As if rising college tuition and fees aren’t enough of a trial, textbook price hikes in recent years have meant that students and parents alike have also had to contend with inflating book expenses. Collegeboard reports that students spend over $800 per year on books alone!
While legislators in several states are trying to get government involvement to lower costs, the fact remains that textbooks are flat-out overpriced. Happily, I have a few ideas that can help you pay less for books the next time around!
Rent or Borrow
More and more students and professors are beginning to rally against high book prices, and that has lead several campuses to begin offering textbook rentals. As of spring 2008, the National Association of College Stores reported that textbook rental services were offered by 2.23% of their member stores in the U.S. and Canada. Students pay a fee for use of the book, and return it in good shape at the end of the quarter/semester. Some schools keep copies of required texts on campus, where students can borrow them for free from the library.
Split the Cost
Once your student has made some friends at school, he/she can consider splitting the cost of a book with a friend or roommate, and then passing it back and forth. Though this could get tricky during finals week, it is an arrangement that works very well for some students.
Though not yet widespread, some textbooks are slowly becoming available as e-books. Look in to pricing on these and see what looks better-in some cases you can purchase individual chapters of a book, which could save money. But make sure you compare e-texts with your other options.
Buy Used, but NOT From the Bookstore
Campus bookstores are notorious for overpricing books-even used books. Students can usually find much better deals on books online. One site, CampusBooks.com, searches a collection of websites like Amazon, Half.com, and Barnes & Noble, to find the best price on each book.
Sell, Sell, Sell!
Money spent on books doesn’t have to go down the drain! Though it’s unlikely your student will recoup the entire cost of the books, he/she can usually get some of the value back.
Schools usually have textbook buy-back at the beginning & end of each quarter/semester, but your student will probably get a better price if he/she sells the book online.
All the best,