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Buying college textbooks can be costly

Going to college is expensive, and the cost of buying college textbooks can break any budget. Nationally, textbooks cost students an average of $1100 a year. This varies by school and major. The Government Accountability Office calculates that the cost of textbooks has increased at more than twice the rate of inflation over the last 25 years, and prices are now triple what they were in 1986. Luckily, there are several ways to reduce these costs.

Buy Used
Used textbooks are much cheaper than new ones. A used book can be as little as one-third the price of a new book. These savings will add up over the course of your college career, so buying used books should be at the forefront of your savings strategy. They tend to sell out well before the semester starts; shop early for the best results.

Rent Books
Some bookstores will rent out popular textbooks. This can save you a lot of money, but sometimes the rental fee is more than the cost of a used book, so you need to be sure to comparison shop.

Go Off-Campus
When you are buying college textbooks, it pays to shop around. The campus bookstore is always the most expensive place to buy books. Every college town has at least one off-campus bookstore that sells textbooks for less than the campus store.

Order Online
You can also skip the bookstore altogether and head to the internet. Sites like Amazon and Half.com sell college textbooks for much less than brick-and-mortar stores. Sometimes they even throw in free shipping. Some sites sell only new books, while others sell both new and used copies. Get your book list from your campus store and log on to find out how much you can save. Just be sure to do it early, so your textbooks will arrive before classes begin.