Be Smart Buying Textbooks at the College Bookstore

StudyingProfessors usually post required course material information a few weeks before classes begin (or maybe even during the first week of classes) and this leaves college students scrambling to get a textbook for the best price. If they find out the required textbook the first week of class, chances are they will need to purchase the book immediately from the bookstore. They will not be able to wait while a cheaper version is shipped to them.

However, under new federal law, colleges must post required textbook information sooner. Beginning July 1, 2010, The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires that universities post the ISBN number and textbook price when students register for a course. Institutions of higher learning that are receiving federal financial aid must provide students with textbook information during registration and when searching for classes.

Therefore, when students are searching for their classes, the university must also provide a listing of required textbooks, recommended textbooks, and supplemental material. They must give the student as much available information including an ISBN number, author’s name, title, publishing company, and edition number. Although not necessarily required, they may also provide enrollment information, including the number of students currently enrolled and the number of open seats left.

Universities must also provide their affiliated bookstores with this information as soon as possible to allow for competitive pricing. They must also provide them with a list of required and recommended textbooks, as well as an expected number for enrollment.

This amendment of the Higher Education Act of 1965 is intended to allow students enough time to research and find textbooks available at reasonable prices. Several universities and colleges across the nation have already began implementing this new law into their upcoming schedule. This will force professors, bookstores, and registrar offices to work together to maintain an accurate record of required textbooks, as well as listing prices, on their online class schedules.

While this new law is allowing students ample time to find cheaper versions of their textbooks, it is putting the pressure on college professors. Often times, they do not necessarily know what textbooks will be used until a month or so before the semester starts. However, now, professors will be responsible for choosing their curriculum and required textbooks months in advance. This also poses a problem when textbook versions change or go out of print without warning. Some professors also worry that students will begin choosing classes based on the required textbooks. They may avoid a class that has a $200 textbook to save money.

Many fear that struggling bookstores will be greatly affected by this new law. The bookstore will need to make great chances in order to compete with online websites such as Amazon.

Although HEOA does has its drawbacks for professors and bookstores, students will definitely benefit from advanced postings. They will purchase a used textbook online months in advance and know it will arrive way before classes start. The HEOA may hurt the bookstore’s sales and put pressure on the professors, but it will definitely help poor college kids.


  1. Becca Holton says

    Hannah, this was interesting. I wasn’t aware that there had been changes to the law concerning textbook information. I figure that a way to save money on textbooks is beware and research all your options.

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