The College Board says the average student will spend more than $1,200 a year on textbooks and school supplies, but students have a variety of options for managing these costs.
Online outlets and creative approaches are increasingly the go-to choices for students. Renting textbooks is on the rise, allowing students to use a book for the semester, often at a significant discount to buying.
Here is the 101 on the best ways to score a deal.
Buying online: Some new book prices can be one-third of what you might find at the campus bookstore if you go online. The ninth edition of "Calculus" by Ron Larson, Bruce Edwards, and Robert Hostetler carries a list price of nearly $290 but can be purchased new for $239.99 at specialty textbook retailer Chegg.com.
Buying used: If you do not mind other people's notes or wear and tear, used texts are a good option. "Calculus" is selling for $93.49 used on Chegg.com.
Academics such as Ingrid Bracey, director of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's College Without Walls, suggest students check with their professors to see if previous editions are acceptable. (Sometimes the updates are not relevant to the classwork.) If so, old editions can often be found for a tiny fraction of the cost of the latest version. Besides Chegg and Amazon, eBay Inc's Half.com is a popular alternative for used books.
Renting: Renting your textbooks is worth considering if you take reasonable care of them, you remember to return them and you do not care to own them after you complete the class.
You can save more than 80 percent of the cost of buying a book new. For example, a student could rent "Calculus" for the length of the semester for about $20.
Know the rules of the store you rent from, including any penalties you could be assessed for taking notes, highlighting, or wear and tear.
Renter beware: If you fail to return the book, penalties can actually exceed the cost of buying it new.
E-books: Getting e-books instead of traditional texts is another option. Sometimes those books are essentially rented by providing the electronic license for a specific period from distributors such as Amazon.com, Chegg and Barnes & Noble Inc.
Chegg will rent "Calculus" for six months for about $61.
Bracey says students in literature classes can often find the best bargains because many classics are available to download for free, while science and engineering texts can be extremely expensive.