Back to school: Save big bucks on college textbooks

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Monday, August 26, 2019
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Back to school: Save big bucks on college textbooks - Nydia Han reports during Action News at 5pm on August 26, 2019.

The ability to afford college textbooks is a challenge for many students. Some have to budget well over $1,000 dollars a year for textbooks. But there are ways to save.

"I don't have a family with means to support me so I have to take out loans to pay for everything," said Nicholas Carmack.

Carmack is a first-generation college student studying sociology at Temple University.

"The biggest portion of college for me isn't even the tuition it's all the extra stuff," he said.

One of those extras being textbooks. Jordan Davis at Rutgers Camden agreed.

"It's very stressful because as of now, I don't even work and I have to get books for next year," he said.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group said textbook publishers employ a number of strategies to boost their own bottom lines. Those strategies include publishing new editions or custom editions for certain classes in an effort to force students to buy new.

"Calculus hasn't changed fundamentally in the past 300 years and so pumping out a new edition of a book every two years is just way to remove those used books," explained Kaitlyn Vitez of U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

But there are ways students can save in the short term. First, vote with your wallet when you register for classes. When you can, choose courses that offer the cheapest textbook options and make sure there are no access codes listed, those are online codes you have to pay for.

"And then number two is to check the libraries. So, the school library will sometimes buy copies of textbooks and keep them on reserve," said Vitez.

Those books can be reserved for free for students.

Number three is to shop used. Look for local exchanges on campus, some are hosted on social media like on Facebook.

"Beyond that, you can also get a rental from a website like Chegg," said Vitez.