So, it’s September. We convocated wildly, shopped classes and (hopefully) figured out our schedules, and are now slowly easing back into the school year routine, which includes being ready for dinner at 5:30 sharp.

Although exciting, this time of year can be extremely stressful for students trying to manage school costs. Buying school supplies and books can be insanely expensive and a real issue for students with limited incomes. Thankfully, the government recently put into effect HR 4137– the Higher Education Opportunity Act– which helps students cut textbook costs dramatically.

In short, the law states that faculty have to post required course textbooks before the first day of classes, preferably around registration time. Although this is probably frustrating for them, it enables students to shop around and find the best deals for textbooks, instead of relying on the campus bookstore or buying online after getting the syllabus and getting your books three weeks into the semester. Information for Smith specifically is found on the online course catalog. Each course listing has a link to the textbook information.

The act also requires textbook publishers to disclose how much their books cost to professors deciding which books to use for a course. This could result in conscientious faculty choosing more affordable books for classes. Additionally, ‘bundled’ books, or books that come with CDs or other additional materials, are now being sold separately. This cuts prices as you won’t have to buy unnecessary extras.

Some good online sources to use for buying texts include half.com, or bookfinder.com, which does a price comparison from various sources.

Not all of us have internet access or a credit card to buy our books online, but there are more options for students who depend on the campus bookstore for their materials. Smith changed bookstore providers when their contract with Effollett ended in June. The Grecourt Bookstore is now run by Validis and should be providing more used books, rental, and digital textbook options, according to the September 9th article in The Sophian.

Students should also know that there is textbook funding available, which can be found at the class dean’s website, or by clicking here.

A low-cost place to find school supplies would be Acme Surplus, located in Thornes Market in Downtown Northampton. Spiral-bound notebooks run about $1.

Other ways to save money include reusing half-filled notebooks (and it’s green!), asking friends/housemates for their books from past semesters, or going halfsies with a classmate and sharing the books. Also, most professors put required texts on reserve at the library, should you choose not to buy them at all.

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