Textbook prices have increased almost 200% over the past 20 years, even when controlling for an overall inflation rate of 55%. With students expected to pay on average over $1,200 annually for books and supplies,some commercial textbook publishers have effectively priced textbooks out of reach for many college students.
The cost of textbooks impacts student academic behaviors, and not having access to required materials can compromise student success. Responses to a 2018 statewide survey (n=21,000) indicate that 64.2% of Florida higher education students have not purchased a required textbook due to cost. Further, 42.8% have taken fewer courses, 40.5% have not registered for a specific course, and 35.6% attributed earning a poor grade to textbook cost.
It’s not surprising that these same students reported trying to reduce their textbook costs through a variety of means. The most-used cost saving strategy is to purchase books from a source other than the campus bookstore, followed by buying used copies or renting textbooks from the bookstore.
According to the 2018 Babson survey on open educational resources, faculty believe that the high cost of course materials is having a negative impact on student access. Legislators have likewise responded and textbook affordability measures are now mandated for all Florida state universities and colleges. The Florida statute that addresses textbook costs requires that textbooks be posted a minimum of 45 days prior to the start of classes and that a report on textbook cost variance at the institution be submitted annually. At the same time, the legislature recognizes the faculty’s right to academic freedom. Language within Article 5.2 of the 2015-2018 BOT-UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement further describes how academic freedom can apply to teaching and instructional materials:
“Consistent with the exercise of academic responsibility, employees shall have freedom to present and discuss their own academic subjects, frankly and forthrightly, without fear of censorship, and to select instructional materials and determine grades in accordance with University policies.”
While recognizing that they retain responsibility for selecting quality instructional materials, many faculty also are growing increasingly concerned about the cost of commercially published textbooks while others have expressed frustration with how their textbooks cover some material or how new editions are churned out too quickly in subject areas that change little over time. Taking these factors into consideration, many faculty are exploring ways to reduce textbook costs and “expand the discussion” by adding new voices and viewpoints to course readings.
Textbook Affordability provides solutions to the rising cost of course materials, in turn positively impacting student success.
Contact us today to see if we can find affordable options for your course materials.