Anyone who teaches community college students is aware of the precarious financial situation many of them are in. And although we applaud those who have the courage to improve their lives by going to college, we know that a lifetime of student loan debt will limit their futures long after they leave us.
The price of textbooks is one of the culprits raising costs and student debt. Some facts:
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of textbooks went up 812% between 1978 and 2013. More than health care (535%), new homes (325%), or the Consumer Price Index (250%).
- The average student spends more than $900 a year on textbooks. (I was not able to find that number for NMC students.)
- Textbook publishing is a highly lucrative business. The big guys—McGraw-Hill, Wiley, Pearson, Elsivier—are making profits of between 10% and 25% a year.
In a survey conducted of 2000 students on 150 campuses last year by The Federation of State Public Interest Research Groups (U.S. PIRG),
- 65% said they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.
- Nearly half (48%) said the cost of books had an impact on how many or which classes they took.
- 94% of the students who had skipped buying a required book said they were concerned that doing this would hurt their grade in that course.
Last fall semester, NMC’s library checked out textbooks on reserve 500 times. Even though this program is very popular, its effectiveness is limited by library hours, transportation issues, and the sheer number of textbooks needed.
Reducing students’ textbook costs is one way to put a dent in the cost of college and student debt without cutting into NMC’s revenue. Next week’s blog post by Jan Oliver will highlight ways other colleges are going to bat for their students! We hope you are interested in exploring ways NMC can step up to the plate by using Open Textbooks and other Open Educational Resources.
stay tuned for more to come!