Received a question from a young lady concerned about purchasing her textbooks. She, like many students, has added additional money to her student loans to cover the costs of her textbooks. The only problem is that student loan money usually doesn’t disperse to student’s accounts until after the semester begins . This student probably won’t have access to her textbook money until a couple weeks into the semester. She considered buying her books from the bookstore and returning them, to repurchase them online at a cheaper rate once her refund money comes in. She asked my opinion on her game plan.
I think her game plan is really risky and not at all cost efficient. Campus bookstore return policies are typically tied to the add/drop period. You may not be able to return your books at full price depending on when you attempt to return them. Also with returning and shipping costs, the savings of buying online won’t even be worth it. Secondly, you’ll be without text books for an extended period of time and you don’t want to take a gamble like that your first semester. Most professors begin class on the first day. You will likely have reading and/or homework assignments due the first week of classes. It’s best to have your books up front.
My advice is to first check with your student accounts office and bookstore and see what options are available to students in this situation. Many students pad their student loans for textbooks, so this problem is not uncommon. Many schools have policies in place to help students around this issue when it arises. For example, several colleges/universities allow students to purchase their books in the campus bookstore and have the bill charged to their overall student account. This way when loan money is dispersed, it is applied to your total student bill, textbooks included. Other schools have book voucher systems in place, where students are issued book vouchers based on their student loans, to be used to purchase their books at the campus bookstore.
If these options are not available to you, I would encourage students to purchase their books from using money from their savings account or a credit card. When you receive your refund check you can then replace that money . Also, this is a great time to make use of your summer job and/or graduation gift money. The moral of the story is , do you what you have to do to make sure you have your textbooks upfront. Investing to ensure that you have your books early is usually more cost effective than waiting around until the last minute. Be prepared for your semester. It’s one of the first steps absolutely necessary in starting the academic year off right!
I hope this helps.