Ways to Save on College Textbooks

August 3, 2015 : Stephanie Halligan - Guest Contributor

Editor’s Note: While the cost of textbooks may pale in comparison to tuition, it’s still a large chunk of college spending. Use these tips to save on college textbooks.

College doesn’t come cheap. We expect tuition at a four-year university to cost an arm and a leg. But there’s one unexpected cost that tends to sneak up on most students: textbooks. According to the College Board, students spend more than $1,200 on textbooks and supplies each year. Add that to an already staggering tuition bill, and it’s easy to find your savings depleted before the semester even begins.

Luckily there are ways to avoid overspending on all that required reading. Here are four:

1. Avoid the campus bookstore, and shop online.

With so many cheap places to buy textbooks online, there are few reasons to purchase books at the campus bookstore. Check out online options and take some time to shop around for the best deal. Amazon is an easy place to start. You can also compare textbook prices with sites like

2. Find creative ways to rent, borrow and share books.

Not interested in actually owning your book? A growing number of textbook sellers offer online rental options. Websites like Chegg sell and rent books, and some sites like offer free shipping. You can also access some of your books for free at your college library. Many school libraries keep a copy of the required reading on the shelf. So when it’s time to read up on the next assignment, try to check out a copy of the book at the library at no cost. You can also buy one copy and share with a classmate. You’ll at least be cutting your costs in half.

3. Look for electronic options.

Textbooks are heavy. And you do pay for that heft. Lighter books are usually cheaper books – and that includes electronic versions. The Amazon Kindle store is a great place to look for eBook options and get a deal.

4. Sell your books when you’re done.

One of the best ways to save money on textbooks is by earning that money back when you’re done. Many online textbook websites offer textbook buy-back options. For example, Chegg offers up to 90% of the price you paid for the book in the first place.

By shopping around and thinking of creative ways to avoid the marked-up cost of college textbooks, you could save money for more important student activities. (Spring break, anyone?)

Stephanie Halligan - Guest Contributor

Stephanie Halligan - Guest Contributor

The Empowered Dollar

Stephanie is a blogger at The Empowered Dollar. Her mission: saving kids from financial disaster, one conversation at a time.

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