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

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.23%4.19%
15 yr fixed3.26%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.70%3.38%
30 yr refi4.22%4.18%
15 yr refi3.26%3.26%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,279.74 13.75 0.08%
Nasdaq 4,579.79 -13.64 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 2:22pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 40.93 -1.16 -2.74%
Microsoft Corp 47.52 0.84 1.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.95 -0.09 -0.53%
Oracle Corp 39.80 -1.75 -4.21%
Facebook Inc 77.91 0.91 1.18%
Data as of Sep 19

Sections

7,000 Ravens fans traded Ray Rice jerseys for one with another player's name. The team gave vouchers after it ran out of replacement jerseys. More

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given more money than many western nations. More

As Occupy Wall Street goes on its debt-abolishing tear, thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.