College can be incredibly expensive, and once students get admitted and receive financial aid or scholarships, they tend to think the worst is over.
In terms of finances, though, there are smaller expenses to consider that can really add up.
One of those hidden college expenses is the cost of textbooks. Depending on your major and your course load for the semester, your textbooks could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to almost $1,000.
So, how can you save money on college textbooks and avoid spending this type of money? Here are 6 tips.
1. Ask if You Need the Book First
This is always my first recommendation to college students trying to save money on textbooks. While each class tends to come with a corresponding textbook, it’s not always required.
Before the semester starts, you can email your professor and ask them if you really need to buy the textbook listed on the syllabus. Surprisingly, some will say no.
Some teachers choose not to teach from the textbook and would rather use their own methods and resources. In that case, you don’t need to waste money buying a book because they don’t come cheap.
2. Save the Campus Bookstore as a Last Resort
One thing you can avoid doing is making the campus book store your first stop. It’s convenient to have a book store right on campus and it can be an easy way to find all your textbooks.
However, they often have some of the highest prices. You’d be better off looking elsewhere and using the tips I’m going to share below, then go to your campus bookstore as an absolute last result.
3. Shop Online For Used Books
You can find a way better deal on college textbooks when you shop online instead. Most times, you can find used books that former students are trying to get rid of for a lower price.
Some companies also resell college textbooks at a discounted rate.
If you can find a local textbook store, you may also be able to find some good deals on used books. Generally, used textbooks are going to cost you about 20% – 50% less than what it would cost you to buy the book new.
If you only need the book for one semester, it almost makes no sense to buy it new unless it’s required.
4. Use Coupons and Back-to-School Discounts
Some college books have workbook pages that you need to write in so you will have to buy the book new and won’t be able to find any used versions.
Other times, the book might be a brand new edition so no used copies are even available yet.
In that case, you can still save money on your college textbooks by using coupons and back-to-school discounts.
Coupon sites like this one allow you to save at least 10% – 15% on your online textbook order. For a $100 book, that’s easily $10 or $15 back into your pocket.
If you look hard enough, you may also be able to find some back-to-school textbook sale discounts online. The great thing about ordering your books online is that you can comparison shop and use coupon codes to lower your costs.
The key is just to start your search early enough.
5. Rent Instead
Some college students like to buy their textbooks because they want to have the option of being able to sell them at the end of the semester.
You can sell your books online or even back to the campus bookstore or local book store you bought them from.
I’ll admit, I’ve done this once or twice when I was in college, and I made a quick $80 one time.
If you’re not interested in selling your college textbooks though, just rent them instead. Renting your textbooks is so much cheaper than buying them.
Plus, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of trying to sell or get rid of the book after you’re done with it to avoid clutter. Sites like TextbookRush and Chegg allow you to rent your college textbooks for cheap.
Be sure to pay attention to the return date and make sure it’s a few days after your semester ends so you won’t have to give up the book too soon.
I actually had to extend my rental one time and only paid a small extra fee.
6. Share With a Friend
Sharing is caring right? If you have a class with a friend and won’t be needing to use your textbook much according to your instructor, you can always opt to share it with a friend.
That way, you can split the cost and borrow the book from each other throughout the semester.
I know this isn’t ideal for everyone, but it could work for roommates, siblings, or close friends with the same class looking to save some money.
You may not even have the same class at the same time. If you both have the class with the same teacher but on different days/times, that may make it easier to share the book.
Bonus Idea: Use Your Book Voucher
If you receive financial aid in the form of grants or a work study opportunity, check to see if part of your financial aid award can be used for a book voucher.
A book voucher allows you to charge your books to your student account and pay for it with part of your financial aid offer.
The good thing is you don’t have to pay the money back, but you’ll likely have to shop in the campus book store in order to use the voucher.
College textbooks are important. If you need them, you probably don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, and I don’t blame you. College costs enough already. So, be sure to use these tips this semester to save a decent amount of money.