Being an apprentice at theGuild is a really great experience for me, and I'm truly thankful that they've agreed to take me on. But the cost of materials can be super high -- I eat ramen and tuna for weeks after visiting the storerooms.
But a buddy of mine attends Modernus Universitas, and told me the benefits today's scholar has over an apprentice of ancient Rome:
1. Information Management. I know, in your mind, you're like...wha?
But do this. Take a look at the back of your textbook, and find where the price is located. Try not to vomit at the cost of this book -- instead, focus on the 10 to 13 digit number sequence right above the barcode. This is the ISBN number, and it is your key to unlocking the power of:
2. The internet. Yep, the internet. Ancient Guilds didn't use the internet: if we wanted to send messages to each other, we had to run 26 miles and have a heart attack at the feet of the Senate. Luckily, students today live in a digital age.
So what to do? You plug in your ISBN into Google and see what comes up. There are tons of places where people are selling their old books for way less than the college bookstore. In some places (like Amazon), it'll even be a new book, at a lower price. There may even be hits for the international version of a book: same content, different cover, and these tend to be a lot cheaper.
Another place is from students who have taken the class before, and who want to sell their books. This is what we do at the Guild -- scrollwork is notoriously hard to find online. This requires a little more coordination to find someone more advanced in your field who is willing to sell, but it's cheaper.
One thing: getting the right books at the right price requires a little bit of planning. You don't want to buy a text and find out that you won't be using it. So a well-timed email (or a really fast runner) to your instructor can be a good way to find out what you'll really need for the class.
Final note: sometimes the best place to get your materials is from the school. In that case, take good care of your books, and if you think you won't need them, list them on Amazon at the end of the term.
Knowledge can be expensive, but a little bit of applied knowledge can maybe drop the cost a little bit.