It’s officially time for school. Whether starting your freshman year, senior year or even entering grad school, the start of a new college semester brings about anxiety – especially when it comes to expenses. After tuition, buying textbooks is the largest financial stressor facing students, with the average annual cost for course materials varying from $400 to upwards of $1,000.
The good news is, students today have more options than ever when it comes to learning materials. And these choices can directly lead to cost savings.
With most colleges back to the academic grind this week, what steps can you take to save?
Ask the professor.
We’ve all had it happen – the syllabus is missing the textbook edition, or there is a misprinted title, or it is unclear what readings are required versus recommended. Take the time to check in with the instructor for recommendations on where to buy the book, options for rental or insight into digital versions that might be more cost effective. An added benefit to this step is that it puts you on the instructor’s radar, leaving a positive impression that you are engaged in the course from the start.
Consider how you learn best.
College is not a one-size-fits-all system. Today, textbooks and course materials are available in a variety of print and digital formats – at varying price points. While cost savings is often one goal, it’s also important to ensure you are using the course materials and tools that are going to best help you succeed in a given class – otherwise, what’s the point? Give weight to your personal learning style, and also, what you know about the individual courses from friends who may have taken the course previously. Consider whether a physical book helps you retain information better than an eBook, or if a digital version that includes personalized quizzes and check-ins could help give you a boost.
Do some late night cramming.
If you’ve found yourself in denial about the start of a new school year, it’s worth doing an early semester cramming session to research the materials needed for each of your courses.
Consider your choices in format and delivery model – from print and digital, to rental and subscription. There are more options now than you might think, and it’s important you find the one that fits your needs and budget. Also, if you did wait until the last minute, it should be a comfort to know that digital versions of texts are most often available immediately so you can ensure you don’t fall behind on your required reading.
Cengage Unlimited, an all-access subscription service, is one new option for saving on textbooks costs. You pay just one fee (about $120 a semester or $180 a year) to get access to every eBook in the Cengage library (22,000+ titles), as well as additional homework and study tools. And, if you still want a print version of your textbooks, you can rent one for just $7.99 per book. As part of your cram session, you can use the Cengage Unlimited Calculator to figure out how much you could save, and if it makes sense based on the textbooks your professors require.
College is expensive. Yet, by following these three steps, you’ll find options that lessen the burden and help you start the semester off on a path to success.