Technology, rental programs, and new laws could finally reverse the trend of rising textbook costs, according to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report. Students, parents, and professors alike often recoil at the astronomical pricetag of some textbooks, especially for introductory courses students are required to take. For many, textbook purchases can represent the last hurdle in the race to pay for school, as students who have managed to find money for college tuition and housing still may not be able to foot a textbook bill of several hundred dollars per semester.
Now, a combination of factors may finally bring some relief to students in this predicament. In recent years, schools and private companies have piloted textbook rental programs that have been met with a great deal of enthusiasm from students who are now able to rent many of the general education textbooks that they would likely sell back to the bookstore at the end of the semester. E-books and open source projects have begun to catch professors' attention as alternatives to requiring students to purchase an expensive hard copy of a textbook.
Finally, a bill currently under consideration in Congress would require textbook companies to provide professors with accurate pricing information before book orders are placed. This would allow professors to choose textbooks based on price, in addition to quality of information. The proposed law would also require publishers to provide unbundled versions of currently bundled textbook packages, which often have high prices due to the inclusion of workbooks or electronic content that many students and professors wind up electing not to use.
Cheaper textbook options such as these can help students save money in college, which is a relief for every student, whether they are paying with scholarship money, federal financial aid, or their own savings.