Out of all the college expenses that are thrown our way as incoming freshmen, tuition and rent are substantially pricier than materials and books. So what makes textbooks a special case? How easily freshmen are tricked into overpaying for them! In high school, I lost track of the amount of times I heard how costly books can be. Therefore, it seemed normal when my first semester’s textbooks alone added up to $300. What people fail to emphasize is just how simple saving money on books can be!
First things first, it is important to check with each of your teachers on whether buying or renting your own copy of the course textbook is really necessary. Oftentimes, students are only required to purchase a cheaper online version of the book, and even if this isn’t the case, there are many inexpensive used and new books you can order online as opposed to the on-campus bookstore. The options for affordable textbooks really are unlimited, from Amazon or Chegg, to the Letgo phone app. Even on social media, you can connect with students who are putting their used books up for sale.
If you have tried every possible way to lower costs, and still need options to raise money for books, do not worry! All Florida students are eligible for the Bright Futures Scholarship, which covers up to $300 dollars’ worth of materials. You definitely do not have to limit your scholarship search to full rides; the scholarships easiest to apply to are substantial enough to cover your books and materials. If applying to individual scholarships can be too time consuming, you can consider any of the countless accommodating part-times jobs available both on and off campus. Do not be afraid to earn quick and easy money in creative ways! For example, I have put my artistic talent to use by selling dorm art to students at UF. If you’re unable to immediately raise money, campus bookstores also offer disbursement, which makes it possible for students to pay for their books at a later time at no additional cost
Never forget the cheapest alternative to buying textbooks is simply checking books out for free at the library. I realized my mistake of paying $230 for a Calculus textbook after I saw the same one sitting in my campus library. Be smart and save money wherever you can! Even if your parents are paying for your education, learning conscious spending is a lifetime skill your future self will highly thank you for.