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Money Saving Tips for College: How to Save on Textbook Costs

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Although I was compensated, all opinions are my own.

I have college on my mind. College applications are looming for my oldest son. He’s starting to research schools. The more we look at the costs involved, the more I come to realize that I need to be smart about saving everywhere I can. Last week we talked about questions you should ask your children before spending any money on college applications. But what about saving money once you get there? Let’s talk about textbook costs. According to the National Association of College Stores, the average college student spent $655 on required course materials such as books and other media! That’s not pocket change…I certainly don’t have that kind of cash lying around to hand over to my son every semester for books! But there are money saving options for students today that weren’t available when I was in college. This week we’re going to talk about how you can save by either renting your textbooks, or earn money by buying and then renting your books to other students!

Save on your College Textbooks

When deciding whether to buy or rent, you’ll want to take these factors into consideration:

  • Prices of new versus used textbooks Used books are always going to cost less…if you are buying, you should definitely buy used if available.
  • Buyback price Take a few minutes and check to see what the current buyback cost is, just so you have that information. It may come in handy during your decision making process. If a book’s buyback price is high enough, you may save money by buying, and then reselling at the end of the semester.
  • Rental price Renting your textbooks can save you up to 80%! Considering the cost to buy a semester’s worth of books can run hundreds of dollars, that’s a significant savings!
  • Do you want to keep the book? Maybe there is a reason you want to keep the book. Perhaps the following semester you’ve got a class where it would be helpful to have the previous semester’s textbook to refer back to, or you want to hold on to a book as future resource. You may want to buy vs rent then, and consider renting your books when you aren’t using them.
  • How old is the edition and how likely is it to be continued to be used If a book is at the tail end of its lifespan, and a new edition is coming out soon, you probably want to rent! However, if the book is a newer edition, it might be smart to buy it, and then rent it to other students after the semester is over!

Campus Book Rentals

Campus Book Rentals offers both services! You can rent your books from them, and you can also rent the books you own to other students through them. In terms of renting your college textbooks, they offer free shipping both ways, flexible renting periods, risk free returns in case you decide to drop a class, AND you can highlight in your books! And they give back…Campus Book Rentals donates to Operation Smile with every textbook rented. Operation Smile is an international medical humanitarian organization with more than 5,000 medical volunteers, working to provide free cleft lip and palate reconstructive surgery to children around the world. When you rent a textbook, you are also helping a child in need!

Decided to buy? Here’s a smart way to put your textbooks to work earning money for you! 

If you’ve purchased your books, you may want to consider renting them to other students at the end of the semester. With the Campus Book Rentals program RentBack, you can rent your old books to other students and make two to four times as much money! You should see a better return this way than you would see by selling your books outright. How does it work?

RentBack Infographic

What you need to know:

  • Go to and enter in the ISBN number of your book. RentBack uses a star system…a 5 star rating means there is excellent potential for good profits over the rest of the book’s life, one star means not so good.
  • Ship your books to using a free shipping label (that’s right, you don’t have to pay to ship your books!)
  • receives your books and makes them available for students to rent, semester after semester…you get paid for each rental! And best of all, you can request funds anytime there is a positive balance! If at any point, your book will bring you more money by being sold than being rented, RentBack will be happy to take care of that for you. And, if you want your books back after their useful life ends, RentBack will send them back to you!

Want to know more?

Have you used Campus Book Rentals? If you have a student in college, what are your best money saving tips?

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Although I was compensated, all opinions are my own. 

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Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Friday 31st of January 2014

I had no idea you could rent books! Boy, I've been out of college a long time! Gotta pin this one for future reference.


Wednesday 29th of January 2014

I see these posts and I always think about whether or not the rental option was available when I was in college. I'm think it probably wasn't. Someone would have mentioned they were doing it right? It sounds like a really lucrative option. Thanks for sharing with us, Michelle!


Wednesday 29th of January 2014

What a great idea! I used to buy used textbooks and then sell them at the end of the semester. But renting them out seems like a much better business plan!


Tuesday 28th of January 2014

Wow! What a great service! I love that you can get paid every time someone rents your book.It's like a gift that keeps on giving.

I have sold back books through on campus progams and also used services like Abes but this sounds like a great way to go as well.


Tuesday 28th of January 2014

I wish they had something like this when I was in school. I had to pay my own tuition, so it was usually a week into the semester that I could afford to get (most of) my books, just to get a pittance for them in a few months. With a kid two years away from college, I'd better start thinking about what she'll do for books.