When you're heading to school for higher education, once you hit the bookstore, the real price of earning a degree suddenly hits. Whether you're attending community college to save on tuition or a four-year school, the cost of textbooks is truly staggering. Some students save money by buying used textbooks, but this isn't always an option for all classes or all students as used textbooks tend to be limited and may also be outdated by newer editions. In recent years, another solution to the high cost of textbooks has appeared: textbook rentals.
While renting your textbooks may sound like an excellent solution, its important to do a little research first, as renting textbooks isn't always completely cost effective for every student. Before you rent or purchase your textbook, ask the follow questions so that you can make the best possible decision.
What is Renting?
Renting a textbook can be either a physical or e-textbook. You pay an amount for the use of the book for a designated period of time (usually a semester) and then turn it back in. Different companies offer differ benefits, time periods, restrictions and it is important to look at everything from shipping costs to the length of the rental before opting for a rental.
What Are the Total Costs of Renting or Buying Textbooks?
If you just look at the initial numbers, renting a textbook tends to be a very tempting option. The upfront cost of a textbook rental is almost always significantly less than that of a purchase. However, there are other things to consider.
In addition to the actual cost of the rental, it is likely that you will also have to pay a shipping fee for your textbook rental, which will increase if you need the book shipped overnight for a class that starts soon. Some companies do offer free shipping, which is always a plus.
Some students are wary of renting a book because they look forward to reselling the book and recovering some of their loss at the end of the semester. This isn't necessarily a reason to buy. Not all textbooks can be resold, especially if a new edition comes out or if the class stops being taught, rendering the book worthless. Also, the resell value of a book tends to be a mere fraction of what you paid for it initially, hardly making it a reliable form of income for your summer plans.
Rental costs are generally per semester. If your book is needed for a longer period of time, say a math or science course that is taught over two semesters, it may not pay to rent your book. And if the textbook ends up being a reference guide, you may end up wanting to keep it for the long term making renting inadvisable.
What Are Your Personal Habits?
Some people are hard on their books, marking them, dropping them and flat out losing them. Although some wear and tear is understandable, if you don't take good care of your rental, you can expect to be charged a fee. If you miss the deadline for turning in your rental, you can also be charged a fee. These fees on top of the initial rental fee can be as much or more as buying the book.
Be sure to take every factor into consideration before deciding whether or not to rent or purchase your textbook.