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How to succeed in college without paying an arm, leg for textbooks

Camree Ulbricht

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Everyone knows what comes with preparing for college: applications, campus tours, choosing majors, planning dorm rooms, etc. But it also means thinking through finances, and that doesn’t just mean tuition. There are still housing costs to consider, meal plans, and, of course, the ever-expensive textbooks.

Most textbooks cost upwards of $180. That’s just impractical. Money is already tight in college, trying to cover all the other costs, without paying that much money for a textbook you may only need for a brief period of time. Fortunately, there are a few ways to save money on books.

The campus library. At any given college, the campus library and research center is an excellent resource for students, and more than likely they will have copies of the textbooks you need. They may not have books for overly specific topics, but chances are that if it is a relatively common course reading it will be there. You can check it out for free, or use it any time you want in the library.

Of course, that also brings up the problem of availability. If it’s a common textbook, then there may be a long line of people fighting for its use. It is best to stay informed of the materials you will need for class ahead of time, so you can reserve what you need.

Talk to other students. Find older students who have already taken the course and see if you can borrow books from them, or even buy it from them for a cheaper price. They’re probably eager to get rid of their textbook. Or you could split the cost with a classmate and share the textbook.

Buy a used textbook online. After completing a course, the textbook has lost its use and many people will try to re-sell online to get some money back. Look for these deals online, as they will probably be much less than the original price. Sites like amazon.com have a large market for used textbooks.

Look for online copies. In our digital world today several books can be found online in databases where they are accessible to the public. Search for a PDF of the textbook online or ask the professor if there is an e-book version available.

Try textbook rentals. Websites such as chegg.com offer a rental on books, which saves around 60% of the cost. They ship at the beginning of the semester and then the student will ship their books back at the end of the semester with no additional cost, given that it is still in good condition.

College costs enough to begin with. Do yourself a favor to alleviate some of the financial burden and consider these alternatives when shopping for class materials.

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How to succeed in college without paying an arm, leg for textbooks