Increased Competition, New Options Means College Students Are Paying Less For Course Materials

Students are spending less on college course materials even though they are still buying the same amount of textbooks and other items. [Source: NACS]

Students are spending less on college course materials even though they are still buying the same amount of textbooks and other items. [Source: NACS]

Once upon a time, most college students had very few choices when it came to the textbooks and other course materials they were required to buy each semester: Pricey new books or not-quite-as-pricey used copies, and most of these were gone quickly. But now there are multiple online competitors for buying, renting, and reselling these materials and a new survey shows that students are paying a lot less.

According to the National Association of College Stores, spending on course materials for the 2014-15 academic year averaged $563. That’s down more than $100 in the last five years, even though the amount of materials being acquired has remained virtually the same.

More students are renting course materials, according to the survey, which found that 40% of students had rented at least one item, with rented materials accounting for 32% of all acquired books, up from only 19% in the 2013-14 academic year.

Digital course materials, usually in the form of e-books, are also providing lower-cost options. Though the majority of students still prefer printed course materials, those that go digital save an average of $43, says NACS.

Campus stores remain the most popular option for students, accounting for 2/3 of all purchased materials, and just shy of half all rented course materials. But competition from Amazon, Chegg, and others appear to be giving students lower-cost options than they had only a few years ago.

[via Cleveland.com]