According to a report done by Education Data Initiative (EDI) in July 2022, students spending money on class materials has declined as much as 43.6% over a term of ten years. This same report showed the average textbook costs $105.37 with hard copy books costing between $80 and $150. This is equal to $1,226 spent a year for the average full-time, in-state undergraduate at a public university that is four years.

The EDI says that 25% of students have reported they have worked extra hours in order to pay for course materials and 11% have said they have skipped meals in order to afford these materials.

Even though these materials can be costly, there are multiple ways students can save money on their textbooks like buying or renting books, finding the book online as an eBook, or utilizing financial aid

Buying, Renting, and eBooks

Looking at buying or renting a textbook is a great way to cut some costs. Online stores like Amazon and Chegg offer a variety of ways students can purchase their textbooks.

Buying a used textbook can often cut the price of a textbook significantly and could provide extra notes from previous users.

Loose Leaf versions of course material are also a great option for those that are trying to cut costs. These unbound three-hole punched books fit nicely into a binder and can help when having to flip through pages repeadetly for homework.

Many professors have switched to online based courses due to the pandemic, allowing for students to use eBook or eTextbook books for their class though EDI reports 43% of professors believe students learn more from printed text than eBooks. Purchasing an online book is often one of the cheapest ways to buy needed course materials. Not only can it be cheaper, but students also do not have to carry around a various number of textbooks in order to complete course work.

When buying from Amazon or Chegg, different versions of the books are shown with prices to help ensure the buyer is getting their product for the best price. On many books the buyer will be able to see the cost to buyer a new or used book, rent a new or used book, purchase an eTextbook or Loose Leaf. Not all books are available in all options.

Unlike Amazon, Chegg gives those with textbooks the option to sell their book to the store. Those looking at making some extra cash off their old materials just need to enter the textbook ISBN for a value and ship their book to GoTextbooks.

Amazon and Chegg are not the only options for purchasing course materials online. Here are some other stores that students often look at when preparing for the semester ahead:

Utilizing Financial Aid

Over 10 million students submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) at the Office of Federal Student Aid for financial assistance during their college education. Students are able to utilize federal funding to help cover the cost of tuition, meals, housing, transportion, fees and books. According to a 2022 EDI report, only 27.9% of students have used financial aid to pay for textbooks with 70% of their costs being covered

Although federal funding is not always used to purchase textbooks and course materials, textbook scholarships are a great option to help save money and receive financial help.

Here are some textbook scholarships students can apply for if they meet the requirements:

Universities and colleges also provide scholarships available to their students on their websites to help pay for college expenses: