New Law Helps Lower Student Textbook Costs, Slightly Lessen Loan Debt
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New Law Helps Lower Student Textbook Costs

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College students often accrue astounding amounts of debt. In the form of massive student loans, credit card debt and depleted bank accounts, this debt can lead to shaky finances in their adult lives, which sometimes results in personal bankruptcy. A primary contributor to student debt is the bloated cost of textbooks.

In an effort to address this issue, a new law aims to reduce the inflated costs associated with textbooks. The recently passed Higher Education Opportunity Act requires that colleges give students a list of required textbooks when the student registers for a class, USA Today reports.

In addition, sources indicate that the textbook publishers are required to provide information about edition revisions and prices to students.

How the New Law Reduces Student Debts

In theory, by providing students with detailed textbook lists before the semester starts, students will have more time to seek better book deals than those offered in college bookstores. Popular alternatives to purchasing books at college bookstores include:

  • Renting: Many college bookstores and online vendors now offer cheaper rental programs. These are advantageous for students taking classes outside their major who wish to use their books for only one semester.
  • Shoping online: There are a wide variety of online textbook distributors who sell books at lower prices than college bookstores. Of course, the disadvantage to online shopping is that return policies are often different and, in some cases, unfair.
  • Library reservations: For students on a really tight budget, the college library may have updated editions of some textbooks on reserve. You may not be able to take them out of the library, nor can you mark in them. However, you may be able to copy certain portions of the book or use them - for free - in the building.

In addition to allowing students more time to seek alternatives, proponents of the law believe it will also persuade professors to pay more attention to the cost of books when they assign them.

Trade Your Old Books for New Credit

Some savvy students have taken to trading in their used books for store credit to buy materials for the next semester. Book sellers have taken notice of this trend. However, in the pre-Internet days students counting on buy-back cash often found university bookstores stingy in what they bought back and how much they paid.

As big online booksellers get into the game, students may now shop around to get the most return when selling their books back.

Amazon.com recently launched a buy-back program, which lets former customers trade in their used books for an Amazon discount card. Not to be outdone, Borders, one of Amazon’s rivals in the book market, started an online marketplace that allows students to buy or sell textbooks with other students.

As new marketplaces offer students opportunities can exchange books among themselves, textbook prices may soon drop, and student debt loads could be cut substantially.

Typically, student debt cannot be discharged through a personal bankruptcy proceeding. However, you may be able to reorganize other forms of debt, leaving you some breathing space to pay back your school.


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