Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Textbooks on a budget

By Jennifer Bragg, CNN producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Thanks to new law effective last month, colleges and universities are now required to list all course materials online before the start of the semester.

Before you head back to campus or send your kids off to school, check the online course schedule. You will find textbook prices and ISBN numbers all in one place. Armed with this useful info, you want to make sure to get the best deals possible on books this semester. Here's how:

Rent
students_graduation.cr.03.jpg

Used books have always been cheaper than new ones, but renting is for the super-saver.

Compare rental prices on sites like Chegg.com and CampusBookRentals.com. Both of these sites provide free shipping on rental returns.

But keep in mind, this is a little like online movie renting. You will be hit with a hefty fee if you return the book just one day late.

And the campus library doesn't charge a dime! Plenty of colleges set aside copies of textbooks in the library that can be used at no cost at all.

E-books

If you are willing to forego your hi-lighter for a semester, purchasing textbooks in an electronic format can be a bargain.

Check out sites like CourseSmart.com and AbeBooks.com. These sites allow you to download textbooks to your computer or handheld device for less than you will pay for the hard copy and the e-text is often accompanied by supplemental course materials, like practice questions.

Think you won't use the whole book? iChapters.com allows you to buy and print textbooks one chapter at a time.

Comparison shop

If you want to go the old fashioned route and buy your books, shop around.

Head to CampusBooks.com or BigWords.com to compare textbook prices from vendors like Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Half.com.

These site will even add up the total price of an order so you can compare the cost of multiple books plus shipping.

Keep in mind, used books may be cheaper and they're definitely enticing, but shop by ISBN number. Textbooks are often updated and changes are made. You want to make sure you have the correct edition To top of page

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.87%
15 yr fixed3.14%3.16%
5/1 ARM3.54%3.50%
30 yr refi3.79%3.83%
15 yr refi3.13%3.15%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,386.03 56.87 0.23%
Nasdaq 6,875.08 35.00 0.51%
S&P 500 2,659.99 8.49 0.32%
Treasuries 2.39 0.00 0.08%
Data as of 5:57pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 17.65 -0.06 -0.34%
Bank of America Corp... 28.94 -0.11 -0.38%
Ford Motor Co 12.58 -0.03 -0.24%
CenturyLink Inc 15.87 1.20 8.18%
Apple Inc 172.67 3.30 1.95%
Data as of 4:01pm ET

Sections

More than 5% of DACA recipients have started their own businesses since enrolling the program, according to a recent survey. More

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised that his tax office would produce an analysis showing that the GOP tax plan would pay for itself. A short memo on Monday asserted that it would but without any in-depth analysis explaining why. More

More companies are starting to approve the use of ephemeral messaging apps for internal communications. More