Average College Students Spend $1,225 on Textbooks

Average College Students Spend $1,225 on Textbooks
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Research indicates that the average college student spent $1,225 on books in the 2014-2015 academic year. In lieu of the one of the most overlooked costs of going to college and barriers to attending college, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin, Al Franken and Angus King introduced legislation to help make college textbooks more affordable. The College Textbook Affordability Act would take high quality textbooks and make them easily accessible and free to students, professors and the public. Buying books for college is inevitable - but is there a way to make it less pocket-draining?

Textbook costs have skyrocketed since 1977 by a daunting 1,041 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What most people don't know is that publishing companies have enormous textbook charges for the smallest changes in content and unwanted bundled material. Add those insignificant changes plus high prices and you have students investing in materials that are seldom touched. Do students really have a way around these expensive materials? Perhaps you have tried to scan "on reserve" textbooks in your library or share with your classmates. Some versions of the textbook may be located online for free, but will typically only offer a preview. At the end of the day, it is almost impossible to pass courses without purchasing the materials. Durbin is seeking to also provide open education resources (OERs) to grant students better accessibility to materials, whether it be online or downloading to a digital device.

The upsides to this change are obvious: cheaper textbooks, greater accessibility and more college affordability. But can this lead to the death of textbooks? What happens to traditional pedagogy and educational practice? With the new wave of educational technology, the ways in which students acquire information, how students are tested and how teachers fit into the picture may be affected. Artificial intelligence now has students entranced in screens, which is believed to cause detrimental physical and cognitive development. Lowering the cost of textbooks is one thing - switching platform is another thing. Nancie Atwell best summarizes this point: "Technology is a means; it's not an end. And it's become an end within this country."

Do you support the transition to eBooks, open textbooks and the like, or do you support traditional textbooks? What do you think is the best method in resolving the issue of overpriced textbooks? There are schools that will pay full tuition and fees, if you qualify for the scholarship.

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