A young female student smiling while holding college textbooks in a bookstore.
Freshman Finances

5 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

College can be expensive. This isn’t new information, but with each passing year, students are finding new ways to mitigate the damage to their wallets through cost-cutting measures and out-of-the-box thinking.

As a financial service designer for college students, Varsity wants to make finding affordable textbook solutions even easier; that’s why we’ve collected a handful of our favorite strategies students have come up with to save some cash.

Here are five ways to get free college textbooks, where to find cheap textbooks, and how to find college textbooks online, to make the beginning of your school year a little more reasonable.

Check the Public Domain

A lot of textbooks are available to everyone at no cost, if you know where to find them. Check your syllabus and build a list of all the books you’ll be expected to possess for that semester, then go on the hunt. Project Gutenberg is one of the largest, free ebook libraries available, and is likely to have at least a couple of your texts on hand.

Consider Renting

The CampusBooks retailer reported that books rented made up approximately 35% of their Fall 2020 sales. As students have started to understand their alternate textbook options, renting has jumped to the top of the list. Renting has become so prevalent that there are several services dedicated to the availability of rental textbooks, including Valore, Chegg, and Amazon.

Buy a Second-Hand Version

If the textbook required by your curriculum isn’t the latest edition, buying it used is your best option. A second-hand version, regardless of the state of its physical quality, is seen as less valuable than a copy that’s fresh off the press. Assuming the textbook is in good condition, buying it second-hand is a fantastic alternative to the fully-priced original.

Purchase the Electronic Version

One of the most practical alternatives on the market, buying a digital textbook has many advantages over its analogue counterpart. For one, it’s almost always significantly cheaper, and what’s more, there’s no need to carry around a backpack bulging with books, preserving your physical health with your finances.

Take Advantage of the Open Textbook Network

Arguably the most exhaustive and useful resource on our list, the Open Textbook Network is a giant collective of free, open-source textbooks available to any university that’s a part of its 600+ university network. It offers complete, peer-reviewed texts across all topics, so it’s worth checking to see if any of your required books are available here before you spend any money. If you’re fortunate, you could end up saving quite a bit over the course of your college career.

Keep Track of Your Money with Varsity

As you buy or rent textbooks for the semester, it’s easy to lose track of where your hard-earned money goes. Before your cash gets lost in the shuffle of preparing for a new semester, consider a savings account or checking account from Varsity. Our mobile and online banking services can help you keep an eye on your funds whenever, wherever.

Learn more about opening an account with Varsity today!

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