Year after year, students line the walkways leading to the back of the dimly lit bookstore with their class schedules in hand and fear plastered on their faces as they surround themselves with the cold and expensive horror of buying textbooks.
With no way around securing the required materials for each class, students are forced to spend hundreds of dollars on assigned texts and access codes as they battle rising textbook prices.
According to College Board, students on average can spend upwards of $1,200 on textbooks annually, with some books costing a few hundred dollars each. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported textbook prices increased a total of 82 percent from 2002 to 2012, which was nearly three times the rate of inflation.
Many professors around campus are mindful of the horrendous prices for textbooks and have attempted to either require fewer books for class or to use alternate resources to teach the curriculum. Knowing both parents and students are faced with the hefty burden each semester, some have even modified coursework to make classes more economical.
Likewise, most bookstores offer students options to buy new, used or rented course materials in order to reduce their overall costs. However, despite those efforts, the cost of used or rented materials is directly related to the price of new materials, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 2005, it was reported that used textbooks were offered for about 75 percent of the new textbook price, with digital and rented books following close behind. So in other words, as new textbook prices rise, so do the alternate “cheaper” options, creating a mere allusion of saving money.
Based on a study from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an independent research and advocacy group, about 65 percent of students had decided to not buy a college textbook due to its high price and 94 percent of students who didn’t purchase a textbook were concerned that it would hurt their grade in a course.
At this point, textbook prices are no longer just a burden; they are crippling students’ abilities to be successful in school, which is contradictory as course materials are supposed to aid students in learning.
In this day and age as college has become more accessible for students, textbooks should not act as a limiting factor for an education. Students should not have to take out additional loans or contemplate going without a textbook for a class because price is an issue.
The unnecessary rise of textbook prices needs to stop before the resource becomes too far out of reach for students and becomes a hindrance to the mission of receiving a professional education.