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Save Money on College Textbooks

Programming textbook spines.

It is no secret that college tuition costs continue to rise. However, the cost of college textbooks has risen 1,041% since 1977. A recent survey shows the average college student can expect to pay between $500 - $700 per sememster for textbooks. In fact some schools now charge over $400 for one textbook! So what can military students do to save money on books while in college?

1. Try e-textbooks. Try using your electronic devices to access your course materials. eBooks are steadily increasing in popularity and offer a lower cost option when compared with the hard copy version. There are even some websites that offer free online versions of textbooks. For those who like to tab pages and highlight while reading or studying, don't fret, there are a variety of free apps available for that will allow you to mark your e-book like a hard copy textbook.

2. Rent them. Your campus bookstore may offer the lower cost option to rent your books and return them at the end of the semester. For example at one east coast college a new hardcover version of a calculus textbook costs $305 at the campus bookstore but a digital rental version is available at the same campus bookstore for $92. 

There are also several websites that offer the option to rent textbooks as well. Exercise caution with this option to make sure you fully understand the rental agreement terms and conditions. Also, this may not be an option for textbooks that you may need to keep such as writing manuals that you may need for formatting papers or books from the core area of your major.

3. Book Reserves or Exchanges. There are a few colleges that are leading the way in textbook affordability by offering students the option of reserving textbooks through the school's library for free or a small access fee. Also, some on-base/post military education centers have colleges that manage book exchanges for their military students to either sell or exchange their textbooks.

4. Buy Used. The easiest way to get cheaper books is to purchase used textbooks from your campus or online bookstore. Major online retailers also offer good deals on used books. Pay attention to the title, author, edition, and ISBN number to ensure you are getting the correct version of the book for your class.

5. Use social media. Does your school have a Facebook group page for students or are you connected with other college students through you social media accounts? If so, spread the word on the books that you need. A friend may come to the rescue.

6. Sell your used textbooks. If you are done with your books, sell them to your school's bookstore or through an online retailer. You could use the money you made to reinvest into another low cost option for purchasing books for your next set of classes. If you are feeling generous, consider donating them to your on-base/post book exchange. If you don't have one where you are stationed, pave the way and work with your local education center to start one.

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