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Get Smart! 5 Ways to Save on College Textbooks

When planning your back-to-college budget, it’s important to include textbooks in the mix. That’s because the College Board estimates the cost of a year’s worth of textbooks to be nearly $1,200 per student — quite a chunk of change on top of tuition, room and board, food and other necessities. The good news is there are more choices than ever when it comes to college textbooks. Thanks to the internet, the college bookstore is no longer the only game in town. Here are five ways you can save on college textbooks.

Student finding ways to save on college textbooksBuy Used

One of the oldest tricks for saving on textbooks is still one of the best. Buying used books will save you a lot of cash, but there are a few things to be on the lookout for. Make sure the book is in good shape to hold up through the semester, and be sure you are purchasing the version specified on the current class syllabus.

Wait Until Class Starts

Speaking of the syllabus — being prepared is great, but sometimes the syllabus will include textbooks or other supplemental materials you won’t really need. If you can, wait until the first class and ask the professor or teaching assistant if you will use all the listed items during the semester before you invest in them.

Share with Someone

You can cut the cost of a textbook in half by sharing it with another person. You’ll have to be strategic about planning who is going to have the book and when, but knowing you’re on a strict schedule will motivate you to stick to your study plans. You might even end up with an automatic study buddy.

Rent Instead of Buying

Renting your textbooks can save you as much as 80% over purchasing retail, so it’s definitely an option worth considering, especially if you usually sell your books back at the end of the semester anyway. helps you compare rental rates so you can be sure to enjoy the most savings.

Check Out Amazon

Many people forget that Amazon started out as a site to buy books, so it’s no surprise they have a strong presence in college textbooks. With options to buy new or used textbooks, rent them, or buy e-book versions, it’s practically a one-stop shop. You can also get a free six-month membership to Prime Student, and set up Amazon Allowance, which lets people deposit money into your account, where it becomes an instant gift card balance.

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