Textbooks are expensive. In fact, textbooks prices are rising faster than tuition, healthcare, and housing costs.
Here are a few tips to help you save money this semester:
1. Ask Your Professor/Someone Who’s Taken The Class
Professors know how expensive textbooks are. Before you go out and buy every book that is listed on the syllabus, talk with your professor and make sure they are all necessary. Sometimes you won’t need them all and sometimes an outdated version will suffice. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you want a more honest opinion, since many professors say every book is necessary, asking friends who have taken the class can provide a better insight. Many professors only test on the information in their PowerPoints and there are many free study tools out there for most gen ed classes, so the book might not even be necessary at all. Be sure to exhaust all of your options before dropping massive amounts of money on a book you may not open the whole semester!
2. Download Electronic Versions
In some cases, you can download electronic versions of textbooks for a lot cheaper than buying a hard copy. You may even be able to find older editions for free. Always be sure to check sites like Amazon, Flat World Knowledge, and Bookboon before getting price gouged at the campus bookstore. In addition to saving money, you won't have to lug armloads of textbooks around campus.
It goes without saying that renting is cheaper than buying. This is especially true for textbooks. If you don’t think you’ll have any use for the book once the semester is over, it would probably make more sense to rent it. Most college bookstores typically charge more than third-party vendors and usually have a limited selection of rentals available. Before you search the on-campus bookstore, try looking at online sellers to see what your options are. Textbook Solutions, Campus Book Rentals, BookRenter, and Chegg are some of the more popular sites.
Pro tip: You can also check your campus library.
4. Buy Used
This is probably obvious, but buying used is usually a lot cheaper than buying new. Most on-campus bookstores will have a few used versions available for purchase, but these sell out fast and, again, are pretty expensive compared to third-party vendors. You can usually find a few third-party booksellers that specialize in used books around town as well. If all else fails, online sellers nearly always have what you are looking for!
5. Save Your Receipts
Through the American Opportunity Tax Credit, students can get up to $2,500 back on college expenses. This includes textbooks, course materials, enrollment fees, and tuition. So save your receipts to get some of your cash back next tax season!
6. Sell Them Back
At the beginning of every semester, you can sell back your textbooks to bookstores. Of course, you will only get back a fraction of what you paid originally, but who doesn’t want a little bit of extra cash? The key is to get there early before they reach their spending limit. You can also list your books online through Amazon, eBay, or AbeBooks, but this isn’t a guaranteed sale and may take a few months or longer to find a buyer.
Alternatively, your university probably has a Facebook group dedicated to selling used items between students, and students will likely give you more money for your used textbook than a bookstore looking to turn around and resell it. Be sure to look into all of your options to avoid being ripped off.
The best way to save money on textbooks is to get an early start before everyone else does and your options dry up. These are just a few tips. There are countless other ways to save money, you just have to be crafty!
Looking for more ways to save money? Check out our tips and tricks on How to Budget in College.