TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Students Sacrifice Meals And Trips Home To Pay For Textbooks

Inside Higher Ed, Students Sacrifice Meals and Trips Home to Pay for Textbooks:

It's well documented that textbooks aren't cheap, but for some students, affording course materials takes priority over paying for meals or flights home, or pursuing their first choice of major.

A new study by Morning Consult for Cengage, an educational technology and services company, asked 1,651 current and former college students how purchasing textbooks figures into their financial picture. Forty-one percent of those students said that textbooks and other course materials had "somewhat of an impact" on their financial situation, and 46 percent said that it had "a big impact."

"We truly are in an access crisis," said Richard Baraniuk, a professor at Rice University and founder of OpenStax, a nonprofit that provides access to free digital editions of textbooks. "Over the past 40 years, college textbook prices have risen about 1,000 percent, which is extraordinary. ...

Thirty percent of survey respondents said they had forgone a trip home to see family, 43 percent said they skipped meals, 31 percent registered for fewer classes and 69 percent worked a job during the school year -- all to save money for books.

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look at Cengage prices for textbooks. If textbooks are expensive, then blame Cengage.

Posted by: mike | Aug 7, 2018 3:12:20 PM

Yeah? I did, too. What's your point?

Posted by: Jim | Aug 8, 2018 5:17:34 AM

Funny, most have expensive clothes, cell phone plans and eat out at restaurants frequently...But textbooks are the problem? Why not sacrifice one weekend night out per week and stop whining?

Posted by: Penny Poocher | Aug 8, 2018 6:56:01 AM

I remember skipping meals in college for lack of funds, especially freshman year when I was afraid securing a job might sabotage my academics. In law school I seldom made it back home due to financial constraints. Oh the humanity!

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Aug 8, 2018 8:07:20 AM

This is sad. A few years back I compared the cost of my physics textbook in the late 1960s with the cost of its equivalent today. Working, as most college students do, at the minimum wage, today's students would have to work seven times as long as I did.

And quite frankly, I'm impressed that students did without to buy these textbooks. That's a lot more sensible than incurring a debt that has to be paid back.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Aug 8, 2018 9:23:11 AM

I remember going to my son's tech school with him a few years ago to purchase a single textbook. It was comb-bound, cost $250.00, and he'd need it for one semester. I can easily imaging a textbook or two, even used, equating to a month's food budget or the cost of a super saver airfare.

My service club gives $1,000 annually in scholarships for students in undergraduate sign language programs at a local university. We started out giving four $250 scholarships. At the faculty's request, we now give two $500 scholarships. I'm surprised they haven't asked us to either increase the scholarship total or simply give a single $1,000 scholarship each year.

Posted by: Michael L. Wyland | Aug 8, 2018 11:43:03 AM

Here's something on the topic of the price of textbooks.

I retired a couple of years ago, and I guess I forgot to tell McGrawHill. They recently sent me five (yes, 5) new tax textbooks, probably with bookstore prices of $200 or more.

I called them, said send me mailing stickers and I will send them back. They said 'don't bother. Use them for doorstop or firewood.'

That reminded me why I stopped using textbooks for my income tax courses years ago!!

Posted by: eli bortman | Aug 8, 2018 11:55:36 AM

Professor writes textbook. Professor publishes textbook and receives revenue based on number of textbooks sold and the price per copy. Professor requires textbook for class. Any doubt as to why cost per copy has skyrocketed?

Posted by: daveclay | Aug 9, 2018 6:54:54 AM