Spending on College Course Material Shows Declining Trend
A new survey suggests that prices of textbooks have decreased over the years in the United States bringing a sigh of relief for millions of college students.
According to the National Association of College Stores’ (NACS) annual survey, college students spent $415 on nine required course materials during the 2018-19 academic year, which is $69 less than the previous year and $286 less than the average amount spent by students in 2008.
Purchasing and using free materials including class handouts, lecture notes, website articles, academic journals, and textbooks remains almost equally popular among college students. In 2019, 83 percent purchased materials, while 89 percent reported using a variety of free materials. Overall, the rate of students who purchased, rented, and borrowed materials has remained stable since 2014
“It is clear that many of the affordability solutions developed over the past 10 years by campus stores, the broader industry, and post-secondary institutions have led to substantial savings,” said Richard Hershman, vice president of NACS government relations.
When it comes to purchasing and renting course materials, a campus store is one of the top sources for nearly 79 percent of students, followed by publisher website, peers and Chegg website.
The demand for print-only material has seen a decline over the last few years. About 26 percent of students prefer strictly print textbooks during the academic year, which is 21 percentage points down from it’s the highest point in 2016.
On the contrary, the Federal Register notice has documented a great surge in the cost of textbooks, with 88 percent rise in 2006-2016. The average cost increased to $1,263 for four-year college students and $1,458 for two–year schools in 2016-2017.
Over the years, the federal government along with many universities have launched programs and initiatives to develop free course materials.
In October, the University of California received a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop free and open textbooks for career-technical education (CTE) fields and high enrollment subjects like chemistry.
Rice University’s nonprofit publisher OpenStax and eleven colleges and universities across the country collaborated to save nearly $17.4 million on textbook and materials costs with the use of free learning materials available on OpenStax.