02 Sep

Saving Strategy: Rent Your Textbooks!

The average student spends at least $800 per year on textbooks alone each year, but an up-and-coming trend of textbook rentals could keep some of that money where it really belongs–in your savings account!

Same Day Textbooks
When I wrote about textbook rentals last time, it was still an online-only option, but a new feature from Rent-a-Text.com has the company partnering up with school bookstores nationwide. That means that students can walk into their bookstore, rent a book, and take it home with them that same day–no waiting, no hassle with return postage. To find out if your student’s school participates in this program, simply type its name into the search box on their home page.

Online Options

If your student’s school doesn’t offer on-campus book rentals–or if you simply want to shop around–you can look at the online book rental options as well. Rent-a-Text.com has an online rental option, as do other websites like BookRenter.comCampusBookRentals.com, and Chegg.com. Each of these offer advertised savings of 50 to 90% over purchasing books brand new.

With most sites you simply find your student’s book (usually the ISBN is the safest search option–you want to make sure you order the right text!), rent it, and your student receives it in the mail a few days later. When the semester is over, they simply send it back. Most of these sites even include free return shipping as part of the deal.

What’s the Catch?

Usability options are different with each website, so you’ll want to do some research before you choose which one to use. Some rental companies allow students to highlight in the books, while others consider any marks in the book to be “damage” and will refuse to take them back.  In this case students are required to purchase them instead, which defeats the whole purpose of renting.

Other Options

If your student prefers to own his or her textbooks for optimal markup and study-session highlighting, you can still shave a good portion off that $800+ price tag. Try one (or all) of these ideas to help save even when you’re buying:

  • Buy used! Used textbooks are often in like-new or barely-used condition, and they cost a fraction of the price.
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  • Skip the bookstore. Bookstores tend to mark up the price even on used books, so I usually recommend perusing the used books at sites like Half.com or Amazon.com (both of which offer books sold by individuals or companies willing to offer a significant price cut). These are great places to sell books back at the end of semester, too.
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  • Buy an old edition. Most students can still work with a previous edition of a textbook, and they sell for a fraction of the price. Your student may have to borrow a friend’s book for an updated chapter, or figure out slightly different page numbers, but a little extra effort can mean big savings. Just be sure to confirm with the professor first to make sure the earlier edition will work OK for the class.  A quick email from student to teacher can set the record straight.

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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One Response to “Saving Strategy: Rent Your Textbooks!”

  1. 1
    Pay for College Blog » Blog Archive » 10 Surprising Extra College Costs Says:

    […] my previous mention of text book costs, which are nearly $800 per year for the average student. Renting, borrowing, and buying used can mean big savings when it comes to this particular college […]

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