A light brunette young woman reads a book amidst a park setting.

The average student spends hundreds of dollars on textbooks, an expense that can be significantly reduced by renting, buying used or obtaining books and supplies from nontraditional sources.

The Cal State system estimates that books and supplies for full-time Cal State Fullerton students is $1,860 per year. Yet there are a number of ways for students to save big on their textbooks.

Textbooks and course materials are a major expenditure for many students – particularly business students, who tend to pay more than some other majors for their course materials. In the national conversation on college affordability, the cost of textbooks is often forgotten, but since 1977, the cost of textbooks has risen three times faster than inflation, or a 1,041% increase.

Fortunately, there is no need for students to compromise their grades by not buying textbooks. There are several ways for students to cut costs and sometimes make money off of their course materials. Here are seven tips.

1. Rent your textbooks

Almost all textbooks are available for rental at Titan Shops, which results in significant savings, especially if you rent a used book. Students can save up to 90% off of new costs this way, and there is no limit to the number of textbooks a student may rent in a given semester. Renters are even allowed to moderately underline in their books, though the texts must be in generally good condition when returned at the end of the semester.

2. Apply for the book rental scholarship – Now open for spring 2017 

Take rental savings to a new level by applying for the Titan Shops Free Book Rental Program. This scholarship pays for the complete cost of all textbooks required or suggested for the semester’s coursework. The scholarship is open to continuing full-time undergraduate and graduate students of all majors, though first-semester students are ineligible. An application for the spring 2017 semester is available on the ASI scholarship website. An essay discussing one or more books that the student has found impactful is required for consideration.

3. Sell back your textbooks

Whether you buy your textbooks new or used, you can usually sell them back at the end of the semester when Titan Shops operates book buyback locations throughout campus. Sometimes, it isn’t even necessary to have bought your book at the bookstore to get a buyback, since books bought on Amazon or elsewhere will be bought back if they will be used in future courses.

Tent advertising textbook buybacks in front of Titan Shops at Cal State Fullerton in spring 2016.

No matter where you got your textbooks, try selling them back at the Titan Shops buyback stations at the end of each semester.

4. Trade your books in on Amazon

Let’s say your textbook isn’t eligible for a Titan Shops buyback. Then it’s time to check the Amazon trade-in value. Users submit their books and other materials, with free shipping, to Amazon, which will provide a credit that can be used toward future textbooks or any other purchases on the Amazon website.

5. Buy an older edition

You will want to check with your professor to see if this is applicable for your course, but sometimes textbook editions change very little, yet they will cost only pennies on Amazon and other online sites if a new edition has come out. For best results, try the edition immediately before the current edition. For example, if the course requires the 12th edition, you could try the 11th.

6. Try digital editions

Many books are available for a discount in digital format from Titan Shops. Or you can purchase or rent an e-book through Amazon.

7. Look into academic technology resources

Think you have to spend hundreds of dollars on software for your courses? Think again: Cal State Fullerton offers free software for students, including Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Commons. For more information, check the Division of Information Technology. 

Leave a Reply