Attention College Students – How to Make Money While at School

I know what it is like being a college student. It takes a lot of dedication to devote time to studies and because of that, not a lot of time to have a job. It’s a good wake up call to life by juggling many responsibilities and being on your own. So other than work, how else can college students make money at school? Here is an idea…sell your books!

Inspired by Nut @ The Writer’s Coin, I want to share how you can make some good cash by selling used college textbooks.  The university I attended had book rentals for college courses.  While it may seem like we were lucky for not having to pay for books, it was already built into tuition.  There still were books that needed to be purchased, but no where near what my wife had to pay each semester ($500+!!) at her university.

It was very often that the college bookstore would take the old edition textbooks that were no longer used in classes and sell them to students.  I can assure you, not many college students were running to get their hands on those big, thick Law books.  Because the university got their use out of them, and money out of you, they were surprisingly willing to part with the books for cheap. $1 per textbook or fill a paper bag for $10.  Some I kept, but most I sold.

One day, I scanned the textbooks and hopped on eBay to find out how much there going to by searching the ISBN.  I was shocked!  They were going for over a hundred dollars a piece on eBay! I soon realized that just because our university upgraded to the next edition, many other schools didn’t. The best part yet, even selling the books for, say $100, the buyer is getting a great deal. I found out after talking to the buyers that some textbooks would have cost them $170-$200 new!  A win, win for all!

I was able to make a decent amount of money off this process.  As time went on, it was obvious others had the same idea as the more profitable books became few and far between .  My last year at college, I started to see a group on campus who were looking to purchase old textbooks from students.  Was this the end?  Is it the end? I’m several years removed from college so I’m curious to find out if colleges still resell their books to their students.

So a few tips:

1. Avoid selling your books back to the bookstore or another group until you look at the value on eBay or their affiliate (or other market sites).  You probably can get twice as much online if you are willing to take the time and effort to list and ship them.

2. When you resell your books, be sure to wait until the start of the semester when students are actually looking!  All too often I see books flood on eBay when the semester is over.  While there are summer courses, your best bet is to wait until Fall or Spring semesters when demand is higher.

3. Just like selling books, buying books online can save you some much needed dough.  See if you can get a syllabus in advance to start your search for needed textbooks.

So check out your university bookstore today.  Do they sell used books? Are they worth more to other students around the country? While a bit more difficult, the same criteria applies to thrift stores and garage sales.

I guess you can chalk up another ‘side hustle’ option for college students.

Stupidly Yours,


Written by Matt

StupidCents was founded by Matt in 2009. His thoughts are shaped by his family and career and seasoned by his endless motivation to succeed personally, professionally, and financially.

6 Responses to Attention College Students – How to Make Money While at School

  1. Well, it’s more of a way to “reclaim” money than to make it, but still – totally worth doing! Someone at my school actually set up a website for textbook exchange (that’s for our college only). It works really well, because you can list all of your books that you want to sell, and then people search for the books they need. They get to buy a used book for cheaper than the bookstore’s used price, and you get to sell your book for much more than what the bookstore wants to give you. Everyone but the bookstore wins!

    There are also national places to do this, although any site works best when it has a lot of users from YOUR school. is the one I can think of off the top of my head. used to do it too, but now they do textbook rentals instead (which is also a good idea – I do that fairly often for liberal arts classes where I know I won’t want to keep the book).

  2. @ Stephanie

    You’re right about the reclaim your own books part, but I was also explaining a way for everyone to look at used books to see if there is a higher marketplace elsewhere. It’s possible the bookstore’s price is quite low compared to a university across the country.

    Thanks for the information about those services. Any relief a college student can get is great, especially when it comes to materials for classes.

    Thanks for visiting!

    Stupidly Yours,


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  4. Hello,


    Thanks for sharing such an informative article! I am a dental student in India and I often face the problem of spending lots of money on my dental books. I tried to find them on the famous websites online “books buying and selling websites” but was not successful to save money. I would like to know how can I save money while buying my dental books. . Please let me know. Thanks!

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