right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Can't afford textbooks and materials

MWM958MWM958 2 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
Hey everyone. I'm a junior in college, and I simply can't afford to buy my textbooks this semester. Even buying them rented and used, I still have to buy a scientific calculator, an online course module thing, and other materials. It all keeps coming out to about 400 to 600 dollars, and I can't freakin get around it. I don't get financial aid, and my parents have so many kids that they have absolutely no money to help me with. I have a job, and I work while going to school full time, with an unpaid internship, and im taking an ungodly amount of loans to go to my SAFETY SCHOOL. I had to spend most of my money I made over break to fix my car because it broke down in the snow, so now I'm at an dead end. I really need these books and materials, and these professors are being so uptight, not giving any leeway, and expect me to have everything by next week.

I'm so done with school, and this country. I've done everything right: worked hard in high school, had a job, and didn't party, and got into the school I wanted to go to, but decided it was too expensive and so went to my safety school where I have to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans just to go, and where I also have a part-time job and rarely go out. Why am I being punished, while my rich friends who don't have to even have a job and get everything handed to them get praised for their "work", and get to go out every weekend, and graduate without debt and so get called "industrious" and "responsible".

I apologize that I'm just ranting, and I'm not really sure if I'm asking for any solutions, or just complaining. I just don't know where I can pull 400 to 600 dollars from in a week. Has anyone gone through this kind of crap?

I'm just so done with this country and it's explicit coddling of the very wealthy. Every other freaking western country has cheap or free education. Even Cuba has free education. I'm done...I'm done.
edited January 2014
23 replies
Post edited by MWM958 on
· Reply · Share

Replies to: Can't afford textbooks and materials

  • Madison85Madison85 10317 replies408 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No one said life was fair

    Why can't you get financial aid?

    It sounds like the school you picked was not a financial safety school. Did you have a financial safety school?

    How many tens of thousands of dollars in loans are you taking out? There are limits per year on what you can take out - how are you avoiding these limits?
    · Reply · Share
  • happymomof1happymomof1 29649 replies174 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Go to the university library, see if they have the books. If so, check them out so you can get your homework dine this week.

    Ask all your pals about the books and the calculator. Chances are that someone has old ones to loan you temporarily.

    Talk to the people you are interning with. Can they pay you something? If not, think seriously about dropping that so you can work a second paying job.

    Pick up the phone. Call your parents. Find out if they can float you a little cash this month.

    Take a deep breath. Tell yourself that things will get better. Because they will eventually.
    · Reply · Share
  • thumper1thumper1 74735 replies3274 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It sounds like you are financially in over your head right now. If Happymom's suggestions don't work, then request a leave of absence from your college. Take some time off to work and save money to return.

    ETA...you have a tough situation from your other threads. You were given some good advice there to minimize your costs. Hopefully, you have done some of these things.

    How much in loans are you taking? Any chance you could get a paid job instead of an unpaid internship?
    · Reply · Share
  • GlamorousGirlGlamorousGirl 173 replies24 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I would talk to a financial aid advisor to make sure you have no options. There may be merit based aid or scholarships you haven't tried yet. As for books, I have found digital versions are cheaper, and digital rentals even less than that, and you can read them on your computer. Do a web search for digital rental and the book you need. If that fails, maybe a classmate can share with you, even if only one teacher allowed it that would help. The calculator I bet you can find used on an online auction site cheap. Good luck - I am struggling with textbooks to so I know what you mean.
    · Reply · Share
  • celesterobertscelesteroberts 2307 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If you prefer paper, the best way to shop is at a site like direct textbook, which sifts prices for the book, new/used/rent at many many sites. Sometimes Amazon has the best deal, and sometimes not. In general, the university bookstore is NOT the best place to buy if you are on a tight budget, unless you have to because a professor has pulled together their own materials into packets to purchase. I have even found the access codes for those online course environments at a small fraction of the university price. Last semester got that for under $10 when U bookstore wanted $70. Just got daughter a mint used textbook for $25 that bookstore was selling new $140/used $110.

    And when you are finished, sell the books back through Amazon to recover much of your money. It's a bit late to shop, as semester is already underway and things may be picked over. Just after semester's end is best time, but you'll still find bargains.

    Sorry things are so tough for you, but try to not fall apart.
    · Reply · Share
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22947 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Have you thought about selling your car and getting a job as an RA at the school? Then you'd only have tuition and books costs, which your loans should pay. Still 'babysitting' but for older guys you can yell at!

    I had all kinds of living situations while in college, but I always lived close to school and did not have a car. I took buses, walked, had jobs close to campus. Take different classes if you can't afford the books. Get a calculator on craigslist, at a pawn shop, from a friend. Find a friend and maybe you can share books (you buy one, he buys a different one, study near each other).

    You have some hard choices to make.
    · Reply · Share
  • momcincomomcinco 1047 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    OP, you are illustrious and responsible. You are doing everything right (so far as we can tell from your posts). Don't quit, don't give up, and don't get so negative that you shut down. If you are a junior you are more than halfway through, and if you are starting spring semester, you're 5/8 ths through. If you've made it this far, why turn back?

    Venting is fine (really) but if you want ideas, I second the other above suggestions besides taking a leave. They may or may not apply to your situation -- only you can know -- but be careful that you are not closing yoruself off from advice from people who can help you. You sound understandably frustrated and hopeless. Try to do things that can clear your mind (a walk? talking with a close friend? something you find relaxing)?

    Even if your parents habitually don't have money for you...call them and tell them you are really worried and need financial help.

    Do you really need your car? Is it for work, or for the unpaid internship? Can you carpool or take a bus or borrow a bike or take a leave from the unpaid internship? If you don't need the car for paid work, sell it.

    The above ideas about books are good, I second all of them. Of course only you can know if it is serious enough to take a leave. Good luck and hang in there!
    · Reply · Share
  • 4kidsdad4kidsdad 4583 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It sounds like the school you picked was not a financial safety school.
    OP posted the following in last March:
    I will need a $75K salary to pay off my loans...
    for a BACHELORS. from my SAFETY SCHOOL.
    and he wants to be a teacher.
    · Reply · Share
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84090 replies1024 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    and im taking an ungodly amount of loans to go to my SAFETY SCHOOL.

    Sorry, but you arent' attending a safety school. A safety school is AFFORDABLE. Sounds like you didn't apply to a safety school.

    You need to leave that school.....what state school can you commute to?

    Oh my....just saw the last post..... YOU ARE BORROWING that much to be a TEACHER???? Who the heck advised you? What crazy person co-signed your loans???

    How much do you think you'll be earning when you graduate?
    · Reply · Share
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84090 replies1024 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    Sorry, but you did not do "everything right." I know that's harsh, but you didn't.

    You chose to attend a school that you couldn't afford and some person co-signed those loans (that person deserves to get stuck paying back those loans). That person also didn't do "everything right". They set you up for a dreadful situation.

    You could have gone to a CC for your first two years. Since you say that you got into better schools but couldn't afford them, then that suggests that you could have applied to schools that would have given you large merit for your stats..

    I know that this is all water under the bridge, but I'm telling you this so that you wont' think that you were just "unlucky" and this was all unavoidable. That kind of thinking just leads to believing that you're a victim when in truth, you (and that co-signer) brought this all upon yourself.

    I'm sorry for the harshness. You were poorly advised and you made a poor decision. Right now, all you can do is ask your parents for the money. You can't even take this semester off because then you'd have to start paying back those CRAZY loans.

    As a last resort, maybe you could go to a CC this semester to prevent loan repayment while you apply to a local univ to finish your education.

    with an unpaid internship

    forget that right now. You need more paid employment.
    · Reply · Share
  • onthecollegehuntonthecollegehunt 36 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm so sorry you're going through this. It stinks to have less money than all your friends and most of the people around you. I know, I've lived it. That's one of the reasons I knew I would never thrust student loan payments on my kids. But don't let yourself become a victim. Our country may not have free tuition - those countries that do only offer it to the very best and brightest students - but we do have affordable higher education that is accessible to all. The affordable path (community college followed by a local state school), may not be the most prestigious, in fact it rarely is, but if you want to be a teacher, it probably would have been the best path for you.

    First, let's figure out what the positives are in your situation - you've got a strong, stable family who is willing to give you free room and board. Do they also pay for your cell phone? I'm assuming your non school related expenses are limited to gas and car insurance. OK, those things aren't cheap, but during the school year they are paid for with your part time job. So, it's pretty clear that what you need to do once your car is covered is to lower your expenses and raise your income.

    First, figure out how much money it would save you if you transferred to Montclair or Kean (if you're commuting to Seton Hall, one of those should be doable for you). Those schools will cost you right around $10k per year. Every thousand that Seton Hall is over that you should look at as money out of your current or future pockets. Figure out exactly how much state school saves you. Then, try to earn some more money. You want to be a teacher - how about tutoring? That's some quick cash and you've got a built in client base - your younger siblings' classmates. Even if time prohibits you from earning more money during the school year, you certainly can raise the amount you're earning each summer.

    Finally, you don't mention how old your siblings are, but unless they're very young, my guess is your mom just likes somebody in the house, and is not so concerned about you interacting with the kids. I'll often leave my three younger kids in the house (ages 6 to 10) if there's a teen sleeping/doing homework somewhere upstairs. In other words, it's something the teens would be doing anyway. Still, I know being around younger kids and their noise and squabbles can get tiresome. Is there another sibling aging up to babysitting soon? If so, you should try to work out a schedule. Maybe you can be available a couple of evenings, and your sibling could be available other evenings. And then get yourself involved in school. Stay at the library and study. Go to some school sponsored functions. Do some activities that have been organized specifically for commuters.

    You can do this. And you'll be a better man for it.
    · Reply · Share
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives 3172 replies43 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    One more idea: Contact your professors and ask if they have an earlier edition of the current text book. I've been known to lend mine to students if I have someone who is really in a bind.
    · Reply · Share
  • WasatchWriterWasatchWriter 2432 replies96 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^^^ this. Or maybe buy an older edition. The differences are often quite small, and the cost of a used older edition can be ridiculously small. Even if the professor doesn't recommend it, students who have already taken the class might have different advice.
    · Reply · Share
  • oldmom4896oldmom4896 3887 replies289 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    OP, sorry for your troubles. I know what it's like to be on the financial edge. Not fun!

    I think it's possible that the financial aid office at your school may have a fund for emergencies. And yes, talk to your teachers, and yes, talk to your parents. Best of luck.
    · Reply · Share
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29411 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I don't think you are going to like what I have to say. I am sorry that you are in this situation. However, I think a good deal of your problems is due to the fact that you are not facing the reality of them. You are going to a school you cannot afford, is the bottom line. When you do that, it is inevitable that you will run into money problems.

    First of all, about the rant you have about this country. Having grown up in Europe and having SILs and other family members from other countries since I am first generation American on half of the family tree and 2nd on the other, it's no panacea there either. Unless you make the cut for continuing to college, you don't get the option. There are not the many choices of private schools and community college/public local colleges that we have here. And you would have to pay for private school there which is no cheaper. I looked up a private school I wanted to attend when I was overseas, and it's as pricey as any here in the US.

    Clearly you did not get a merit scholarship or financial aid package to cover your college costs. So either you did not apply to schools that might have given you those things, or you are not the caliber student to get them. My son , now in college, got below average test scores, but had very good grades. He got a full tuition scholarship offer from a local private school. So he could have gone there for just the commuting costs. He also could have gone to community college for a few thousand dollars, which could have been covered by Direct Student Loans easily or he could have gone to some local state schools which would have cost him most of his Direct Student Loans. If he lived at home with us, a part time job during the year with not too many hours, and working over the sumer whould have covered his commuting costs comfortably, he could have afforded to pay for his books, and he would also have pocket money to socialize. He did not take those choices, because he so wanted to go away to school, but now older and wiser, he see a lot of kids, many from high income families who took those options and they are living high on the hog, happy, are getting degrees leading into some great job prospects and they have been socializing and hanging out even though they are commuters. He is on the edge financially, knows few kids at his school since they are not from this area--met nearly all of them just since he started there and he's kind of the odd guy out when he comes home too. So there are advantages to going to a local school once you get over the "no one is doing this" which is so untrue.

    The fact of the matter is that in this country, the average college student is NOT living on campus, is NOT going to school full time, and is working and earning his wayt through PART TIME. You are stuck on a myth about how college is done that simply is not true. Not all parents, few parents, pay for most of their kids' college. Most people are too strapped to do so, did not prepare and save to do so, the recent recession has kicked financial situation and prospects. No money for college.

    So if you are not going to a local state school, but are struggling to pay for a private college, you are paying far more than you have to, unless said college is giving you enough money so it's as good of a price as your state options. It does not get better most of the time. The costs go up, and you'll be expected to borrow more.

    My advice to you is to take a deep breath and look at the cost of this college in terms of what you will have to borrow and what your gap has been even with the borrowing. Look at other options. You've had , what?, a year here so far? Is this your first or second year at this school. Get out while you can have the slight chance of graduating in two more years from a state school where you can afford the tuition.

    In your case, you might want to drop your courses and take a leave of absence from this school for the term, and look for a job. Do it before you are adversely charged for the courses and the loans/aid you have. Look at other options, state school that you can afford. Save some of your earnings so that you have some buffer for things like car breakdowns, failed root canals, lost books, expensive supplies, computers, phones, etc. If you can afford to go full time and get your degree from a state school, then borrow the $7500 a year you will be permitted to borrow for the last two years and go at it. Otherwise part time might be the way to go. Find a job at Staples, Gap, fast food whatever to start earning some money. Spend your time at work or at a school library studying. No eating out unless you work where it is comped. Buy a loaf of bread and a jar of Peanut butter or the like for lunch and scrounge for leftovers from home. That your parents give you home access is worth about $7-15K a year in costs, so enjoy it. When you get your degree and find a self subsisting job, you can then move out.

    You should look at school programs and majors with an eye to job opportunities and salaires. You do not have the luxury of majoring in something that isn't going to pan out in terms of employment since you want to be independent,you have loans to repay and your parents can't help you out,

    There are many kids right on my street that went to wonderful dream schools who are now back home with parents which can be its own hell on earth after being away and living as they pleased for 4 years. Parents not used to having them around either, and there is the stench of disappointment when after all that money invested, all those hopes and expectations, the kids are not panning out with big wages and independence. You are getting a taste of this early. It's worse when you ferment this for four more years or more and throw in even more money, believe me.

    So get yourself a job, and start lookng at how you can stand on your own two feet. Look at education as a means to that. Otherwise you are going to be hurting for a long time over unrealistic expectations and reality that you have just failed to accept.
    · Reply · Share
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29411 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    As for textbooks, one of my spoiled, paid for kids at a private school borrowed all of his from the libarary, or colluded with classmates to have copies made of loose paper packs so that his book cost over all 4 years was that of one semester of his brother's who preferred to go the used, but bookstore route. You can cut book costs by planning ahead, way ahead, as to what courses to take, what books you need, ordering them from the public library or finding a student taking the course the semester before and asking to borrow his book for the next term. You gotta have network, be light on your feet, use your brains. If you are not so intrepid, yes, you will be charged full dollar. You need to find those in your area going near, by, or to your school so that if your car doesn't start, you have some options. These are skills that will take you far for the rest of your life.

    Example: son and friend went into NYC and enjoyed a day there for $10 apiece. To do so they needed to find rides into the city and back, plan the day., find the freebies. It can be done with planning and resourcefulness, and networking,not bellyaching.
    · Reply · Share
  • baktraxbaktrax 2561 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Ranting and venting is fine, but there are always possibilities. Life is hard, yes, and it's unfair, but you can't always assume that everyone else has it so much easier than you do. Other people work hard to save money on textbooks and on school, and there are many people who's make too much for financial aid but are still unable and unwilling to help their kids with school. Keep figuring out ways to minimize costs, including ways to bring down rent or other costs, and while it might not help you right now, it'll help you in the future to have some savings to pull from when you're strapped for cash.

    First, there's the immediate problem of getting the books. Does your library rent out textbooks? Some schools rent out copies of textbooks for a couple hours of a time, and that might be a fantastic option for you. Could you use older copies of the textbooks? University libraries often have older copies of textbooks that you can borrow. Other students may have already checked them out by now, but it doesn't hurt to check. Older editions also sell for much cheaper, if you want to buy them, but it sounds like every dollar counts so try to borrow them if you can. Also, check if your library lets you borrow books from other associated libraries and check them for copies as well (sometimes public libraries will allow you to do this from university libraries as well).

    I'm assuming you need these books immediately because there's homework from the textbook that's due. Is there someone in your class who would let you borrow the textbook? You could make photocopies of the pages you need so that you only need to borrow it for a couple of minutes. If you don't have friends in your classes, make some ASAP. Have any of your friends taken this class before? They may be able to let you borrow their copy of the textbook. Also, check to see if there's a facebook group for buying and selling books at your school. Someone may be willing to sell it for cheaper than you can get it on Amazon or through another seller, or perhaps, you could arrange to rent it from them for a cheaper price. Do you have a professor (or TA) that would be willing to lend you the copy of their textbook (they probably have a copy) so that you make photocopies of the pages you need? If you don't have a copier or can't pay to copy the pages, see if you can scan them at your library. If you explain your situation, they may be able to let you make copies of the pages you need for the first week or two until you can get your hands on the books. If you're professors are unwilling to help, then maybe one of the TAs (who typically have access to the textbooks) will be willing to help you.

    Scientific calculators are fairly inexpensive. Find the cheapest one you can, and get it. You don't have to get it new--see if you can buy a used one or if you can find a sale. It'll last you at least until you graduate. If you still can't afford it, see if a friend or roommate will let you borrow theirs (especially if you only need it during exams). I lent my scientific calculator to my roommate all the time, and it was no big deal. See if your library checks out scientific calculators to students.

    The online access code will be harder to get, but see if your parents or a good friend would be willing to lend you the money for it and let you pay them back later. I've lent money to a friend so they could make rent. It's a tough spot to be in, but if you have a good friend who has the money, they may be willing to help you out. Just make sure you pay them back. Your parents also may be able to spot you some money now, if you can pay them back later, even if they can't afford to pay your tuition.

    Is there anything you can sell to help come up with some quick cash? Maybe old textbooks, games, etc. Anything you have that you don't need. It sucks, but if you need the money, you need the money.

    Then, for future costs, consider ways to bring down other costs so that you can afford to buy books (I'm assuming you know all the tricks for bringing textbook costs down). Do you live off campus? Could you get another roommate or two to bring the cost of rent down? Could you cook and eat at home more often to bring the cost of food down? How necessary is your car? Car's are extremely expensive, and if there's any possibility of you getting around via public transportation/bumming rides/bike, then sell the car.

    Drop the unpaid internship, ASAP, and getting a paying job. It may be great experience, but if you need the money, then you need the money. Or get more hours at your current job, or ask your unpaid internship if they would be willing to start paying you. Someone said earlier that you want to be a teacher. Could you get some extra money tutoring? Does your school hire undergraduate TA's? Could you babysit? Those may be ways to get some extra money, and they tend to pay more per hour than other jobs. They're things that are often relatively easy to work around a school schedule, and every little bit adds up. Could you be an RA and get your housing covered? Are there any scholarships you could get?
    · Reply · Share
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29411 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The fact of the matter, is that unless you are in the very upper echelons of wealth, there are always those who have it easier than you in most everything you do. Yeah, it hurts and it's unfair. but there are those who are likely even worst off in the same endeavor. Changing the pool in which you are can make a big difference. If you are at a school with tuition that is $X, and there are schools that cost far less than that where you can get a degree, you should transfer if money is a huge problem. You cannot afford unpaid internships. My kids who could have afforded them did not take any, and worked instead because they needed the money immediately for things even more. You have to balance these things out. You need to focus on how to spend less, and get more money. You are not at the bottom of the barrel, so there are a lot of things you can do.
    · Reply · Share
  • 4kidsdad4kidsdad 4583 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Scientific calculators are fairly inexpensive. Find the cheapest one you can, and get it.
    You could buy the scientific calculator for $1 in many dollar stores.
    · Reply · Share
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22947 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The fact of the matter, is that unless you are in the very upper echelons of wealth, there are always those who have it easier than you in most everything you do.<<<

    I always think of Rose Kennedy when I think others may have it better than me. She appeared to have it all, but lost one son in war, two to assinations, one daughter to an accident, and one to mental illness, plus a number of grandchildren to accidents, illness, drugs. I think she would have given up her wealth to have her family.

    Everyone has to play the cards they are dealt.
    · Reply · Share
This discussion has been closed.

Recent Activity