As long-time readers know, I strongly believe that the national discussion about the costs of textbooks and course materials is more productive when we focus on actual student behaviors and impacts, rather than artificial numbers used by many organizations. There may be short-term benefit from claiming or implying that the average college student spends $1200 […]
Last month the nonprofit advocacy group Achieving the Dream announced a new initiative to fund 38 community colleges who are willing to build entire programs with open educational resources. While this is a noble effort aimed at reducing financial barriers for students to get two-year degrees, the group perpetuated the same myth that has plagued higher education for years.
David Wiley has added to the conversation over use of data on college textbook pricing and student spending patterns with “The Practical Cost of Textbooks”. The key argument is to go beyond prices and spending and look at the most direct measure of asking students themselves how textbooks costs have impacted them.
It is important to look at both types of data – textbook list prices and student expenditures – to see some of the important market dynamics at play. All in all, students are exercising their market power to keep their expenditures down – buying used, renting, borrowing, obtaining illegally, delaying purchase, or just not using at all.
The average US college student does not spend or budget more than $1,200 for textbooks, with that number rising each year, as commonly reported in the national media. The best data available continues to show that students spend roughly half of that amount, and that number is going down over time, not up. Last spring […]