Kiss Your College Bookstore Good-bye!



According to Student PIRGs, the nonprofit public advocacy group behind the Make Textbooks Affordable website, college textbook costs have increased by four times the amount of inflation since 1994. Today, students are paying more than $900 annually for books which equals about 20% of the tuition cost at the average university. Worse, this number equals roughly half of the tuition cost for community college students who are often the least able to afford college.

What options do you, as a student, have when it comes to purchasing books? Although Student PIRGs is doing their part to shine the light on the cost, what practical steps can you take right now to save money on textbooks?

Well, that answer could depend on the willingness of your professors to cooperate, something that can vary from class to class. So let’s explore some ways you can shave ten, twenty, even fifty percent or more off of your annual textbook bill.

Four Steps To Saving Money On Textbooks

Buy Used — Most textbooks are updated annually, rendering the information in the books dated once the academic year has ended. These updates serve two purposes: to keep the textbook information current and to force students to buy the new book. Some professors insist that students use the newest edition, while others are more accommodating. If you can “get away” with an older edition, you could save 20 to 50 percent on costs. Another option is to avoid the bookstore and buy from a student who will sell the book to you directly and for less.

Do Without — If your “18th Century Foundations of Zoology” class lists four books for you to purchase, could it be that at least one textbook is optional? If so, consider not buying the book or perhaps sharing a copy with another student for the semester.

Shop Online – eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, and other online sites feature new and/or used textbooks for sale. Search around — even if someone must ship the book to you, it could still be cheaper than buying the used copy at the college bookstore.

Rent Your Book — One company has started a business where students can rent their textbook for the semester. Chegg rents over two million titles which you can find online and have shipped to your address. When the semester is over, you return the book to Chegg with their pre-paid label. You pay a rental fee and you do the environmentally responsible thing as no additional trees are cut down to make your books.

Up, Up, and Away!

Prices for textbooks will continue to rise, at least for the near term, or until students say, enough. You can’t wait for change to occur, but with the options shared above, real savings can be had the next time you shop for college textbooks.



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Categories: College Budgeting