Understanding Money

5 Ways You Can Save Money on College Textbooks

I just thought that it would be best to discuss ways you can save money on college textbooks. This is a very important topic for most college students.

Students heading to college today face a ton of new expenses. Tuition is higher than ever before, for public and private universities alike. Cost of living remains high, and once the economy took a downturn even part time jobs have become difficult to secure. So, whatever an incoming freshman can do to keep money in his pocket is certainly a good thing. Some college expenses are out of your control, but one area that you can certainly impact is the cost of textbooks. You’ve got to have the books, there’s simply no way around that.

On average, a college student can spend more than $1,100 a year on books and course materials, and that number continues to rise. But that doesn’t mean you can’t trim the bill. Whenever possible, do not buy your books brand new. The only instance when you should break that rule is if the book has additional materials that you can only get new, such as a bundled CD or some sort of time-sensitive access code. Of course, you can sell new books back to the store once the semester is complete, but chances are you won’t make the difference back. Instead, here is a look at five ways you can save money on those necessary college textbooks.

Buy your books used.

Every campus bookstore has a used section, and there you’ll find a great deal of savings. Most of the time, you can save as much as 25% off the cover price when buying used. Make sure you check with some online booksellers before buying it at the store, as you may find even deeper discounts there.

Rent your books.

This is a fairly new service. According to the National Association of College Stores, only about 300 bookstores offered textbook rental in 2009. But that number has grown to more than 3,100 stores this year, making this a viable option. You’ll also find websites that rent books as well. In either case, you can expect to save as much as 50% of your textbook expenses by renting instead of buying. Just keep in mind that there will be a return date, and if you miss it, you’ll be subject to late fees. And if you lose the book you’ll have to buy them a replacement, so take good care of it.

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Buy an older version.

You should have no problem tracking down an older edition of the textbook you need, and if it’s only five or so years old, chances are there won’t be that many differences. These will always be available at deep discounts, and can be a creative way to make it all work. Just be sure to check in with your professor to determine that the older version will suffice.

Share the book amongst friends.

College students study together all the time, so why not take that a step further and share a textbook with a couple of friends in the same class? In this case, you all split the cost, which will be tiny if you go with used or rented books. You’ll have to create a schedule, so everyone gets a fair share, but as you probably won’t need the book every day that won’t be such a big deal. If you’re desperate, you can even scan pages and email them within the group. Make sure you get along with the people you’re sharing with, and if you’re not perturbed by other people highlighting sections, this could work really well.

Explore the e-book option.

This won’t work for everything, as not every textbook is available in e-book form. But if you head to college with a Kindle, iPad, or other digital reader, you can download the textbooks you need for about half the sticker price. There’s tons of websites that offer this alternative to textbook rentals or physical purchase, and you’ll be saving the environment as you save money.

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