6 ways to save on textbook costs

It’s no secret textbooks can be expensive, especially when you’re carrying a full course load. Here are six tips to help mitigate the impact on your wallet.

Shop around!

This is something I cannot stress enough. Many times, students feel the need to buy books directly from the University’s bookstore, but that’s not necessary. Instead, use the bookstore as a starting point to learn what books you need and then start comparing costs.

Whether you rent or buy (and then sell back) a textbook, be smart about it! While shopping for textbooks for this upcoming semester I was able to save myself well over $200 just by taking a few more minutes and looking at different websites. If jumping from Chegg to Amazon and other websites just to find the lowest cost isn’t your thing, I’ve got great news. There are now websites who will even do all the work for you, such as Bigwords.com. On a site like this, you just enter the ISBN number of the book you are looking for and it will bring up a list of all the places you can buy/rent the textbook in an organized manner of lowest to highest price. The little bit of work and some research will save you lots of money in the long run.

Talk to the professors

Before the semester starts, and before you go ahead and buy your books, email your professors about the textbooks they have listed. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the important questions. Find out if your professor actually plans on using all the books they have listed; you never know, maybe that $150 book isn’t actually required. You can also save money by purchasing an older edition of a book, so ask if the edition that’s listed (usually the newest) is necessary. Usually from edition to edition the content of these textbooks doesn’t change much; it may be a word here or there or just a formatting difference. If you’re able to buy a book that is even only one edition behind, you can pay as little as a dollar for it!

Talk to your friends

If you know someone who has taken a class you are in already, ask if they happened to keep the textbook. If they did, you may be able to buy it off of them at a discounted price, or even borrow it for free for the semester! It might seem silly to think that someone would save their textbooks instead of selling them back, but it never hurts to ask. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Go to your classmates

Its common practice for students to look at the class roster before the class begins because everyone wants to know if they’ve got a friend in class with them. So first, I recommend checking who is in your class. If there is at least one person you know (you don’t have to be best friends) than you’ve got a golden opportunity. Chances are, you are not the only one looking to avoid paying full price for a book, so see if you can split the cost/book with one of your classmates. If there is ever a time you both need the book, one of you can always make copies of the pages or you can study together as partners. That way, everybody wins.


If you’ve got an e-reader, than you’re probably in luck when it comes to textbooks. Almost 100% of the time the cost of an ebook will be significantly lower than a physical copy of the textbook because the publisher is saving money on printing costs. The key to success when using an ebook is making sure that you are comfortable with the navigation process, and your inability to physically take notes on or in the book (though I don’t recommend doing this with any textbook). Different e-readers have different features such as the ability to highlight passages or bookmark pages, so make sure that you know the ins and outs of your e-reader before taking the plunge into the realm of ebooks.

Check the library

Libraries on college campuses are there for academic purposes. This means that the library on campus will differ from your public library at home because of the target audience and content of the shelves. You may not find as many fun novels to read, but you may luck out with finding your textbook on the shelf, essentially already paid for. You’ll likely have to make a few trips to the library throughout the semester to renew your book(s) but that just means you’ll get a breath of fresh air and free books!

Why You’ll be Happy You Took the Core

Ah, so we have arrived on the topic of the core.

“The core of what?” you ask.

I’m talking about Loyola’s core curriculum. You know, those classes that everyone has to take no matter your major. Some people dread it, other people love it. Either way you’re gonna have to face it, so why not get something positive out of these new areas of study?

When I first heard about the core, my mom was all “wow you’re going to get such a well-rounded education” and I was like “oh yeah totally, I can do this, I can learn everything!” … and then the time came for classes to begin. I was a bit apprehensive once I realized I had to take math, and language, and science — some of the subjects that don’t exactly highlight my skill set. But I realized that I had to trust in the system. Loyola would not have let me come here if they didn’t have faith in me, and the core really does serve a purpose.

You will learn to love this. I promise.

To begin, I’ll point out the obvious. For all students, whether you come to Loyola knowing what your intended major is or you are undecided, the core allows you to explore it all. I took some communications courses and found my major, but I came here set on photography and journalism and I am (happily) studying neither of those today and I have the core to thank. I made it through my math and language courses just fine and then I found a passion with sociology. As I was browsing the course catalog trying to choose a social science course I landed on an intro sociology course focused on societies and institutions. That one course led me to sign up for another sociology course the next semester, and the next thing I knew I was declaring a minor when previously I had no intent to minor in anything. The best part was I didn’t care how practical this course of study might be, or how it would fit in with everything else; the core allowed me to branch out of what I was comfortable with and learn something new about both myself and the world.

Along the same lines, the core can lead you to take out-of-the-ordinary classes that end up being fun. I bet you never thought you’d say school could be fun. But it really can! For one of my theology requirements I wanted to branch out from what I thought I knew, so I took a class on Judaism. I was blown away with how interesting and fascinating this historic religion was; and to think I could have missed out on this if it weren’t for the core.

This is the time when you can take classes that, at first glance, don’t seem to outwardly relate to anything. However, I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You’ll be surprised at how much you didn’t know. You’ll be surprised at how lucky you were to find a new topic that interests you. You’ll be surprised how much you take away from the class and apply it to your main area of study, because you’ll be surprised at how everything really is connected.

The core curriculum seems, to many, as just another requirement, an additional step in getting a degree, maybe even a hassle. But it is so much more than that, all you have to do is give it a chance. The foundation of a Loyola education is the core curriculum; it is the broad and truly well-rounded education you will be receiving over the next four years. The core will both challenge and delight you.

Be open to the core. Embrace it.