In just a couple of years, my oldest will be heading off to college in the fall. This year though, my husband is tackling some pre-requisite classes before entering a nursing program. Those college books? Wow, are they pricey!
So, when we started looking into him going back to school, we wanted to learn how to save money on books for college! Here are some of the best tips and tricks we've learned to save money on college books!
Saving Money on Books for College
Many people are unaware that you don’t always have to pay full price for your books in college. There are actually a variety of ways to cut costs on learning materials for college - from books to computers (did you know you can get a student discount from Apple?!) to even basic pencils and paper. Here are some tips on how to save money on books for college, so that you'll be able to do other things...like pay tuition and eat!
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Should I Buy Books for College Online?
If you’re going to buy them, you should absolutely buy college books online if you can find a good deal. Not only are books generally cheaper online, but you can often find used copies.
Although some college courses may request the newest edition of certain books, most of the time the previous year’s edition still has the correct material. It’s also going to be immensely cheaper than the newest edition.
There are also often digital versions of textbooks that are significantly cheaper than their hard copy counterparts, if you don’t mind reading them on an e-reader or computer. Just be sure that you learn best with an ebook and don't need a hard copy. We made the mistake of getting some ebooks - thinking they would be easier - but they ended up being tough to highlight and take notes on. Mid-semester we had to order the hard copies anyway.
Places like eBay and Amazon also are great resources for finding used textbooks online!
Should I Borrow or Rent College Textbooks?
If you absolutely can’t find a college book used or absolutely need the newest version, one possibility is to rent college textbooks. This is going to be significantly cheaper than buying a book new, although you’ll have to return it when you’re done with it.
Often, the best option is to check out textbook borrowing programs available through local libraries. These are, of course, free. Not every book is necessarily available, but you can save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars over the course of a college career this way.
Then again, some people like to own their books, but if you decide that, you can always buy them later.
Should I Buy College Books from Private Sellers?
We've had luck finding used college books from students posting on the university bulletin boards and social media. Instead of buying them from the bookstore, we just buy them from students who have taken the class the previous semester. The only downside is that the bookstore usually won't buy them back at the end of the semester.
Saving money on books for college is possible, but you have to do some research. Make sure you know which book you'll need (including which edition!!) before heading off to purchase it. If in doubt, email your professor and double check. There's nothing worse than buying the wrong book!