Higher ed faculty members carefully select course materials to enrich student learning and ensure students are poised to succeed in their classes. However, the choice whether to purchase those materials at most institutions is left up to the student. Why is that?
The price of college tuition has doubled over the past 30 years. Institutions are wary of adding additional fees to their tuition bills that appear to further increase student costs. Unfortunately, the cost of learning materials has also seen a drastic increase—82 percent over the past 10 years. Both the used textbook resellers market and rental textbook programs reduced the number of new titles sold. Publishers were forced to maximize the price of new textbooks to adapt to the new economic reality.
Due to financial strain, many students choose to delay or even forgo purchasing their “required” course materials.
When the cost of digital course materials is included in tuition, students can save more than 60 percent on average—at least $800 per year. This course-fee model also ensures more students have access to all texts for all of their classes, greatly increasing their potential to do well academically.
More than 400 institutions in the United States have implemented this model through VitalSource®, saving their students $100,000,00 last year—an average of $60 per title.
To learn more about the economics behind the rise in cost of learning materials, and the simple, digital-based solution to reduce student costs and support universal access to course materials, read my position paper, “What would happen if learning materials were provided to all students on or before the first day of class?”
Dr. Mike Hale is Vice President, Education, North America at VitalSource