3 Hacks to Save on College Textbooks
College textbooks are one of the biggest hidden costs in the US! Here’s how to save hundreds of dollars on textbooks every semester.
According to CollegeBoard, the average college student spent between $1,240 - $1,440 per year on textbooks and online resources in 2020. Although these materials are often mandatory for university classes, they are often unused after each semester. Here are 3 hacks to find cheaper alternatives.
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Buy Used Textbooks Online
Most college students resell their textbooks online at the end of every semester. There are hundreds of websites that list used textbooks at a fraction of the price and students also create listings on university-specific Facebook groups. Students can compare the prices from multiple websites to confirm they are getting their books at the lowest price.
Here are some popular secondhand textbook websites in the US:
The most popular time students sell their used textbooks is at the end of the semester. If you know which courses you will be taking the following semester this is the best time for you to secure your books at a discount!
Buy Older Editions
Every few years, publishers will create new editions of their academic resources with minor changes like updated case studies, data updates, and imagery. Each new edition is sold at a markup and often has the same information as the previous edition. Buying older editions of the same textbook is one of the most common ways to own the same material at a much lower cost. We recommend looking for up to two or three previous editions to find the best deal.
Older editions will have slightly different page numbers than newer editions. Cross check the pages with a new edition to stay on track.
Most university students will enroll in a class with their friends. It is common to split the cost of textbooks and class material with a friend or group of friends to bring down the cost. Although there is nothing against textbook sharing, it is important to be cautious of study habits and schedules to ensure that everyone has access to materials when needed.
All majors have a set of university courses that are mandatory to complete to receive a degree. Students taking the same classes during different semesters can coordinate textbook switching/trading to avoid buying new books for courses that their peers have already purchased books for.
We strongly recommend students compare buying brand new books, used books, renting books, sharing books, and starting early to make sure they are getting the best deal. If students find no use for their textbooks after the semester, they can always re-sell them to recoup their costs.