I'm also in school, the way I can afford everything is I work all summer to save up to buy nice stuff for the winter. The reason I buy expensive bindings and boots is because they last, yeah I spent $300 on bindings, but I probably wont have to buy another binding for next 5-10 years if not more because they're so durable. I've had markers...my m11 Frees lasted less than 3 weeks, my griffons lasted me but I sold them, I've had other bindings, but they've all broken, which is why I suggested the 2 bindings I've had that lasted. Yes, they're expensive, but if they last, you can take them off your broken skis and put them on your next pair, so that way your not buying new skis AND bindings every year.
Also, boots are the single most important item you buy, they'll either make your day or break your day, and again, they'll last you longer than your skis. That's why I always say, don't cheap out on boots or bindings, if you invest in a good pair now, you wont have to buy new ones for at least a few years. Skis on the other hand, park skis are gonna be trashed by the end of season, so don't bother spending bank on them, Powder skis or All-mountain skis will last longer so you can put some more money into them.
~WAKIN' UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD TONIGHT!~