The long list of student fees tacked on to most college tuition bills is enough to make any student scream. When I was enrolled at The University of Montana, it seemed like fees were being added or increased every single semester, and I will be the first to admit that half of the time, I didn’t even know what I was paying for.

Even more shocking, though, was the amount of money I still had to spend even after my semester bill had been paid.

If you’re a college student, you’re probably all-too-familiar with the immense feeling of dread associated with making that biannual trek to the campus bookstore to load up on “required course materials.” I always tried to put it off as long I could, thinking I would just borrow books from classmates or go to the library to use the reserve copy (yeah, like that was ever going to happen).

In the end, I always ended up caving and forking over the money to buy my own books.

But, according to a recent study, students are spending less and less on textbooks as alternative methods of acquiring course materials become more popular.

More students are buying from online vendors such as, and with the advent of devices such as the iPad and the Kindle, the purchase of electronic textbooks is becoming more common.

The option that really piqued my interest, however, is renting. I don’t even know if online rental outlets existed when I was in school, but if I had known about them, I definitely would have used them. Books that cost hundreds of dollars in stores can be rented from sources such as for a fraction of that price — like, $20 for an entire semester.

With savings like that, you might be able to afford to eat something other than Top Ramen — well, maybe for a night or two.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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