Right along with major events like high school graduation, marriage or getting your first job, going to college is a pivotal life experience. From pulling all-nighters at the library to cram for an exam to ditching class for a much needed mini vacation, college life can be bitter sweet.
Unfortunately, it seems the bitter is getting even more bitter.
While registering for classes and purchasing books are a part of the normal college routine, it’s becoming quite daunting. Worrying about a course’s difficulty level or a professor’s rigidity should be the worst of a student’s worries, but continuously soaring book prices have some students questioning the meaning of higher education. An alarming fact is that college textbook prices have increased faster than inflation and tuition.
Just How Much More Are Textbooks Now Compared To The Past?
In the past, the concern about educational book prices was usually just a case of the financially challenged college student trying to save a few bucks. Now, however, it’s more a matter of digging deep to scrape up the last pennies to pay for books alone.
Just to get a deeper look at the soaring prices, first consider the fact that college tuition rates increased 63 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and that number is steadily rising. During that same time frame, student housing increased by 51 percent and textbook prices by 88%.
According to the American Enterprise Institute, by 2017, educational textbook prices had increased 812 percent since 1978. That beats the increase in tuition costs (559percent), home prices (325 percent), the consumer price index (250 percent), and medical services (575 percent).
What do all these percentages look like in dollars? Students can expect to spend between $700 and $2000 per year on average just for books.
Who Is To Blame For the Soaring Costs Of Textbooks?
The fact is that colleges and universities are helping publishers get rich. A U.S. News article states that around 77 percent of a book’s profits go to the publisher while a smaller portion goes to the universities and shipping companies.
What makes prices spike even higher is the addition of supplemental materials, like website access to interactive study tools and CD-ROMs. It also doesn’t help that new editions occur every few years. So much for reusing or buying books that are used when there’s already a newer edition to take its place.
How College Students Are Reacting To The Textbook Pricing Crisis
You might expect persevering students to tough it out and just dish out the money for the sake of attaining an education. There are plenty of students who have the mindset to do what it takes, but sometimes prices are just too steep.
Author Herb Weissbaum of CNBC, mentions that college students are taking risks that could negatively impact their academic careers. For example, 65 percent of students surveyed had at least once opted out of buying a course textbook because of the price. Almost half of the students said that textbook costs affected their class choices, as well as how many classes they would take.
Are There Alternatives?
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on your collegiate dreams. There are ways to counteract the crisis that is spreading throughout the world. Students are finding frugal ways to buy textbooks for their classes without going completely broke. Options include buying books online and used and even selling their expensive books after completing a course.
Once upon a time, there were small, privately owned bookstores in college neighborhoods that bought and sold old textbooks for way less than the college book store. Now that same concept exists online with numerous used booksellers and buyers like Amazon, BooksRun, and Chegg.
These sites make book buying easy, and chances are you’ll have numerous sellers from which to choose.
In an ideal world, we’d all be able to hold on to our beloved books and display them on your bookshelves until they’re layered with dust. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. Sites like the three mentioned above don’t just allow you to buy textbooks for a fraction of their bookstore price. They also make it easy for you to re-sell them. For example, BooksRun just requires you to enter an ISBN number, attain a pre-paid label and send your book to them. Get paid easily with a direct deposit to your bank account or PayPal. Just be sure to sell before that new edition comes out.
The textbook industry is building wealth at lightning speed, and it’s not expected to change any time soon. However, don’t think about dropping out just yet. Buying used texts and also selling your used texts can keep you from having to chalk up your precious dollars.