More than 65 percent of students say they did not buy a required textbook for class because of its cost, according to a 2014 report from student Public Interest Research Groups.
And it’s no wonder why. Textbook prices have gone up 812 percent since 1978.
What’s more, College Board says the average full-time undergraduate student at a four-year public college will spend close to $1,300 on textbooks and supplies each year.
Overall, the cost of books can add thousands to your education costs. But skipping on necessary books can hurt your performance in class and lower your grades as well.
And if you’re falling behind and flunk a class, you could spend even more money to make up the credits.
However, rather than shelling out thousands of dollars for required books, there are ways to get cheap textbooks for college if you’re willing to check out alternatives.
Where to buy cheap textbooks
With school costs reaching all-time highs and student loans becoming a major issue, cutting costs wherever you can is essential to make college affordable.
And thanks to some ingenuity and research, you can definitely find college books at a discount.
First and foremost, skip the school bookstore. Schools charge premiums, and because many students don’t realize they have options, they hand over their money for overpriced books.
Instead, check out these alternatives to get the cheapest college textbooks.
1. Review retailers for new books
If your professor assigned a newly published book, buying used is not an option. But many retailers sell new books for much less than a campus bookstore.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble often carry textbooks with lower prices and sometimes offer coupons and promotional codes as well.
If you have to buy new, check out BigWords before you purchase. BigWords compares prices from major online booksellers, so you can find the best deal available.
2. Consider used books
If you don’t mind a book with dog-eared pages or writing on some pages, a used book can be a great choice.
You can find used books in fair to excellent condition at sites like Amazon, Half.com, or Textbooks.com. Often times you can get up to 50 percent off or more on some books.
So if you can put up with a little wear and tear, you can save significantly on the purchase price.
3. Rent your books
Another option is to try renting textbooks to get them cheap for college. Some sites offer online or hardcopy rentals for the length of your semester. Check out Amazon, Chegg, Campus Book Rentals, and TextBooks.com for textbook rentals.
But if you go this route, make sure you compare multiple sites for the best rate before renting. Right now, Chegg has that Psychology book for rent for around $35. But Campus Book Rentals has it for the semester for about $22.
4. Share with a friend
Even if you can buy used textbooks or rent your books, the cost of textbooks for multiple classes can still add up in the hundreds.
The good news is you can cut your costs in half by sharing your books with a classmate. If you divide up the costs between the two of you, it can make textbooks much more affordable.
This idea works best when you are in different time slots for the same class, so you can pass off the book to each other in between sessions. While it can take some planning and scheduling, sharing the cost can save you money.
5. Look for open source
Finally, many professors are starting to realize what a burden expensive books are on students.
More and more teachers are instead using open source texts for their classes. Open source books are published for free online. The authors post them with an unrestricted license, so students can download them and even read them on their smartphones.
It’s one of the best ways to get cheap textbooks for college. In fact, a report found that students could save an average of $128 a course if traditional books were replaced with open-source versions.
College Open Textbooks and OpenStax are two of the biggest sites for open source books. They offer high-quality texts that are peer-reviewed by industry leaders, just like the expensive books. But, they’re free to read and download.
To find out if your school or a particular professor uses open source books, check with the school library. Or, ask the instructor directly.
6. Resell your textbooks
Finally, selling your new or used textbooks when you are done with them can help you recoup some of your costs.
Again, skip the school bookstore and sell your books online. You’ll get more money than the bookstore would offer. And, you can compare different offers to ensure you get the best price for your books.
Shop around for cheap textbooks for college
College textbooks can add thousands of dollars to your education costs.
So before picking up next semester’s books from the school bookstore, shop around and explore your options. You may be able to rent, buy a used book, or find a free version.
Over the course of four years of school, that approach can save you thousands.
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.54% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 0318/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.5% effective February 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.54% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.54% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.67% – 8.96%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.23% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.43%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|