The Big Price of College Textbooks

Can’t stand those college textbook prices? The Seattle Post Intelligencer has a quality article on the frustration students have with paying big bucks for these books.

Reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Public Interest Research Group document the following statistics about college textbooks:

  • College textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation. In academic year 2003-04, students and their families spent more than $6 billion on new and used textbooks.
  • the average estimated cost of books and supplies for a first-time, full-time student in 2003-04 was $898 at four-year public institutions. That amounted to about 26 percent of the cost of tuition and fees
  • At two-year public institutions, where low-income students are more likely to pursue a degree program and tuition and fees are lower, the average estimated cost of books and supplies per first-time full-time student was $886, representing almost three-quarters of the cost of tuition and fees
  • The most widely purchased textbooks on college campuses have new editions published every three years
  • A new edition usually costs 45 percent more than a used copy of the previous edition
  • Used textbooks are typically priced at 75 percent of the retail price of the new book. Prices on used books range from $10 to $80, with the average price being about $40

The end of the article contains some useful tips on how to reduce textbook costs.

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