The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund and Student PIRGs recently published a report describing the continued effects of high textbook prices on students and higher education, indicating that students may be interested in alternatives to the traditional textbook.

During the fall of 2013, Student PIRGs surveyed 2,039 students from 150 universities. The results from the survey showed that the high cost of textbooks is deterring students from purchasing their assigned materials, despite a potential negative impact on their grades. 65% of the students reported that they did not purchase a textbook because of the cost. Out of those students, 94% were concerned about the impact on their grades.

The survey showed that the high cost of textbooks has a ripple effect on students’ other academic decisions. Almost half of the students reported that the cost of textbooks impacted the number and types of classes they enrolled in each semester, which may limit the scope of their academic progress and increase the overall length of their education.

Traditional textbook alternatives, such as open access, were popular among students. 82% of the students perceived that a free online textbook (with an optional hard copy available for purchase) would have significantly improved their performance in the course.

The study concluded that the high costs of textbooks will continue to be a problem for students if textbook alternatives are not offered alongside traditional options. Open access textbooks must be adopted on a national scale if the prices of traditional textbooks remain the same or continue to increase.

If you would like to read the full report, visit:
http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/fixing-broken-textbook-market

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