Letter: Students Need Affordable Textbooks

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Affordable textbooks are the needle in the haystack for college students. The price of college has increased at 260 percent the rate of inflation since 1980, and the price of textbooks has increased 800 percent in the last 30 years.

Penny-pinching is a necessity for almost all students, but skipping out on a daily coffee doesn’t save enough money to buy a textbook, let alone five. A textbook for an introductory college course costs over $200 for a new copy. An expensive textbook can be the breaking point that stops students from being able to pass a class or complete their educational journey.

The best solution is open textbooks. Sites like www.opentextbookalliance.com are leading the way in fixing this problem. Open textbooks aren’t just more affordable—they could eliminate this broken marketplace. They are the same as any other textbook, but get published under an open license that makes them free to download for around $30 for a professionally bound version.

While the cost of textbooks may seem like nothing compared to the $1.7 trillion in student debt, the impacts of cutting these out of pocket costs are huge. Expensive textbooks are an epidemic, and a huge factor in the loss of student participation in classes and student debt. As a student, I am trying my best to make others aware of this issue. The more people who understand and support open textbooks, the more likely academic institutions are to start utilizing them to help decrease the student debt problem.

—Helen Hogge

Helen Hogge is a student intern for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.


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