The cost of college textbooks is a significant expense. In fact, students spend an average of $1,280 a year on books, according to The College Board. If you’re relying on student loans to pay for college, textbooks can add thousands to your overall debt.
Many students depend on the campus bookstore to find used books at a discount, but even used books can be prohibitively expensive. The National Association of College Stores reported that most used college textbooks cost 75 percent of the original retail price.
Luckily, there’s another way you can save money on books. Instead of buying, rent college textbooks.
Why should I rent college textbooks?
Some students love seeing their stack of books grow year after year. However, those books often go completely unused, gathering dust over time. Because that pile of books can be useless later on, renting can be a budget-conscious alternative.
Rather than buying a book, you pay a much smaller fee to rent the book. You’ll have the same book as everyone else in your class; you’ll just pay a fraction of the cost.
When renting, you can decide if you want to borrow a print copy of the book or a digital edition. If you have a full day of classes, you might appreciate having all of your books on a computer or tablet rather than lugging around a backpack stuffed with textbooks.
How much can you save by renting textbooks?
According to Chegg, a leading textbook rental company, you can save as much as 90 percent by renting a book rather than buying it.
For example, you would pay $176 for a copy of “School Law: Cases and Concepts” at Barnes & Noble. If you were willing to buy a used copy, you could get one for $115 on Amazon. However, you could save even more by renting it.
On Chegg, you can rent the eBook for just $43.99 — 75 percent less than the purchase price of the new book.
If you rented all of your textbooks, you could save hundreds each year. This strategy can help reduce the amount of money you need to borrow for college expenses.
What are the drawbacks to renting?
Although there are many benefits to renting, there are a few disadvantages to keep in mind:
- Late fees: Every book you rent will have a return due date. If you miss the deadline, the rental company might charge you late fees.
- Damage penalties: If you rent a print edition and you’re clumsy, you might spill a drink or smudge chocolate on the pages (understandable during finals week). Those accidents can cost you; some companies require you to pay for a replacement if you damage the original.
- No resale value: If you buy new textbooks, you might be able to recoup some of your expenses by reselling them online or to your college bookstore. By renting, you pay a fraction of the purchase price, but you can’t resell the books later on.
- Temporary use: If a textbook is valuable and useful beyond a single course, renting might not be a good option. You have to return the book after a semester, so you’ll lose out on a reference resource if you take a similar course later.
Where to shop for textbooks
Just like purchasing a book, it’s a good idea to comparison shop if you intend to rent college textbooks. The prices can vary from company to company.
For example, if you needed to rent the “History of Modern Design,” the fee is about $35 on Barnes & Noble. Chegg has it for just $26. Comparing prices from multiple companies can help you save even more.
These four sites are reputable and can be excellent resources for renting textbooks:
- Amazon: The online shopping behemoth has a robust textbook rental section. If you sign up for Amazon Student, you can get free two-day shipping. If you need your books quickly and want the print version, Amazon can be a great place to start.
- BigWords: BigWords compares prices from multiple companies at once, which can make researching your options much easier. Because they pull from several different companies, they can find rentals for even obscure textbooks.
- Chegg: Chegg is one of the few sites that allows you to highlight sections of your rental (but no writing). And if you drop a class, you have a 21-day risk-free window to return the book. If you need a book longer, you can extend or purchase your rental.
- ValoreBooks: ValoreBooks offers a price-match guarantee. If you find a book at a lower rental cost elsewhere, they’ll match the price. Also, they offer free return shipping for your rental.
New rental companies are popping up every day; some are more reliable than others. Before paying for a book, make sure you check reviews of the company and understand all of their policies regarding late fees, returns, and damage to books.
Saving money while in school
College tuition and school fees are rising, so you have to save money where you can. Although textbooks can be a major financial burden, deciding to rent college textbooks rather than buying can save you a substantial amount of cash.
If you’re looking for other ways to save money while in school, learn how to create a college budget.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 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 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% 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 Month/Day/Year, 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 08/21/18. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
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.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|