Students turn the page on expensive textbooks

College is not cheap; in addition to tuition, room and board and personal expenses, purchasing textbooks cuts into students’ bills every semester.

According to The College Board, a full-time undergraduate student typically spends more than $1,200 each year on school textbooks and supplies.

Readily available yet expensive textbooks at the Seton Hall Bookstore has proven to be an unattractive selling point as 24 of 30 surveyed SHU students admit to resorting to online textbook sites to make cheaper textbook purchases.

In response to the high costs of textbooks, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act to provide higher education students and professors with free access to open textbooks. In an article in USA Today, Durbin explained that the bill would make textbooks “available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers and others to freely access the material.” This proposed act is part of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that regulates student financial aid programs.

Some Seton Hall students, majoring in science, business and foreign language who are obligated to purchase full priced textbooks for certain classes support this proposed legislation.

Michelle Prizzi, sophomore French minor said, “Some foreign language books are only bought at full price because of the (required) access code,” and can cost as much as $200.

However, more websites are being introduced that make it possible for students to rent or buy used books at cheaper prices.

Philip Lopes, junior finance major, said that “during freshmen year, I spent nearly $500 on textbooks. Nowadays, I spend less than $100.”

Lopes found useful alternatives online to purchase expensive textbooks. He said his Managerial Accounting textbook, which costs more than $370 in the bookstore, was offered as a rental online for $50. Similarly, Surabi Janardhan, sophomore Biology-Physician Assistant major, found a PDF format of a full priced $500 genetics textbook for $50.

Due to the alternative options for purchasing books, fewer students seem to be renting or purchasing textbooks from the Seton Hall bookstore, according to a Setonian survey of 30 random students.

Only two out of 30 students surveyed responded that they get their textbooks from the University bookstore. 24 out of 30 students said they rent from online textbook rental companies, such as Chegg, Amazon, ValoreBooks, AbeBooks, and Barnes & Nobles.

Three of the 30 surveyed students admitted to navigating sites, such as and, to compare all the prices of the textbooks offered from different companies online.

Caitlynn Guinto, junior occupational therapy major, said that students can be creative in buying cheaper textbooks if they can find other students that have already taken the course who may still own and want to sell the textbook. Guinto also said buying older editions of the textbooks can be much cheaper, but students risk not having some of the required sections of the book that may be included in newer editions.

Diana Kim can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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