10 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

College textbooks are necessary for your courses and can be expensive. The average student is spending $628 to $1,471 on textbooks a semester.  If you’re paying for college out of pocket or taking out loans, that number adds up over the 4 years you’re in school. And when you get to graduate school, it can be even more expensive! To help with the costs, College Raptor is here to show you exactly how to save money on textbooks so you’re not pinching pennies each semester. 

College major textbooks.

10 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

1. Rent Books

After you’re finished with your college course, you most likely won’t use your expensive textbook ever again. When you rent your college textbooks, they’re much cheaper and you won’t have to worry about trying to find someone to buy them or having them clutter your desk space. Amazon and Knetbooks are great college textbook rental sites. They’ll give you a time period to return your books and it’s super easy to use. Just type in your book’s International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to ensure it’s the right one.  

2. Buy an Older Edition

Before you decide to look for an older edition of the textbook you need, ask your professor if the newest edition is necessary. Some professors won’t mind you using an older edition because most of the information is there, while other professors will prefer the latest edition. 

3. Buy Used Books

If you still want to own your book but don’t want to pay top dollar, just buy a used textbook! They might be a little damaged or look used, but they get the job done at a discounted price. And, once you’re finished using them, you can sell your old textbooks to make some money back at the end of the semester. Check with other students at your school to see if they’re selling their used textbooks and maybe they’ll lower the price for you. 

4. Use an eBook

Many college classes require you to buy an access code along with the textbook. Many access codes will include the eBook, so you won’t need to purchase a physical textbook. This way you won’t have to carry around your heavy book or clutter your desk space when it’s conveniently on your laptop or computer. Digital textbooks are the future!

5. Check Your School Library 

Many colleges have their textbooks available in the campus library. The downside to using the school library is that someone may already have the book you need checked out or in use. It’s still smart to check the school library to see if it’s available for students so you can save money on your college costs each semester, even if you can only find one of your course’s books. Some university libraries even have an online catalog to see what’s available for college students. 

6. Share Books

If you have a friend taking the same class with the same professor as you, then you could split the cost of the textbook. It’s best if your friend has a different class schedule than you if you need your textbook during class. If you don’t need your textbook during lectures, you can split it with someone in your class. After you’re done with the course, you can sell your textbook and split the profit!

7. Apply for Scholarships 

Scholarships are the best way to get money for college necessities. Many scholarships can be used for other things besides tuition like books and access codes! With scholarship money, you can buy expensive books at the college bookstore that are brand new! When you buy books with textbook scholarships, you can even sell them at the end of the semester to make money! Use College Raptor’s scholarship search tool to find all the scholarships you’re eligible for!

8. Compare Websites

Since there are so many online retailers to buy or rent college textbooks from, it’s important to compare them all. Choose a few sites you trust like Chegg, Knetbooks, Amazon, and others to see their prices. Cheap college textbooks are available online, you just have to look! Make sure you consider the shipping cost when comparing the websites so you can save on all parts of the purchase. 

9. Ask Your Professor if the Book is Required

Yes, almost all college classes have an assigned textbook but they are not all required by your professor. Many professors will add the textbook to the syllabus but not all of them will require students to actually get it. Ask other students who took that professor if the textbook was needed before asking the professor if you can opt out of buying it. 

10. Check out Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is an online library with over 60,000 free books available to the public. You can search for your textbook in the domain to see if it’s featured on the site. A free college textbook? Sign us up! Even if only one of your textbooks is available a semester on this free site, that’ll save you hundreds of dollars each year!


All in all, college textbooks are a cost students often forget to consider or underestimate each semester. Learning how to save money on textbooks will allow students to save hundreds and even thousands of dollars throughout their college careers! 

If scholarships, other grant aid, and these tips on how to save money on textbooks aren’t enough to cover all of your college costs, consider a private student loan. You can compare lenders and rates, side by side with ease with College Raptor’s Student Loan Finder.