Kodak has a line of printers that use less expensive ink (the photo printing quality is average, the black and white/text printing is good, and the savings are considerable). Also consider that a good printer can last much longer than the four years of college and may be worth the investment.
Search "backpack deal" on Google and then click on the "blogs" tab to see what great prices the mommy-bloggers have found. This is the single best way to find current deals online. Using this method I found lots of $10 backpacks at Meijer and even Office Depot.
A backpack is a fashion statement for your kid -- let them pick it out. Teens may want an expensive bag, but a somewhat technical backpack like a Kelty pack for $55 looks cool and won't break the bank.
Also consider your child's back as they cart around all their books. A wheeled backpack is a lifesaver and a spinesaver. Wheeled backpacks at ebags.com start at about $30.
Remember to push the green angle to your kids as you encourage them to pack a lunch. I like the new Bento box lunch boxes that say no to Ziploc bags and compartmentalize foods in reusable, dishwasher-safe containers.
I also like the stylish and cute neoprene purse lunchboxes.
The Trapper-Keeper and pencil case are so passe. Check out the Cocoon Grid-IT organizer.
This product fits in your backpack or purse and uses a grid of elastic straps to hold down iPods, cell phones, charger cables, earphones, pencils, and pens. It is a modern solution to the mess in the bottom of your bag.
Cell Phone Recharger
Parents used to send their kids to school with some coins so they could call home in an emergency. Now that kids are equipped with cell phones, the real lifesaver is a back-up phone charger. Energizer has an emergency cell phone charger that costs about $16 and works with disposable batteries. You can also pay $50 for the Powerstick, an emergency cell phone charger that you recharge off your computer in-between uses.
"The dog ate my homework" has been replaced with "my hard drive crashed" as the top excuse for missing assignments. But for students who do all their work on a computer, a crashed hard drive is a nightmare. San-Disk has a USB stick that acts as a one-touch backup system. Just plug in the Ultra Backup USB stick and then hit the button on the stick to back up all your data files. The 8GB version costs $35 and holds 3,500 songs, over 5,000 photos, over 6,000 office files, and up to 16 hours of video.