May 26, 2022

A National Student Group Publishes Report on Textbook Costs

From Student PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

2016-02-08_14-17-42Over the last decade, the price of college textbooks has soared. Since 2006, the cost of a college textbook increased by 73% – over four times the rate of inflation. Today, individual textbooks often cost over $200, sometimes as high as $400.


“For many students, high textbook prices mean a lose-lose choice – and as long as the market is controlled by a handful of publishing giants that profit off the backs of students, it’ll stay that way,” said Ethan Senack, Higher Education Advocate at the Student PIRGs and main author of the report.

That’s why, more than a decade ago, the Student PIRGs launched our campaign for textbook affordability to call attention to high prices and to highlight potential solutions to the problem.

However, no research to date — including our own — has attempted to investigate the degree at which prices actually affect student’s financial standing and behavior. This report aims to fill that gap, and make the case for urgent action around high textbook prices.

Key Findings from the Report:

Almost one-third (30%) of students replied that they had used financial aid to pay for their textbooks

For those that used financial aid, the amount of financial aid dollars they put toward purchasing textbooks was more than $300 on average per semeste

Textbook prices disproportionately impact community college students: 50% of students report using financial aid for books at community colleges, compared to 28% at 4 year public schools. And, on average, community college students use more financial aid than their peers at 4 year schools.

Read the Complete Media Release

Direct to Full Text Report (24 pages; PDF)
“The report is based is based on a survey of nearly 5,000 students from 132 institutions.”

See Also: Students, Librarians Urge Professors to Use Free, Online Textbooks (via The Seattle Times)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.