High textbook prices hurt students in more ways than just their pocketbook.
It’s common knowledge that college textbook prices are high. We hear it from students, from some faculty, and from advocacy groups. Prices have been rising well past inflation.
And it’s not just that students have to shell out a few more dollars. Having to pay high costs are causing students to have to make tough choices, such as whether to pay a bill or buy a textbook, or whether to keep a class or to drop it.
In this article, we will explore five ways that high textbook prices are affecting students and how we can help solve it.
High textbook prices force students to make tough financial decisions
It may be easy for some to brush off this statement by saying “Sure, when you are in college, you are broke, you have to make choices.”
But it’s not that simple. Check out these recent articles:
- Textbooks or lunch? College students struggle for daily meals
- Starving for an education: college students nationwide choose between textbooks and food
- Increasing Textbook Prices Forcing Families to Give Up on Necessities
- Textbook affordability survey results show student concern
- Professors should not make textbooks mandatory
As one student wrote: “The cost of books has lead me to have to choose from paying for bills, buying some food or racking up more credit card debt.”
Are textbook prices the entire problem? No, of course not. But it is part of the problem.
Having to spend an extra $300-600+ a semester when you are already broke is not pocket change.
When you must choose between food and a textbook, that’s an issue.
High textbook prices hurt students’ learning
What happens when students can’t afford the textbook? The don’t buy it.
While some classes don’t really use the book as part of the class, many do. And if a student doesn’t have it, they miss out on learning.
And because of that:
High textbook prices hurt students’ grades
The sad part about the nearly 66% of students who didn’t buy a textbook because of the price? 94% of them knew it could affect their grade.
In one study, 37.6% of those students earned a poor grade and 19.8% failed a course.
High textbook prices hurt time to graduation and access to courses
According to the same study, 47.6% of students said they “occasionally or frequently take fewer courses” because of textbook costs.
45.5% did not register for a course, 26.1% dropped a course, 20.7% withdrew from a course because of the cost.
And, though, the study doesn’t mention it, how do you think that affects retention and graduation rates themselves? If they are having to stay longer in college, and especially if they are struggling financially, it seems logical it could affect those negatively.
High textbook prices create extra stress for the students
Some student’s struggle as it is attending college in the first place. Some are first-generation college students. Others are working while trying to attend college. Some have families as well.
Having to struggle with the cost of textbooks and the repercussions we have mentioned, it just adds extra stress to their lives and their college experience as a whole.
It’s easy to see how students are struggling because of textbook prices. They are having to make tough financial choices, it hurts their learning and their grades, it affects their time to graduation, and it adds unneeded stress.
Thankfully there are solutions out there. Open Educational Resources (OER) is one option that’s relatively inexpensive or free. Openstax is one solution.
Lead Winds and others off inclusive access. When a college pays for the textbook or makes it part of the tuition, prices are reduced even more.
Whatever you choose, let’s work together to provide a solution to our students that helps these problems and propel them to a better future.