Can a Loan Help You Pay For Books?


Navigating the financial aspects of attending a university can be challenging. To secure tuition, room, and board, you and your family will find yourself exploring the world of scholarships, student loans, and parent loans. 

Your financial responsibilities don't stop there, however. Once you're on campus, you're going to be faced with a new dilemma-how to afford the price of books. 

Textbooks are an expense that often gets overlooked until you're actually trying to buy them. Some textbooks can cost over $200. When you're taking several classes and each class requires multiple textbooks, the price quickly adds up. 

Going without a textbook isn't an option. After all, what is the point of spending all that money on tuition if you don't have all the necessary resources that you need to be successful? 

If you're struggling to afford your textbooks, consider the following financial advice.

Check your existing financial aid 

You might not realize it, but those loans, grants, and scholarships that the government and your university's financial aid office are giving you aren't just for tuition. They're meant to fund all aspects of your education, including books. 

Some of these financial resources, such as the Pell Grant, can be used at your school's bookstore. If you notice that you have extra money in your financial aid package, check to see if any of that money can go towards your books. 

If it can, great! Use that money at the bookstore and start studying. 

Buy used, not new

Most university bookstores will try to sell you a new book at full retail price. However, most classes will use the same textbook several years in a row, which means used copies of that book are floating around. 

Use the ISBN of the book to see if any online retailers are selling used copies of the book. You can also see if students who have already taken the course would be willing to sell you their copy of the book. 

While used books may already be highlighted or have notes written in the margins, they are certainly more affordable. 

You CAN take out a loan 

Books often seem less expensive in comparison to some of your other university expenses, so the idea of taking out a smaller loan in addition to your tuition loans might seem implausible. 

However, if you need to, you can take out loans that will cover the price of books. If you've already maxed out the loans you can take out directly through your university, you can work with a bank or with a company such as to figure out what your next steps are. 

A loan might be your own option if you're in a tight financial pinch. 

Smaller scholarships are available 

When most people think of scholarships, they think of large amounts that will cover a substantial part of their tuition. What they don't realize is that there are smaller loans out there that are meant to help with expenses such as books and food. 

There are scholarships out there that will give you between $1000 and $2000 if you meet certain requirements and write a winning essay

While these scholarships may be small, take them as seriously as you would a larger scholarship. Always have someone proofread your application materials before you submit them. 

Part-time jobs help with expenses 

Balancing your education with work can be hard, but for some people, a part-time job is necessary. Working can give you the money you need for books, food, and other essentials. 

Some universities have campus employment programs that allow you to work directly on campus. Check with your financial aid office to see what your school offers.

If working on campus isn't an option, look for options within the community. Don't be afraid to work retail or wait tables-you might not want to do it for the rest of your life, but it's a way to earn money and develop interpersonal skills

Share textbooks with a friend

If you're taking the same class as a friend, see if they'd be willing to split the cost of a textbook with you. This way both of you save money and have access to the book.

Sometimes sharing a textbook can be hard, especially if you're taking the class at the exact same time (the book can't be on two desks at once!). 

It's also hard when both of you need to do homework at the same time. There are ways to make it work though, such as having a rotation schedule. 

Check the library 

Some university libraries keep copies of textbooks within their reference section. There are usually restrictions in place on these books, such as they can only be used within the library or that you can only check them out for two hours at a time.

If you have a limited budget, however, using the resources available at the library might be your own option. 

Find out the ISBNs of the books you need and look them up on your library's search engine. Keep in mind other students in your class might be using them too.

See if a professor can help 

If you're really struggling to find a way to purchase a textbook, talk to your professor to see if they have any resources they can give you. 

Many professors realize how hard it is for students to purchase books. Some professors may be willing to provide photocopy handouts or scan pages of books. Other professors might keep spare copies of textbooks in their office. 

While there is no guarantee they'll be able to help, it is still worth talking to them. If they're unable to help, they might be able to help connect you to someone who can. 


Before you get too stressed out about the price of books, make sure that you've explored all of your options. Very rarely will you need a new copy of a textbook. Most of the time, you can get by with purchasing used books or sharing a book with a friend. 

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