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Jan 7, 2013 7:39 PM by Erika Flores

Textbook prices increasing at higher rate than tuition

TUCSON - Students at the University of Arizona are gearing up for their first day back and buying books for their Spring semester, but high prices are forcing many to wait to buy.

It's something that every student needs, but at what price?

According to the American Enterprise Institute, textbook prices have increased at a faster rate than tuition.

Sticker shock is getting students to put off buying their textbooks until they start classes. College Board said the average student at a public four year college should expect to spend over one thousand dollars a year on textbooks and course materials.

David Kijewski spent 80 dollars on just one textbook. "I want to wait on my physics books because each one of those is over 200 dollars and I have to buy three of them," said Kijewski. He said he'll wait for class to start just to make sure those pricey books are required. "It makes it harder and harder for a student to get an education, we're already paying a substantial amount for tuition as it is and adding in book prices," said Kijewski.

Hope Miller said what gets her are the new editions publishers put out. "They would come out with a new textbook every year, so you'd have to buy the new one," said Miller.

There are several options at the University of Arizona. Buying used saves on average 25 percent, renting a book saves 30 percent. The university even has a cost comparison on their website.

"Take the time to look around and see what the best price is and be proactive about talking to their instructors about those concerns," said Chris Shafer with UA faculty relations.

You can do the digging on your own and find plenty of online sites that offer discounts as well.

Here are some suggestions from the National Association of College Stores:

1) Buy used books whenever possible. College stores strive to provide as many used textbooks as possible, but they can sell out quickly. Shop the store early or buy directly from your college store's web site to take advantage of used-book sales.

2) Consider renting or purchasing electronic texts. Almost all college stores offer these options, and rentals can give cost-conscious students temporary access to course materials for about one-third to half the price of buying a new text.

3) Become a fan of your campus bookstore's Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Stores often will give advance notice of moneysaving specials to followers or fans.

4) Be cautious of hackers, spammers and phishers when purchasing course materials online from outside/unknown sources. Items might not arrive on time, be incorrect, or not include required access codes. Also, don't forget to consider shipping expenses in the total cost of the textbook. To avoid delays, check your college store's web site for ordering convenience and peace of mind. Your local college store guarantees the correct title and edition chosen by your instructor.

5) Know your store's refund policy, especially deadlines. This way, you won't be disappointed if you drop a class.

6) Keep receipts. Most stores require them for returns. Also, textbook receipts are helpful during tax season when filing for the American Opportunity Tax Credit. For details on what to do and how to apply for the credit, go to www.textbookaid.org.

7) Don't write in or unwrap books until you're certain you'll be keeping them. Most sellers won't offer full credit for books that have been marked or bundles that have been opened.

8) If you have a choice between buying a textbook by itself, or packaged with a study guide or software, make sure you need both parts.

9) When buying locally, consider paying cash or by debit card to avoid credit card fees and interest. But use a credit card when buying from online sellers in case disputes arise.

10) If you have questions, ask! Your college store professional is the course material expert, dedicated to helping you obtain all of the educational tools you need for academic success in the format you desire.

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