5 Great Ways to Save on College Textbooks

Tuition isn’t the only cost of a college education that is rapidly rising. Textbooks can cost the average student several hundred dollars per semester. Students enrolled in a specialty or graduate program can easily spend over $1,000. Unlike tuition, there are several ways that students can save money on textbooks. Here are 5 easy ways to save money on this recurring college expense:

Share Books

Everyone is required to take the same core classes during the first two years of a typical four-year college program, and students enrolled in the same major start to know one another after taking many of the same topical classes. Take advantage of these relationships and the shared curriculum by forming a book-share program with classmates. Students can agree to split the cost of books purchased up front and then agree to a shared schedule, or they can make a sort of lending library in which old books are added and made available for sharing.

Use an Older Version

Many textbooks are updated every year, and most are updated every couple of years. Usually, minimal information is changed. However, some page numbers may differ or some supplements may not be available in an older version. Students can typically use an older version (especially one that was the immediate predecessor) with little or no hardship in keeping up with the reading assignments or the material. Because the older version becomes “obsolete” once a new version is adopted by a professor, students can buy the older version for far less.

Go Green

More and more books are becoming available online – some for free! Classic literature can often be found on an open-source site (though these books cost far less than traditional textbooks). Electronic versions that require purchase are often less expensive and choosing an electronic version is always better for the environment. Here is a discussion of print vs. e-textbooks.

Buy Used

Of course, the easiest way to save money on textbooks is to buy them used. However, the college bookstore is no longer the only place to buy these discounted books. Online vendors such as eBay, Amazon, Craig’s List, and other textbook sellers offer new and used versions of textbooks – with a substantial savings potential. Consider buying from friends, classmates, and students who post on message boards, as well. You may even be able to buy an electronic version of a textbook from a classmate for a discounted rate.

Sell Your Old Books

This strategy is more about making money to spend less money later. Selling your books can often net you a significant return on your investment. Be sure to sell books as soon as the semester is over, as waiting can jeopardize your sales potential if a new version is released or another book is chosen for the class. In addition to your college bookstore, you can sell books through online vendors that sell used textbooks, or you can post an ad on student forums or bulletin boards. Often, selling the books directly will net more of a sales return. Websites such as Chegg can help you sell your textbooks online.

Textbooks can represent a significant expense for college students, but there are many ways to minimize the cost through smart buying strategies. With so many vendors and formats available, there are many options to help students save. Using these strategies over all four years of college can turn into savings of thousands of dollars.

About Erinn Stam

Erinn Stam is the Managing Editor for online nursing programs. She attends Wake Technical Community College and is learning about nursing schools in WI. She lives in Durham, NC with her lovely 4-year-old daughter and exuberant husband.
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One Response to 5 Great Ways to Save on College Textbooks

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