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Asking for a Friend: Can I Buy My Books With Financial Aid?

buy my books

When you’re a college student, money is always tight. Even if you have a job to help pay for some essentials, you probably still need financial aid to cover school-related expenses. 

One of the school-related expenses that many students forget to budget for is textbooks. And textbooks are not cheap. It’s not uncommon for a single textbook to cost anything from $50 and $100. And when you have to buy textbooks for multiple classes and sometimes multiple textbooks for each class, that bill gets gigantic pretty quick.

This leaves many college students wondering “how in the world can I afford to buy my books?!?” Luckily, you can use your financial aid money to buy books. Read on to find out how to purchase books with money from financial aid and how to save money on all your textbooks.

How Can I Use Financial Aid to Buy My Books?

Your college or university determines the amount of financial aid you will be awarded based on the expected expenses associated with attending their institution. This includes tuition, room and board, food, and school supplies. The amount they award you won’t be enough to fully cover these expenses, but it helps.

Though they’re giving you the money, your college or university isn’t in charge of how you spend that money. You can spend it on any expense directly related to your education. To facilitate this, your college or university will send the amount of your financial aid to you in the form of a check.

You can deposit this check in your account and use the money as you see fit to cover education related expenses, which includes purchasing books.

Some schools provide vouchers to the school bookstore to purchase books, but you are allowed to request a check instead so you can buy textbooks from wherever you want. The only time the school is allowed to only give vouchers is when they can prove the textbooks cannot be bought anywhere except the school bookstore.

How Can I Save Money on Textbooks?

If you’ve checked your school’s bookstore, you’ve probably noticed that the textbooks there are very expensive. This is because they’re usually sold at full retail price. Sometimes you can find a cheaper used book that someone sold back to the bookstore, but often these aren’t in good condition. 

So, most students look elsewhere to find textbooks in good condition for less. Where do they look? Online of course. We’re the generation of online shopping, so it makes perfect sense that we’d shop for textbooks online too.

Online textbook stores and other online stores like Amazon have extensive inventories of books required for college classes. Chances are if the book is required for your class it can be found on one of these sites. Some specialty books for advanced level classes or brand-new printings may not be available, but this is a rare occurrence. 

If you want to make sure you’re finding the best deal possible when buying your textbooks from online stores, can help.

Using the site, search for the title or the ISBN of the textbooks you need. This will bring up search results that show where you can buy the textbook online for the cheapest price. You can click directly on the search results to be redirected to the site where you can buy the text new or used for much less than your campus’s bookstore.

We also show where you can buy the book in all different formats, which can help you save money. You can save money by purchasing a paperback version of the book instead of a hardcover version. Or if you’re comfortable with electronic books, you can save even more money by downloading an electronic textbook. 

Using is sure to save you money because we take all the work out of finding the cheapest textbook prices. And since you received a check for your financial aid money, it’s easy to use that money for online textbook purchases.

Do I Have to Buy All My Textbooks?

Online textbook stores also offer another alternative to textbook purchases that can save you a lot of money. Instead of buying the textbook you can rent it for a specified amount of time. 

When you rent a textbook, you “sign out” the book for a period of time, usually the length of the semester. If you choose to rent a physical textbook, it will be sent to you. It’s your responsibility to send it back when the specified rental period is up. If you don’t send it back on time, you get charged a late fee, like you would for library books.

You can also choose to rent the electronic version of the book. When you do this, you’re given login information to a site where you can access the textbook. During the specified rental period you’ll be able to access the electronic textbook whenever you want. When the rental period is up, you simply won’t be able to access the electronic textbook anymore. 

Many modern students prefer the electronic textbook rental because they don’t have to be responsible for sending anything back. One issue that can arise is if the rental period is over before their need for the textbook is over. But if this happens, they can always rent the textbook again for a shorter period of time.

Renting textbooks is almost always cheaper than purchasing a textbook. And it offers the convenience of not having a bunch of old textbooks lying around your dorm forever. can also help you find the cheapest book rentals. Search for the book you need and our search results will show you the sites with the lowest rental rates. You can click directly on the search results to be redirected to the site where you can rent the textbook.

Making Textbooks Affordable 

Going to college is never cheap, and unfortunately, the costs associated with higher education are only increasing. This leaves many college students freaking out about how they’ll be able to afford everything. 

Fortunately, can help you find the best deals on your textbooks, answering the question, “how can I afford to buy my books?” For more information about finding the cheapest textbooks out there, check out our FAQ page today!

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.