How to Save Money on College Textbooks

Textbooks. Like it or not, textbooks are essential to every college student’s academic career. But the incredible cost of these books can really make things difficult for students on a budget. Textbooks are known for being wildly overpriced and having a terrible return policy. While it may be impossible to avoid spending money on books completely, here are a few tips that can help you avoid breaking your bank when it comes to textbook shopping.

Shop Around on Campus

Don’t just go to one campus bookstore and purchase all of your books there. Most college campus have at least a few bookstores, and they are all competing for your business. Check out the prices on textbooks at different stores to find the cheapest available option.

Decide Whether to Rent or Buy

Today, many bookstores give customers the option to rent books rather than buy them. This means that instead of purchasing the book, the store loans it to you for a smaller fee. At the end of the semester you are then obligated to return the book to the store you rented it from. Renting books does have its pro’s and cons. Renting may be cheaper initially, but at the end of the semester you won’t be able to sell your book for money back. Also, if you happen to lose or ruin your book you could be charged a fee by the store. It can sometimes be hard to determine if renting or buying is ultimately cheaper because you won’t know how much money you will get for selling the book back at the end of the semester. Look for bookstores that offer a “buy back guarantee” on their books. This ensures that you will at least get a certain percentage of your money back if you sell it back to their store.

Look Online

There are many websites available for students to order textbooks from. Buying books online can often save students hundreds of dollars because of the significantly lower prices. Just like you would shop around in stores, shop around online. Compare prices from different websites before making a purchase. If ordering books online, make sure you order as early as possible because it can take a few days for the books to be shipped.

Check the Library

There’s a good chance your school library has many required textbooks available for check out. Determine if your library has any of the textbooks you need. If so, you won’t have to purchase them for yourself. Go to the library and rent the book if you need to study, or rent the book once and make copies of the pages. Put the pages into a binder for an organized, homemade version of your textbook.

Share With a Friend

Sharing a book is another good way to cut down on the cost. If you know a friend in any of your classes, see if they would be interested in splitting the cost of a book with you. Then you can share in class, trade back and forth, study together, or make copies. This way you will only be paying for half the price of a book.

Save Your Receipts
Textbook companies are known for having difficult return policies. If you buy a book and it turns out you don’t need it, some bookstores will try to avoid refunding you for it. Make sure you save your receipts so there will be no question about what the store owes you if you choose to return a book.

While buying textbooks can be a source of major financial pain for students, the above tips will help lessen the burden. Follow these simple strategies, and your textbook bill will be shrinking in no time.

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Mallory Londeck

Mallory Londeck

Mallory Londeck is a senior at Michigan State University double majoring in journalism and media & information. As a proud Spartan, Mallory is involved in many organizations on campus including the student radio station, campus tours, and university activities board. Outside of MSU, Mallory enjoys reading, writing, and watching movies. A self proclaimed “pop-culture fanatic,” she is always up-to-date on the latest entertainment news. She also enjoys playing Frisbee, volleyball, and snowboarding in her spare time.
Mallory Londeck

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