The cost of buying college textbooks may add up quickly. This article outlines the steep prices, the need for them, and how you may cut expenses without sacrificing your ability to access the goods.
The price of college textbooks has increased, which is one factor contributing to the growing expense of education. The average price of college textbooks and other school supplies for the 2020–2021 academic year is $1,240, according to data from the College Board. According to 2019 research by the educational goods business Follett, the cost of textbooks has increased by 812% since 1978.
Although slightly more than $1,200 may seem insignificant in comparison to tuition fees, it’s possible for students to struggle to pay for such expenses. According to research by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), 65% of students choose not to purchase college textbooks, and students who are food insecure are more likely than their classmates to choose not to purchase access passwords for online course materials.
Some claim that every college textbook should be free in light of these figures. Does that make sense, though? Should free textbooks for colleges be a thing? Let’s examine some of the problems with textbook prices and consider whether or not college textbooks need to be provided for free.
Why Are Textbooks For Colleges So Expensive?
It seems strange that course materials would be so much more expensive today given the growth of inexpensive textbook vendors. However, using access codes together with tangible course materials is one method to get around that.
Four out of ten college courses, according to PIRG, call for access codes with textbooks. These access credentials offer extra content, including tests and worksheets. The access codes cannot be utilized once they have expired. The textbook is available to subsequent students, generally at a discounted price, but the access credentials are not.
There is little competition in the textbook business, and students rarely have a choice in what they buy. The cost of textbooks is also growing as a result of this circumstance. In essence, textbook publishers don’t have to worry about being undercut on price since they can charge whatever they want and bundle access codes so the following student must purchase the entire bundle.
It’s not surprising that 21% of students bypassed obtaining access credentials due to financial concerns (particularly during the recent pandemic) and unreliable internet connectivity, even if doing so resulted in a grade deduction since they were unable to use the required resources.
What Then Is The Solution? Free Textbooks?
Should textbooks for colleges be free? Cons and benefits
It’s crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of whether or not college textbooks should be provided free of charge.
Advantages Of Free Textbooks
- More reasonably priced for students: Adding free college textbooks might help ease the strain on students as college tuition and other fees continue to be a barrier.
- Greater success rate: Some educators contend that open course materials and college textbooks lead to better results. Free college textbooks lead to higher completion rates and better marks for students.
- Able to spend money on daily expenses: Students’ budgets are strained in circumstances like the worldwide pandemic because of the cost of textbooks, and they may decide to miss meals or postpone other expenses.
Disadvantages Of Free Textbooks
Textbooks cost more than other types of books: A college textbook frequently costs more to manufacture than other sorts of books. Costs increase when strict requirements are met.
The publishing industry for textbooks can fail: If free textbooks push publishers out of business, there may be higher pricing and even less competition as a result of the smaller market. Publishers might experience financial difficulties if there isn’t a strong motivation to release new books because they only profit from the sale of new publications.
How To Handle The Problems With Pricy College Textbooks
More open-source educational materials may make it feasible to find a place for the cost of free college textbooks, provided that quality control is maintained to make sure that the textbooks are up to par.
Even if you disagree with the idea that textbooks should be free, you may still reduce the cost of course materials by mandating that publishers sell access codes in addition to the actual volumes. Thus, the overall cost of bundling would be lower. Publishers might not profit from the sale of brand-new textbooks, but they might profit from the sale of access codes.
Additionally, some instructors are becoming more cost-conscious. When instructors are selective about the course materials they utilize, they might opt for open-source resources or choose to use textbooks without access codes.
The expense of textbooks, along with the rising costs of other components of higher education, may be pricing out lower-income students who need college to improve their socioeconomic conditions. There is no simple answer to this problem.
How To Get Free Textbooks for College
Whether you agree that the textbook should be free or not, you could still have to pay for the necessary course supplies. Finding strategies to reduce the cost of college textbooks or get free textbooks is crucial. While some question whether college textbooks should be free, consider these strategies to save money:
Utilize the library in your school: In many circumstances, the library at your college has access to textbooks. Learn how to do it to access the textbooks. This can be a solution to reduce the physical cost as long as you don’t require an access code.
Classmates can exchange resources: Consider distributing materials among classmates if at all possible. By pooling resources and distributing expenses equitably, you can spend less. This might not function in all courses, though, depending on how access codes are configured.
Compare prices: Don’t automatically assume that the college bookstore will have the greatest deal. Check online to see if there is a less-priced alternative.
Look for subscription services for textbooks. In certain instances, you might be able to use a subscription service to access all of your textbooks for a cheaper monthly fee. Look into your choices to discover what’s out there.
Consult your school for funding and other initiatives. For low-income students to have easier access to course materials, several colleges offer scholarships and other initiatives. Speak to someone about your choices if you are unable to buy textbooks and access credentials. You might be able to get assistance.
Recently an emerging platform, SolutionInn is offering free textbooks to students to help them minimize their burden. Their sole mission is set to improve the current face of education and make things easier for students everywhere. Almond with offering study help and tutoring services, and they claim to deliver free textbooks mailed to your house without any delivery charges.
To Sum Up
While some believe that free textbooks should be available in order to give more students access and assistance, it’s doubtful that this will happen anytime soon. The market is monopolized by textbook publishers, and many individuals still enjoy the concept of paying for certain facets of education.
If more is not done to reduce the cost of college textbooks, the price will likely keep rising. To address this issue, institutions must concentrate on helping students afford textbooks.
While waiting for change on their college campuses, students may keep exploring methods to lower the cost of textbooks.