Financial Aid and Textbooks

<p>I am enrolling into USF this Fall and I have a quick question about financial aid. I am new to receiving financial aid so I am just curious how this works. I will be receiving about $3600 a semester. It is going to cost roughly $2200 a semester for tuition. Will the financial aid cut a check to the school for the cost of tuition and then the school will cut me a check for whats left over? I would really prefer to use some of that financial aid money to save money on textbooks by buying on eBay/Amazon/Half etc. Is this possible or am I going to have to buy the books from the bookstore?</p>

<p>Thanks for any help!</p>

<p>Your plan is not only possible, it's also very common among students at colleges all over the country! </p>

<p>You're right; the difference between your billable costs (basically any thing that the college charges a fixed rate for, like tuition, room, and board, and any fees that they might tack on) is subtracted from your financial aid award (grants, loans, but NOT work-study). The result goes back to you in the form of a check, enabling you to spend that on any other expenses you have related to college (such as books, transportation, other supplies). Most people who know what's what stay away from the college bookstore and get their books cheaper from pretty much anywhere else as much as possible.</p>

<p>Garda's right but you may not receive your refund until after classes start - schools generally don't issue them earlier than about 10 days before classes but some are a few weeks after the semester begins. Check your school's website and have a plan B for buying books earlier. Also, check the bookstore's website to see if they rent any of the books you need as many are offering that option now.</p>

<p>I have a quick question Gardna.</p>

<p>You mentioned room/board. I have my financial aid set up as I will not be living with parents. It didn't have an option about apartment/dorm. I plan on staying in an apartment. The financial aid is not going to be put towards room/board for a dorm is it? I hope I didn't screw myself over because I do not plan on living in a dorm.</p>

<p>EDIT: I just checked my FAFSA form that I filled out months back and it does show that I chose Off-Campus. So I should be ok, correct?</p>

<p>Thanks for your help guys! This is great that I don't need to waste all that money by going to the bookstore.</p>

<p>There are a lot of great textbook deals on the internet. Unfortunately, people who rely on financial aid are not likely to get them. Some colleges offer book vouchers for textbooks, but they can only be used in the bookstore. How it works will depend on the school.</p>

<p>Yes you should be fine as your FAFSA said off campus.</p>

<p>It is definitely better to buy books elsewhere other than school bookstores. We have had great success with amazon market, half.com, eba, and textbooks.com. We have only ever had one problem with a used book not arriving from the seller and had to file a claim with half.com who refunded the money and went after the seller. </p>

<p>So far I have found that the rental prices for books are not really that good when you take into account that you can often resell books that you purchase.</p>

<p>Two things you may find helpful. Textbooks.com offers a guaranteed buyback on some (not all) of their books. I have found it useful as I have not wanted to deal with selling them myself online individually. Amazon now also has a textbook buy back program - generally their buyback prices seem to be a little higher than textbooks.com but, as far as I can tell, they offer an Amazon giftcard rather than cash. I have not checked if the giftcard can be used to buy used books at Amazon.</p>

<p>The only issue you may have is the timing of the refund. The schools I am familiar with don't refund the excess financial aid money until after class has started (this will vary by school, my daughter's school it is about 2 1/2 weeks into class, my son's was 5-6 weeks) so you may need your own money saved to buy books.</p>