10 Smart Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks if You’re a Student
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College is expensive!
Luckily, textbooks can be one of the easiest ways to save some money. Whether you have a student about to start their college journey or you’re going back to school for your Master’s, here are some smart ways to save some money on those expensive textbooks!
1. Score books on Amazon for 90% less.
Amazon has everything now, including the Amazon Textbooks Store, where you can score new or used college textbooks for 90% off their regular retail price. And with Prime Student, you’ll even get free, 2-day shipping.
As a bonus, Amazon will let you trade in any textbook once you’re done in exchange for an Amazon gift card, regardless if you bought it there or not.
Hip Tip: Make sure you’re getting the absolute best deal on your textbook with CampusBooks.com. You can compare prices on new or used books from top brands such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Chegg, eCampus.com and save up to 90% off.
2. Buy digital books and carry less stuff.
Whenever you can score them, digital books are the way to go – they don’t add a ton of weight to your backpack, and they’re environmentally friendly!
Search online at Barnes & Noble to see if the book you need is available as an e-book (or NOOK book). You can also rent electronic college textbooks, so you won’t have to worry about reselling, or returning your book! To boot, digital copies are typically significantly cheaper than hard copies. And they’re virtually impossible to misplace or damage by accident.
Hip Tip: Digital books are also great because you can do control+f for quick content searches. You’re welcome. 😉
3. Check out Facebook Marketplace to score bargains.
Long gone are the days when you had to know someone looking for the specific book you once paid full price for. Now students can post their books for sale on Facebook, so it’s a great way to source used books locally. You can also check Craigslist if you don’t luck out on Facebook. (Chances are, those college students will haggle to pay for some groceries.) 😉
4. Head to the library for free books.
You may need additional novels to get you through a college class, or you might need to borrow a textbook while you’re waiting for yours to arrive. Your local library or campus library is a great (and free) resource.
5. Share books with a roommate.
If you have a close friend, relative, or roommate who’ll be in the same class, consider sharing a textbook together if you can wing it. Of course, this will take some planning and confidence that both parties will take good care of the book. That said, it’s more than worth it when you can score the textbook for 50% off since you went halfsies.
Hip Tip: Invest in some Post-It notes if you can’t use a highlighter – especially if you plan to return the book (or share it).
6. Buy an older version of the book you need.
Often times, newer books aren’t much (if at all) different than their slightly older version. In many cases for new textbooks, the page numbers are different and they just look nicer overall.
According to the Calpirg Higher Education Project, newer editions cost about 58% more than the older version. If you don’t mind doing a little more hunting for info during a lecture, this will be a great alternative. Before buying an older version, compare the two books to make sure there are no major differences.
7. Don’t buy your books before class starts.
For some classes, you may not need your textbook right away. Especially if you’re unsure of a class, see if you can get by without purchasing your book during the trial period since you may end up dropping the class. The last thing you want to do is spend money on a book you won’t use at all!
Hip Tip: You may also want to check your syllabus to see what text you’ll be studying. If the content you need in a textbook is actually public access, you may not even need to buy or rent a book at all.
8. Spend Financial Aid funds on your textbooks.
Make every dollar count when you’re using financial aid while attending college. Check with your school to see if you can use your Financial Aid return on future book purchases. Or in some cases, colleges will allow you to channel some of your money toward books to alleviate expenses.
Hip Tip: This option might not be available at all colleges, so check with your Financial Aid office to see what other alternatives or additional savings might be available to you.
9. Or spend scholarship funds or grants to pay for your books.
Since all scholarships and grants are used differently, check the terms of your money coming in before planning to pay for your books with them. However, in some cases, you’ll be able to use this money for your textbooks.
10. Rent textbooks if you don’t need them long term.
If you don’t need a textbook for the long haul, renting it online may be a great alternative. My Hip team member Jamie recently used knetbooks.com and had great success! Here’s why she loves it:
- You can choose your rental period depending on your needs.
- Short term, quarter, or for a whole semester.
- You can choose when to return it with extended return periods.
- You’ll never forget when it’s due with text reminders.
- Everything ships free.
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