Can you smell the pencil shavings and new notebooks? Ah, it’s back-to-school time again.
One enduring reality about this time of year, whether decades ago or right now, is that textbooks can weigh heavy on the wallet. As a recent graduate, I found some ways to help save a little money on those $400 required texts. Here are my class notes:
Pearson recently announced 1,500 of their textbooks will now be offered electronically as a way of lowering the cost of higher education. The average cost of one of their e-books is $40 and can be upgraded with digital learning tools for $79. The e-books update with new information as it comes out. If you prefer to have a physical textbook, you can rent one for about $60.
“Students live in this online world. They access content all kinds of ways. They often don’t need to own the textbooks and the educational content,” said Laura Howe, vice president of innovation communications at Pearson. “…We feel like students should be able to choose course-ware that fits the way they live, that fits the way they actually want to learn, which is often digitally, and also fits their budget.”
Howe said almost 90% of students are using digital tools for learning, which has increased from 78% a year ago and 69% two years ago.
Pearson also offers discounted textbooks as part of their Inclusive Access program at 700 colleges, including the University of Missouri, University of Florida, UC Davis and more. Students should check to see if their school is participating in the program.
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Chegg Books is a website where you can buy, rent and sell textbooks. It advertises bargain prices up to 90% off campus bookstore prices and has a page for cheap textbooks. If you rent a textbook but want to keep it for longer, you can extend your rental or buy it at the end. Chegg even allows you to highlight important parts of your book.
If you’re not the type to carry physical textbooks, Chegg also has a selection of e-textbooks you can highlight, take notes on and get help from study experts through the Chegg Study subscription. If you prefer physical textbooks, Chegg will give you access to an e-version of your book for seven days while your copy is being shipped to you, which can be particularly useful if you need the textbook your first week of class if it’s still on the way.
Some classes don’t ask for textbooks but require an access code for a program used for lectures, labs and homework, which you can also purchase from Chegg. From now until the end of August, you can get free shipping on your textbook order of more than $35.
Amazon’s textbook rental program made my life incredibly easy while I was in school. After getting the list of textbooks I needed, I was able to find them on Amazon and have them shipped to me with no hassle. When you rent from Amazon, you have a 30-day period to return the book in case you decide to drop a class or realize the book isn’t necessary for the course. Returning the textbook is free at the end of the semester; you just have to drop it off at the carrier on the shipping label Amazon creates for you.
Sometimes I needed regular books for class instead of a textbook, and Amazon was also a useful place to get them because I could find them used at a reasonable price.
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Thriftbooks is another website where you can get serious discounts on textbooks. They have a variety of books from classic literature to business and medical texts and can be used at all levels of education. Just perusing the site, I found a used hardcover macroeconomics textbook for under $5.
Carson McCann, a friend from high school who graduated this May from Denison University in Ohio, swears he rented a $300 biochemistry textbook for $7 using bigwords.com. He describes the website as a “textbook search engine” that shows you where you can get a book for the best price. It even looks up coupons for you to get you more deals.
If all else fails, there’s a good chance there’s someone at your school who took that same course last semester and wants to get rid of their textbook they are likely to never use again. More often than not, there’s a Facebook group you can join where people post textbooks they’re selling. Most of the time they just want to get rid of the book so they’ll give you a good discount on it.
Just think, with all the money you saved on textbooks you can use for fueling up with coffee for those midnight cramming sessions.
What are your tips and tricks for saving money at school?
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