UTSA Libraries & Textbooks
Cost of Higher Education
A U.S Department of Education study conducted in 2006 estimated that as many as 2.4 million students would not finish college during the first decade of the 21st century due to college affordability issues. While students cite many stressors that contribute to higher education cost overall, course materials costs surpass housing and food in triggering stress. Textbooks are the one area where faculty are key decision-makers and can impact the lives of students.
Rising Textbook Costs
According to an NBC News Report, the average cost of textbooks rose three times faster than the rate of inflation between 1977 and 2015, increasing faster than the consumer price index for tuition, healthcare, or housing, for a total rise of 1045% during that period. As a result, 65% of college students skipped purchasing required textbooks at some point due to cost.
According to a 2021 Student Public Interest Research Group report that surveyed 4,000 students across 83 institutions, students cited the impacts of textbook costs presented in Table 1.
|Student Response||Percentage Responding|
|Skipped buying a textbook||63%|
|Skipped buying an access code||21%|
|Worried foregoing purchase of course materials would negatively impact their grade||90%|
|Worked extra hours||25%|
|Prioritized purchasing access codes over other course materials||22%|
|Chose classes based on their course materials cost||19%|
Food Insecurity at UTSA
Figure 1: Student post-it from 2018 crowdfunding initiative with UTSA SGA
According to the Florida Virtual Campus Survey, the burden of textbooks is also hampering academic success, persistence, and retention (2018).
|Not purchase the required textbook||64.25%|
|Take fewer courses||42.76%|
|Not register for a specific course||40.55%|
|Earn a poor grade because I could not afford to buy the textbook||35.62%|
|Drop a course||22.91%|
Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid Assistance. (2006). “Mortgaging our future: How financial barriers to college undercut Americans' global competitiveness.”
Florida Virtual Campus. (2018). Student textbook and course materials survey: results and findings.
National Association of College Stores. (2018). Student watch: Attitudes and behaviors toward course materials.
NBC News. (2015). “College textbook prices have risen 1,041 percent since 1977.”
Student PIRGs. (2021). “Fixing the broken textbook market.” Student Public Interest Research Groups.