4 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

4 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

The links in the post below may be affiliate links. For more information, please read our disclosure


College, for me, was an amazing and rewarding experience – both academically and personally. It was also an expensive experience. And I quickly became creative in finding ways to save money! College textbooks, for example, sometimes cost well over $100 each! This is a lot of money for a starving student! The most common ways to save money on textbooks is by buying used or renting them, but here are some other creative ways to save money on college textbooks.

Contact Your Professors Before the Semester Starts

The first thing you’ll want to do to help you save money on textbooks is contact your professors before classes start. You’ll want to ask them for the syllabus. Why, you ask? This way you have more time to shop for the lowest priced option on your textbooks or set out a plan to use the ideas below.

As a bonus, you could also get started on your assignments early, lightening your load some. For me, this led several of my professors to believe I was extra brainy…little did they know why I was asking 🙂

Buy Past Editions of Your Textbooks

For several math classes and a political science class, I bought an older edition of the current textbook than what the rest of the class was using. I don’t mean the used version, I mean if the rest of the class is using the 5th edition, I was using the 4th edition. The biggest difference was that some of the chapters were in different pages than in the current book so I had to search for the right pages. Other than that, the chapters were usually verbatim. I recommend, buying one edition back. If your class is using the 5th edition, I don’t recommend buying the 1st edition, but the 4th should work just fine. Sometimes these editions are hard to find, but, when available, they can be pretty cheap!

Borrow From the Public Library

In English Literature class, for example, I never bought the book. We were reading classics. The thing about classics is that they’ve been around for a while and are popular. Rather than buying the textbook for the class, which contained all we would read, I got a library card and checked out a bunch of books from the public library – if you’re away at college, your college ID should help you get a library card. This took some work because I had to look for each piece individually, but it was worth the savings. And, if you have an ereader or tablet, many classics are now available as free digital downloads from most libraries and even major book sellers.

Share a Textbook

Chances are that you have a friend that you usually study with. If you happen to be taking the same course, ask them if they want to team up on buying the textbook. I was only able to do this a couple of times, but each time it was a big savings. Bonus points if your study buddy is a brainiac and writes great notes in the textbook!

Talk With Your Professor

Professors are people too and many are passionate about higher education – hence why they’re there. If you prove yourself to be a good student, but are struggling, some may have an extra copy of the textbook they may be willing to lend. I don’t recommend bouncing up to your professor on the first day of class and asking for a textbook, but instead meet with them privately, establish a relationship and explain your situation – they may have options that can help you. This is called networking, by the way, and creating these relationships will also help you throughout your career.

4 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks
Four Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks