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Student Pays Tuition with Mail-In Rebates

Student pays tuition bill with mail-in rebates.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

September 13, 2012

Student Pays Tuition with Mail-In Rebates
Students are really outdoing themselves these days and getting creative with how they pay their tuition bills and loan balances. Jonathan Hood, a PhD student at Auburn University, is the next in a string of students bucking the system and paying on his own terms. Hood is now making headlines for paying a semester of tuition solely through money he has received for mail-in rebates on products, according to Business Insider. He told Yahoo! Finance, "Tuition for this semester was $4,500. I paid over $2,500 of it with prepaid debit cards [from rebates] and a little over $1,000 of it with rebate checks." In an interview with Business Insider, Hood explained that he began using mail-in rebates as a means for paying bills when he was just 15. He states, "My dad kind of got me hooked. We stood in line early in the morning [on Black Friday] and I found out then I could get the [video] games I wanted for either really cheap or for free [with mail-in-rebates]." From there, he graduated to paying his cell phone bill entirely through rebates, which he’s maintained for two solid years now, reports Yahoo! Finance.

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So how does Hood do it? He told Yahoo! Finance that he shops exclusively online and specifically on sites like, and Hood then buys the product, collects the rebate and either resells on eBay or donates the product to his church.

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Yes, technically, Hood is spending money to get money, but there is a payoff in the end that obviously benefits Hood. He explained the calculations to Yahoo! Finance in great detail: "My average rebate takes 11 minutes to fill out and cash, and is for $40. My envelopes and pens were free after rebate, so their cost is negligible. For this $40 rebate, I use a 2% cash-back credit card to purchase the item ($0.80 profit) and receive anywhere from 0-5% using FatCash from Fatwallet or a similar service. Stamp price is $0.45. Then, I turn around and sell the item on eBay for an average profit of $11.91 after shipping and taxes per item." While it typically takes about four months to receive the rebate, Hood claims that he has two or three prepaid debit cards or rebate checks coming in each weekday, according to Yahoo! Finance. And even though tuition is paid for this semester, he’s already started saving up rebate checks for next semester.

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What are ways that you could creatively pay your tuition bill?

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