The cost of a college education continues to shoot straight through the roof as students get loaded with more and more debt to pay for college. Even despite the fact that you have books sold at discounted rates, they still cost a small fortune to buy. The cost of college textbooks has risen by up to four times in the last 10 years. As a result, up to 65 percent of college students have foregone buying books at some point as a student because of how the costs have spiraled out of control.
What Has Raised the Costs?
The biggest culprit behind the rising costs has been linked to these books being bundled with what’s known as an “access code.” It expires at the end of the year, and this code has forced students to have to buy new books at the end of every semester. With the access code, they have been turned into a largely unavailable book at the end of the semester, which means that you can’t resell them. As a result, college students have had to go through the retail store to buy them. The materials that students need for study have increasingly been placed behind a paywall, which requires a unique log-in that expires. In fact, most analysts estimate that students pay $1,200 per year on books and other school supplies. You can pay as much as $200 for the average book.
Accepting the Risks
One of the biggest problems from raising the cost of books comes from how students will many times go without the required text. They have basically accepted the risk that they will receive a lower grade as a result of not having a textbook. In addition, it has had a negative impact on the types of classes that students would choose. Before, they might take a class simply for the joy of learning, but now, it’s too risky to take on that much debt for another class.
Other Factors in Rising Costs
Some of the other factors that come as a result of the rising costs include a lack of competition. You have five key publishers that control an estimated 80 percent of the market, and this allows them to gouge students on prices because they don’t have enough options. The second problem comes from how students don’t get a choice in the type of books that they want. When a course makes a recommendation on a book, they have to buy it, which makes it easier to raise the prices on them. The industry has been changing and a move toward digital learning has meant that books have been done away with, and it requires that students buy an access code. This has all conglomerated to allow for the perfect storm.
How Has the Rising Costs Affected Students
Students have been impacted by these rising costs in a number of ways. First, students have fallen back on financial aid money. An estimated 30 percent of all college students have begun to depend on financial aid to pay for the books. Community college students have an ever-increasing likelihood of falling back on this type of financial aid. When you look at the trends, the students spent an average of $300 each semester for buying these books. In some cases, students may not take a class with the best professor because they can’t afford the textbook that he teaches from.
Where the Access Codes Get Used the Most
In particular, the access codes have seen wide usage among the introductory courses. However, because it has been so profitable, it’s likely that students will see this used throughout colleges, which could lead to higher costs for books in general. Publishers in the business are in the game to make money, so they will go wherever the profits can be made.
Open Textbooks: The Future?
Despite the rising costs, we have seen a number of innovators who have shown up to meet the coming challenges of rising college costs. For example, Irene Duranczyk, a professor from the University of Minnesota, has employed the use of open books. These books have been written by the faculty, and they have been peer-reviewed to ensure the best quality. Normally, you can get them for free online, but they can be bought for $20 to $40 in physical print.
What if That Isn’t an Option
Fortunately, you have another option that has been rising in popularity where you rent textbooks. It is cheaper to rent textbooks. However, you should always keep in mind that you will have to return the book by the scheduled date. Let’s say that you want to hang onto the book to study for finals. You will need to ask if they offer a service for extensions.
While the costs continue to skyrocket, you do have some alternatives that could prove beneficial. Another one of your options is to share your textbook with a friend. You split the cost. This has proven another one of the ways that students are saving money on college textbooks. When you divide the cost between you, you will make it much cheaper in the long run. The one advantage of rental, however, is that you have it for yourself, and you can avoid problems like if your friend loses the book or can’t be relied upon for getting it to you on time.
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