photo credit: wohnai
The following is a guest post by Tina Jacobs.
Walking around a college campus, you’d assume students were ATMs. No, Iím sadly not joking. The truth is that on top of already high tuition, college students pay, on average, a whopping $100 per textbook at the campus bookstore. If you consider most students require at least 2 textbooks per class, per semester, we’re talking a minimum of $800 spent on books each semester. Talk about gouging the student body.
It just doesn’t seem fair to make a struggling college kid pick between necessities like eating vs. books they need to complete their education. However, there are cheaper ways to get your hands on your college textbooks for the semester’s studies. You will just need to do some planning ahead by asking your professors for a list of the required reading materials just after course registration. This will give you a good head start on hunting down the required textbooks before classes start in a few innovative ways.
For example, you can save on college textbooks by opting for textbook rental companies, where online rental agencies actually exist and will ship you your required texts for a fraction of the cost of buying that same book in the campus bookstore. No, stay far away from the college bookstore, where, according to a New York Times article from August 2011, textbook costs are inflated an average of 6 percent, per year.
Look to the following places to find cheaper college textbooks:
Invest in an e-reader: Sure, the upfront cost of an e-reader, between $100 and $300, is a lot, however it will pay off over the long run if you consider that digital textbooks cost only half compared to printed, campus bookstore texts.
Rent textbooks: If you rent your textbooks for the semester you’ll not only pay much less, they will be shipped conveniently to your dorm room so you don’t even need to go outside to get them. You will save a lot of time by opting to rent your textbooks. Plus, the $4.00 return shipping fee covers both ways. Just keep the box the books were sent to you in and ship them back after exams.
Download free textbooks: Websites like Google Books provide online databases where you can search through thousands of scanned textbooks for the one you need.
Purchase last year’s used books: Someone bought a brand, new, shiny philosophy textbook last year, so why not buy it from them? Used books might not be the same edition used in this year’s class, but the information wouldn’t have changed that much. Look to places like Facebook Marketplace and your student bulletin boards for students offering to sell their used books for much less than the retail-prices.
Check out the library: OK, you probably won’t be able to loan out a book for the whole semester, but you can loan it out long enough to study from it. And you can make photocopies of some of the book (just don’t copy it all – that’s a copyright violation!) Just be aware that other students are probably thinking along the same lines, so get their early so you check out your copy before classes start.
Book swap with another student: Frosh week is a great opportunity to get to know other students. Try to meet other students in your program, taking the same courses as you. Offer to split the books, for example, you buy 2; they buy 2. Then swap them as needed or photocopy an extra version to share.
Tina Jacobs is a registered nurse and freelance health writer who has written on topics ranging from education to health and from homeschooling to money-saving tips for college students.