Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Cost Of College Textbooks

When thinking about college expenses, most of the time I think about tuition and housing costs, but the cost of textbooks is another aspect I need to consider when planning my finances for college. Some facts on the cost of college text books from an article I came across:

A Government Accountability Office report found that in the past two decades, 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.

According to the GAO, 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, according to the GAO report.

That, folks, is not chump change when you consider that so many students are already heavily borrowing to attend college. It's not unusual for one textbook to cost more than $100.

Since I still have 17 years before I will be attending college, books are likely to be a lot more expensive then. I'll have to keep on top of ways that I can reduce the costs of textbooks. Here are a few from the article:

  • Use free sites such as where students are able to buy and sell used books directly from one another.

  • Consider purchasing textbooks online from used and discount textbook sellers, but remember to calculate shipping into their costs.

  • Before purchasing a textbook, be sure to check the ISBN number to make sure you're purchasing the correct book. Also, makes sure it's the correct edition.

  • Contact the professor to see if an older edition of the textbook is acceptable. Older editions will be a fraction of the cost.

  • Used textbooks are much cheaper than new books - typically 75% less than new college textbooks.

  • Find the which textbooks you need to purchase even before you head back to school. Many college bookstores post the required textbooks online for each course. If you wait until you return, any used textbooks (and their cheaper prices) will be long gone.

    Anonymous said...

    I think it is really sad that this is the case. I really do believe that people are taking complete advantage of college students because they are sort of required to have these overpriced textbooks. I was lucky enough to have a rental service at my college, and I only shelled out maybe $200 in my four years.

    Rhea said...

    Whoa! I never met such a smart baby. Very cool blog.