After Senators and members of Congress returned from August recess, students and student advocates were hopeful that both chambers had hammered out a new and final policy to help solve the problem of deep student loan debt. The process unfolded quickly – within two days, the House and Senate Education committees pulled together a joint press event with the Student PIRGs and coalition partners to announce final passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007.
In the spring of 2005, Congress cut the student loan program by $12 billion dollars, forcing interest rates on loans to go higher and making college dangerously expensive. Students at UConn and at hundreds of campuses across the country fought the cuts, but we lost narrowly
A new report, released today by The Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign, presents new case studies of how the college textbook publishing industry deliberately undermines the used book market and inflates prices. Based upon surveys and interviews of bookstore managers and university faculty across the country, the report – “Required Reading: A Look at the Worst Publishing Tactics at Work” – identifies specific textbooks that employ types of publishing tactics, and illustrates how they inflate the cost of textbooks for students.
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)
A new report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms previous research conducted by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) into textbook prices. The GAO report, requested by Congressman David Wu last year, found that textbook prices have risen at twice the rate of annual inflation over the last two decades, an average of 6 percent each year since 1987-1988, compared with overall price increases of 3 percent per year.
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)
As a prominent publisher continues to issue “new” editions of textbooks that are not significantly “new”, hundreds of college physics and mathematics professors issued a joint call to action. The call to action was sparked by the latest research from the Student PIRGs that found that new textbook revisions reduce the availability of used books, which are 45% cheaper than new books.
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)
College textbook prices have increased at nearly four times the rate of inflation for all finished goods since 1994 and textbook publishers engage in practices that artificially inflate textbook costs, according to a new study by the Student PIRGs. With textbook costs already high – an average of $900 a year, or a fifth of tuition at a public four year university – the Student PIRGs called on publishers to stop needlessly inflating textbook costs.