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2012 College Students To Spend Less On Books

Students estimate they spend $655 annually on required course materials – that is down from $667 two years ago and from $702 four years ago, according to the latest Student Watch™ study conducted by OnCampus Research, a division of the National Association of College Stores (NACS).

“This is terrific news for students, who continue to be pressured by the higher cost of attending college. The steady decline in textbook spending indicates that the money-saving strategies college stores have implemented are working,” said Charles Schmidt, NACS’ director of public relations.
College stores now routinely offer students the option of renting a hard copy textbook – the format preferred by 74% of college students. The number of college stores offering textbook rental over the past two years has skyrocketed, and such print-version rental programs can save a student between 45-66% off the price of a new print textbook, he said.
In addition, college stores continue to work hard to increase their stock of used textbooks, a 25% savings for students, and digital, which can save students 40% off the new-text price. Some college stores also offer such innovations as guaranteed buyback, price-matching, and textbook sales the day before classes begin.
Schmidt offered the following suggestions to students seeking to save money on textbooks:
  1. Buy used books whenever possible. College stores strive to provide as many used textbooks as possible, but they can sell out quickly. Shop the store early or buy directly from your college store’s web site to take advantage of used-book sales.
  2. Consider renting or purchasing electronic texts. Almost all college stores offer these options, and rentals can give cost-conscious students temporary access to course materials for about one-third to half the price of buying a new text.
  3. Become a fan of your campus bookstore’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Stores often will give advance notice of moneysaving specials to followers or fans.
  4. Be cautious of hackers, spammers and phishers when purchasing course materials online from outside/unknown sources. Items might not arrive on time, be incorrect, or not include required access codes. Also, don’t forget to consider shipping expenses in the total cost of the textbook. To avoid delays, check your college store’s web site for ordering convenience and peace of mind. Your local college store guarantees the correct title and edition chosen by your instructor.
  5. Know your store’s refund policy, especially deadlines. This way, you won’t be disappointed if you drop a class.
  6. Keep receipts. Most stores require them for returns. Also, textbook receipts are helpful during tax season when filing for the American Opportunity Tax Credit. For details on what to do and how to apply for the credit, go to
  7. Don’t write in or unwrap books until you’re certain you’ll be keeping them. Most sellers won’t offer full credit for books that have been marked or bundles that have been opened.
  8. If you have a choice between buying a textbook by itself, or packaged with a study guide or software, make sure you need both parts.
  9. When buying locally, consider paying cash or by debit card to avoid credit card fees and interest. But use a credit card when buying from online sellers in case disputes arise.
  10. If you have questions, ask! Your college store professional is the course material expert, dedicated to helping you obtain all of the educational tools you need for academic success in the format you desire.
SOURCE National Association of College Stores

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