Savvy College Student Pays His Tuition with Money from Rebates

Posted by Liz Dwyer

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Ever buy something that comes with a "free after rebate" offer and then you forget to mail it in before the deadline? Jonathan Hood, a doctoral student at Auburn University in Alabama's never had that problem. In fact, he's so savvy at the rebate game that he paid his tuition this semester with money he got back from his purchases.

Hood told Business Insider he's been a rebate chaser since a Black Friday shopping trip when he was 15 years old. He's long used the prepaid debit cards, cash, and checks that companies send back to pay for little stuff like his cell phone bill. But this year, Hood decided to see if it was possible to "generate enough income to pay for college using this method."

Indeed, it sounds unbelievable but Hood managed to stockpile over 200 prepaid debit cards and checks. "Tuition for this semester was $4,500," Hood says. "I paid over $2,500 of it with prepaid debit cards [from rebates] and a little over $1,000 of it with rebate checks." That left him with less than $1,000 to pay out of pocket.

Now that this semester's paid for, he's starting to collect rebates for the next one. But how does he keep track of hundreds of rebates? It turns out Hood's a computer programmer so he made a special program that keeps him up to speed on all the due dates. Maybe he'll share it with the rest of the nation's cash-strapped students so they can pay a little less out of pocket for college.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user borman818