The Student PIRGs conducted this study to determine how digital textbooks can live up to their potential as a solution. Through a survey of 504 students from Oregon and Illinois and 50 commonly assigned textbook titles, we confirm three fundamental criteria – affordability, printing options, and accessibility. We found that publishers’ digital “e-textbooks” fail to meet these criteria, and that an emerging form of digital textbooks – open textbooks – are a perfect match. (August 2008)
In 2007 Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. The bill included several provisions to lessen the burden of student debt including:
- More than two billion dollars a year in additional funding for the Pell Grant program. The Pell Grant helps more than 5 million lower-income students each year.
- A new Income-Based Repayment program that allows student loan borrowers to repay their federal loans as a percentage of their income.
- Reductions in interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans.
Over the last three years, research conducted by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) and others have shown that textbooks are a growing cost of going to college. These studies also have found that the textbook industry is using a host of practices that drive up the price of college textbooks. In the fall of 2006, we interviewed faculty members, walked through bookstores and interviewed bookstore staff to uncover textbooks that reveal six types of textbook industry gimmicks. (October 2006)
Today’s college students are under enormous financial pressure. The gap between tuition and fees and financial aid leaves many students working long hours through college, struggling to make ends meet, and graduating with large debts. The high cost of textbooks is yet another financial burden. MASSPIRG conducted a survey of 287 professors from a variety of disciplines at Massachusetts colleges and universities over the fall semester of 2006 to get their views on textbook industry practices that drive up prices. (February 2007)
College textbooks are an essential but increasingly expensive part of obtaining a higher education. Major publishers have done little to provide adequate lower-cost versions of most textbooks and advertise them to professors ordering books for their classes. In response, alternative and online publishers are offering lower-cost and even free versions of some textbooks. Although these alternatives have the potential to compete with the traditional publishers, they have not yet secured a significant part of the textbook market. As a result, the responsibility for making textbooks more affordable still falls on the major publishers. (August 2006)
The future of academic research is in peril. University budgets are decreasing while the cost of academic journals is skyrocketing. As a result, universities are unable to purchase vital journal subscriptions that help boost the quality and success of new academic research. Fortunately, new and innovative solutions are growing in popularity and have the potential to change the future of academic communication. (September 2005)
One innovative way to lower textbook costs is allowing students to rent, rather than purchase, their textbooks each semester. This document is a twelve step guide for colleges and universities interested in lowering textbook costs for students by transitioning to a textbook rental service or exploring new, innovative business models. (July 2005)
In order to both confirm our initial findings and to follow up on a number of anecdotal reports of additional problems with textbook pricing, the State PIRGs conducted an expanded survey of the most widely purchased textbooks at 59 colleges and universities across the country. (February 2005)