Make Textbooks Affordable

Everyone knows that textbooks prices are outrageous. Students spend an average of $1,200 a year on textbooks and course materials, and prices have been rising more than for times the rate of inflation for the past two decades!

It’s no accident that textbooks are so expensive. Publishing companies are raking in huge profits while engaging in bad practices that drive up costs: issuing new editions that make used books hard to find, bundling textbooks with unnecessary CDs and pass-codes, and more. They get away with it because students don’t have a choice -- we’ve got to buy the book they’re selling, even if the price is outrageous.

The good news is that we're making progress. Students can save hundreds through discounted options like renting, used books and bookswaps on campus.  

The real momentum comes from lasting solutions like open-source textbooks, which could literally revolutionize the textbook market by offering free online access and reducing costs up to 80%. Open source textbooks are faculty-written and peer reviewed just like published textbooks, but they're available free online, free to download, and affordable in print.

So we're fighting to rein in costs by promoting cost-saving solutions on campus, while also tackling publishers' stranglehold on the market to change prices for good.  We're educating students, faculty and bookstores, and raising awareness through research and the media. We're also calling on publishers, colleges and foundations to give faculty the training and resources they need to adopt open-source textbooks and save students millions each year.

QUESTIONS? Contact Our National Campaign Staff here.

Issue updates

News Release | Student PIRGs | Consumer Protection, Higher Ed, Student Debt

Banks Skim Millions in Fees from Student Aid Using Debit-Card-Linked Student IDs

Washington, D.C. – Over 9 million students are at risk for increased educational debt, due to bank-affiliated student debit cards that come with high fees, insufficient consumer protections, and few options. Financial institutions now have affinity partnerships with almost 900 campuses nationwide, grafting bank products onto student IDs and other campus cards to become the primary recipient of billions in federal financial aid to distribute to students.

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The Campus Debit Card Trap

Banks and other financial firms are taking advantage of a variety of opportunities to form partnerships with colleges and universities to produce campus student ID cards and to offer student aid disbursements on debit or prepaid cards. In addition to on-campus services, such as student ID functions offered on the card, some cards offer traditional debit card services linked to bank accounts; other cards provide additional reloadable prepaid card functions. The disbursement of financial aid and university refunds is the most significant partnership identified.

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Blog Post | Textbooks

Big Day for Open Education!

Today was a big day in the movement for free and open textbooks! A conference call featuring U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, CALPIRG textbook affordability activist Arthur Karadzhyan, and other leaders kicked off two exciting new initiatives for open education: 

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Resource | Textbooks

Federal Textbook Price Disclosure Law

Summary

The HEOA, short for the Higher Education Opportunity Act, is a higher education reform bill passed by Congress in 2008.  Among the many provisions in HEOA was a set of important regulations to help make textbooks affordable, which went into effect July 1, 2010

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Resource | Textbooks

Make Textbooks Affordable: Recommendations to Faculty

Summary

Faculty are in charge of selecting textbooks, which puts them in a key position to help students save money.  Follow these guidelines to help minimize costs.

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