Every fall students all over the country will flock to their respective colleges, enroll in courses, pick up their syllabi, walk over the bookstore and freak out at the prices of the required textbooks. No kids, those aren’t typos. Your physics textbook really does run $350 and yes, you are paying more than when you started just four years ago.
This week’s chart, brought to us by the American Enterprise Institute, shows the rapid rise in textbook costs relative to inflation and, super bonus, to books in general. Textbook costs have risen substantially faster than general inflation, home prices, and medical care. And this in a world where Amazon regularly slashes the prices of popular titles… traditional publishing books have actually decreased in price over the years.
As the AEI full article points out, with average textbook prices for some disciplines in the range of $250 and with several books required each semester, this can add thousands and thousands of dollars to the cost of one’s college tally. Nobody will deny that students are getting ripped off, but what to do about it? How do we work these costs into our plans? Can these costs be combatted? We have given you some great tips, which you can find by clicking “books” in the categories column to your right.
Note: This is the third installment of a 3-part series of tips on how to mitigate the ever-rising costs of college textbooks. See also posts 1 and 2 on this topic.
Let’s address three strategies for your textbook woes that don’t actually require you to buy any textbooks to get the job done. These may not come into play as often, but if they do you’ll be glad you tried. Continue reading Addressing Textbook Pain (3 of 3)→
How to address the ever rising costs of textbooks? Getting your textbook purchases wrong can severely punish your bottom line, but how do we get it right in this era of multi-digit prices? Today let’s look at three of the more typical sources of textbook procurement. In the next two posts we will then explore some more creative ways to get it done.
On Campus Bookstore
So you got your syllabus. On it are a list of books your professor wants you to read. The tempting thing to do would be to stroll over to your campus bookstore where you can be assured said textbooks can be found. However, while convenient, I would highly encourage you to not simply grab your book lists and stroll over to the campus bookstore to pay whatever the price tag says.
In fact, if at all possible, I’d recommend avoiding the campus bookstore altogether. Treat it not as your first resort but your last. There, with rare exception, you will find the best chances for finding the books you need but at the highest prices going. Fortunately, this is a feat more and more possible as other avenues become available through the Internet. Let’s explore a few of these options available to you before you put even more money into your college’s coffers. Continue reading Addressing Textbook Pain (1 of 3)→
This chart comes courtesy of Adam Zoll, assistant site editor of Morningstar.com, who has been on a tear lately with a number of quality articles related to college finances. His informative series is not only packed with quantitative insights into higher education and related savings vehicles but also the sort of good, broad, and level-headed guidance lacking elsewhere. If you’re in the hunt for money saving ideas, and I suspect you are if you’re reading this blog, you can get some pretty compact advice by checking out his recent articles.
In this chart and article, titled And You Thought Just Tuition Was Expensive, Mr. Zoll points to a major problem for the affordologist: the fact that we cannot overlook the high and ever-rising costs in all things college. According to his sources, the additional costs of college- books, room and board, transportation, and incidentals- tack on an additional $14,000 per year per student on average. That’s not insignificant given that in-state public school tuition tends to run about $9,000 per year. Continue reading Chart: The Total Costs of College→