Published on 2012/01/30
The Higher Education Money Pit
The cost of textbooks contribute to higher education's money pit. Illustration by Patrick Hoesly

Earning a college degree is probably one of the more rewarding events of an individual’s life. However, the financial cost of obtaining such an honor can prove to be somewhat extensive. In recent years the rising cost of tuition has been the primary focal point for many interested in higher education but we are also confronted with hidden costs that have been infringed upon us. One of the main areas that continue to contribute to this academic money pit is in the cost of textbooks.

In addition to the already rising tuition, another 20% is added to college expenses for the cost of required textbooks. These numbers suggest that, outside of tuition, textbook cost is the one greatest expense for a college student. Incredibly, many of these textbooks are coupled with materials that will not be used in the courses taken; but what this method of marketing does is offer a way for companies to legitimize the outrageous cost of the books being sold to college students. Federal regulations have been put in place to start to combat this problem, but it is still a major issue.

Furthermore, you will find that in any given discipline the textbooks change on a regular basis. A more alarming fact is that while the textbooks that are required keep changing, there is evidence of very little change in the content from one edition to the next. In many cases the only difference that the reader will encounter is the pages on which material is located, otherwise the material is parallel.

Research shows that, in comparison to other countries, the United States spends the most in this area of higher education. So, what can we do? We can continue to petition the government for solid intervention to the problem, asking that they impose tougher regulations on those who attempt to take advantage of students seeking to improve their lives through higher education. We must write to local congress members and voice our concerns. From an economic standpoint, the problem of textbook cost affects our society as a whole, from the student to the government. We have to find a way to deal with it once and for all.

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Readers Comments

Mark L. 2012/01/31 at 7:46 am

I wound up dropping out of my degree program because the costs were too high. Tuition itself was in the thousands each year, and then I had to buy these $200-$300 books that get replaced annually? Ridiculous.

Apparently Apple is selling e-textbooks at $15… A reason to get an iPad?

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