Students and parents complain about tuition being high, but what’s even more astronomical is the price of textbooks. Since 1977, the cost of textbooks has gone up over one thousand percent and students are fed up.
Matthew Charnin is a third-year student at the University of Colorado and says he pays about $1,200 a year on textbooks.
Charnin says, “It’s detrimental to students' success. It needs to change.”
The question is, why have prices gone up? Kaitlyn Vitez, a higher education advocate, says one of the reasons is because of what’s called an access code.
“It’s an online paywall that hides students' homework, quizzes, sometimes even exams, sometimes other study aides.”
Vitez says, when you bundle an expensive online system with a textbook and you can’t find it anywhere else, students will have to pay sticker price.
Finding cheaper textbooks is homework all in itself. Instead of going to places like Amazon, Charnin says, there’s another website that can get you a free textbook.
It’s called Open Source Textbooks. They are peer reviewed textbooks written from people in their field. Students can download them for about $30 or less — sometimes for free.
Until higher education becomes affordable, both Charnin and Vitez will continue spreading the word about ways to make learning fair.
"Performance in the class is suffering. If faculty switch over to open textbooks, not only are they going to be saving students money, but they are going to get day one access to materials they need to participate," Vitez said.
If the stress of paying for textbooks goes away by making them free, Charnin believes more people would be going to college.
"Education is a lot more accessible at that point," he said.
You can read the full report from U.S. PIRG on college textbook costs here.