How to save money on college textbooks

September 26, 2012

Getting all the right materials for college can prove costly. From printings to dining hall passes, the money it takes to pay for academic expenditures can be astronomical. Even if you are receiving a scholarship, there are many expenses that won't be covered. Chief among these costs will be textbooks needed for classes. And while you can go to the campus bookstore to find everything you need, it's best to look for alternatives to save money.  Here are a few tips to get the best deals possible.

Rent instead of buying
There are a number of different ways that you can get the necessary materials on a temporary basis. The first stop, located right on campus, should be your college's library. After researching each book and checking out the ones you need, you will be able to take them home and renew them as necessary. However, should any damage occur, you'll be forced to cover the costs.

Books can also be rented online. The Christian Science Monitor suggests looking at sites including Barnes and Noble, BookRenter, Amazon and Chegg, all of which give people the option to rent books over the internet.

Only get books that are necessary
While there are certain books that are required for courses, there are others that are not as vital. One way to determine which books are necessary is to consult the syllabus. If it isn't clear, Money Crashers also suggests asking others who have previously taken the course which books turned out to be necessary and which ones weren't.

Getting older books
Another way to save is to buy previous textbook editions. In a column for CBS MoneyWatch, Lynn O'Shaughnessy writes that many earlier editions of books can come at a far lower cost than current ones and that the content will be extremely similar.

Finding alternatives to traditional textbook purchases is one good way to save money for other expenditures. While learning the material is of course the most important part of attending any college or university, it doesn't have to cost you a fortune when all is said and done.

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