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Mechanical Engineering
West Sand Lake NY

Textbooks on a Budget

Patricia Schiotis on Monday, 22 August 2011. Posted in Coursework

Back to school means yet another expense… Textbooks.  Like many of you, I run on a student budget, and cannot afford expensive textbooks; luckily, there are many ways to save money when it comes to purchasing your required books.

  • Ask Upperclassmen:  For many classes, the “required” textbooks are not actually “required,” but may be more of a professor suggestion.  This may be hard for your first quarter, but once you have familiarized yourself with campus, ask upperclassmen who have taken those classes if those required textbooks were necessary.  If they used their books for those specific courses, inquire if they still have their old textbooks and if they would sell them to you at a cheaper rate.
  • Rent:  Barnes and Noble started the offering the rental of textbooks last year.  Instead of buying the books for full cost and then selling them back at the end of the quarter for a fraction of the price, students are now able to rent certain textbooks from the book store for the quarter they are needed.  For more information on renting from barnes and noble: Click here
    • Another popular site I have used to rent my textbooks was  Although not all my books have been available, some of my past books have been available to rent via chegg. 
  • Used books:  Not all books have to be brand-spanking new.  Often times, the textbook editions are used numerous quarters in a row.  Instead of buying the new book, I suggest you check if there are used, more affordable, editions available at Barnes and Noble.  Also, if you have time before classes start, search on online sources such as or to see if the used books are available.
    • Rochester Textbooks:  Located a few minutes from campus, this used book store has a variety of textbooks available to students at discounted prices.  I recommend going there early, before the books you need are no longer available. 
  • Share with your friends:  For most of my classes, I tend to do all my studying in groups.  If you work in a group of three to four people, there is no need for four of the same textbook, so it would make sense to split the cost, and share the book with one of your friends.  If you are going to work together, why not share the cost of the book?  Just make sure you and your friend have a set plan of studying, so you know when to share the textbook if you are not together.
  • Older Editions:  Some professors realize students run on a budget, so although the course asks for the latest edition, you may be able to work from previous editions of the same book.  If the older edition can be used, the professors will either scan the newer edition textbook homework sets, or post the questions that are used from both editions, so students with either edition will have the homework problems.
  • Note for the end of the quarter- determine which books you will not need to use again, and sell your purchased books back to the bookstore.  If you ever need to reference your books again, there are numerous books available either on reference at the Wallace Library circulation desk or throughout the library.  Also, you can see if your current books are available on reserve by checking on the course reserves site for the library

There are probably many other ways to save on textbooks; these are just a few I have utilized since being at RIT.  My first quarter, I spent over $500 on textbooks, and since learning about these resources, I have not spent over $100 any quarter since.