- A new Morning Consult study shows that 46% of students surveyed believe textbooks and other course materials have a "big impact" on their financial situations, and some experts say the costs heighten stress and force students to make tradeoffs that affect their ability to pay for housing and food, according to Inside Higher Education.
- About 43% of students surveyed said they skipped meals because of the expense for books, about 70% said they took on a part-time job because of the the added costs and around 30% said they had to take fewer classes. Some respondents even changed their major or opted out of a specific course so they would not have to pay the extra money.
- The head of the the education technology firm Cengage, which sponsored the survey of more than 1,600 students, said that textbooks and other course materials cost on average $1,200 a year per student, though learners often find other avenues — including renting books or copying what they need — but still pay almost half that.
In addition to financial sacrifices, about 17% of respondents to the Morning Consult survey said they changed their major because of high textbook prices, and 33% opted not to take a specific course. Among those changing their major, 12% were in medicine and 9% were in both business and computer science.
To help lessen the impact, colleges have supported textbook rental programs and have expanded use of open educational resources (OER). The U.S. Department of Education also is expanding access to free, open textbooks as well as the nonprofit OpenStax based at Rice University. Textbook publishers also are offering some OER options.
The expansion of OER resources is also thought to increase student engagement as it lessens the burden of worrying about acquiring the materials — and even improve grades. A recent SRI Education survey showed that 84% of faculty members surveyed reported that students using OER in the courses they taught demonstrated the same or higher level of engagement as students using traditional course materials.
But researchers say that acceptance of open resources on campus has been slow.