billi, with airsoft being as gray as it is already, its hard enough for retailers to get their guns in or to even have the ability to sell them without attracting attention from the layman who doesn't know any better. That being said, it is entirely a legitimate sale, but again, to the layman who doesn't know any better...
So even with AV'tion, for us newbies, its just a bit better to know a bit less. I'm fine with it, as long as the retailer has reputation on here-just because there are people who come on here with far more experience and years than I do, so I trust them.
As for guns questions: I agree with most of the views: Get AV'ed, then go on classifieds and take a look and maybe post a want ad to see what you can come up with. CA is a great choice for starter, but I too am a University student, and I don't have that much money. If you're looking to game, expect to spend up to $1000 on gear and gun. That's a general amount, but the gun itself will cost about half of that value. The rest is for goggles, clothing, vests, boots, gloves, etc.
Now for my own opinion; I too am starting out, and being my budget tighter, I'd rather spend a little bit less (sacrificing best quality) than spending (as latency well put it) all of my tuition. If I can't find anything on the classifieds, I'm going with Velocity Arms' custom line-their HK416. It's pre-upgraded and comes as a basic starter kit that doesn't break the bank. But if you can afford it, of course TM/CA real steel ones are a better starter.