Textbook costs squeeze students

Two-thirds of college students didn’t buy a textbook last year because of the cost, according to a U.S. PIRG survey. Students average $1,200 per year on books and supplies, estimates the advocacy group, which is pushing for free online learning materials.

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Comments

  1. Several state universities have a textbook rental service. Average cost to students for 15 hours of class: $150 a semester.

  2. Deirdre Mundy says:

    This isn’t a ‘starving students’ thing so much as a ‘Savvy consumer’ thing. Professors often order books that they’ll only use one or two chapters from. But the same books are often on reserve in the library. So students borrow the books, xerox what they need, and save money.

    I frequently did this even with books I could have afforded. It’s easier to buy a 4.95 paperback than to deal with reserve. But when the book is 150.00? Reserve is more efficient if it’s not something you want to keep forever.

    Heck, for books that are out of copyright (like Austen, for example), why buy at all when you can get it free for your e-reader?

    Hooray for today’s students. They’re smart enough not to overspend for things they won’t use.

  3. From comments on this site and others, many students simply won’t do assigned readings and some are literally unable to read the textbook or other sources. It sounds better to say that cost is the issue rather than either of the above.

  4. At our co-op, we run into similar expenses with high school students, since the students buy their own books. The teachers often recommend that they buy older editions of the books. I once told a mom that I had 4 different editions of the same book from my time teaching at a CC and there was only one change in content, a rearrangement that doesn’t affect any students who know to go read the section on ‘subject X’, wherever it is. When I taught college students, I would let them compare their older books with my new edition so that they could make a note of any changes.

  5. How timely!! Son just rented his calc text for $15. The Access Code for the class though was $95 — and that vanishes at the end of the semester. Similar for other classes.

  6. How timely!! Son just rented his calc text for $15. The Access Code for the class though was $95 — and that vanishes at the end of the semester. Similar for other classes.

  7. Rebbecca Silva says:

    As a college instructor, while I sympathize with the students on the cost of the book, it is very difficult to be successful without a textbook. I teach mainly science courses. I assign reading in the book as well as exercises provided through the publisher’s website. Those assignments are part of their grade. I have often referred students to Amazon or textbook rental services to alleviate the costs from the college bookstore.