Mail in rebates harnessed by doctoral student to pay tuition


An Auburn University PhD student has used mail-in rebates to pay his tuition. Photo Credit: Julie and Heidi/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

An enterprising PhD student at Auburn University, Jonathan Hood, has been able to successfully pay his tuition using mail-in rebates, in conjunction with other strategies. The rebates can add up in the right circumstances, though many people never cash them in.

PhD student pays tuition with mail-in rebates

According to the Huffington Post, Jonathan Hood, a Ph.D candidate student at Auburn University, has come to notoriety for a unique strategy for paying the bulk of his tuition. Hood accumulates mail-in rebates and uses the money, usually in the form of prepaid debit cards or checks, to pay his tuition, which is roughly $4,500 per semester. So far, he’s paid about $2,500 with prepaid cards and another $1,000 with checks, all from mail-in rebates.

Hood has been at this for years, according to Yahoo Finance. He got inspired as a child, when his father took him to early-morning sales and only would purchase video games that had a rebate coupon attached to them, giving him the idea about how they could be useful. He’s used rebates to pay his cell phone bill for the past two years.

Strategy is involved

Hood employs a bit of strategy in how he uses mail-in rebates to his advantage. He uses “free-after-rebate” offers almost exclusively; in other words, he tries to stick to items that come with a full rebate. Most of the shopping he does is online, hunting for free-after-rebate items, with and being steady sources of opportunities.

He usually uses a cash-back rewards credit card to make the purchases and sells the item on eBay, turning a profit. He’s also designed a computer program to track rebate expiration dates. Given that his major is computer science, hopefully he’s getting course credit.

It takes up to several months for the rebates to arrive and he pays strict attention to the requirements for cashing in the rebate, so it takes considerable diligence to turn the trick. However, it is a novel use for rebates.

Don’t let them sit

Mail-in rebates are great for manufacturers and retailers. The reason why is that they know full well that we, the consumers, are a bunch of lazy slug-a-beds that aren’t going to remember to send mail-in rebates in on time. That’s money in their pockets.

According to the Wall Street Journal, an estimated 40 percent of mail-in rebates are either never submitted, lost or denied.

Always take time to read and understand the requirements on a rebate coupon, in order to redeem it successfully and get the funds, as some have Byzantine rules about accepting the coupon, such as requiring the receipt with the item circled and needing the UPC label along with the rebate coupon form.


Huffington Post

Yahoo Finance

Wall Street Journal

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