Eighty bucks, one hundred and thirty bucks, two hundred bucks! No it’s not an auction for old baseball cards, its the cashier at the campus bookstore. The cost of college tuition and textbooks is ridiculous. No matter what class you are taking and no matter what college you attend, the cost of an education today is astronomical! It is an unavoidable cost that every student must find a way to pay for if they want to get a degree.
In the seventies, college, as well as college textbooks, were easily affordable. You could work a part time job to pay your tuition and book costs, or else work a full time summer job and be diligent with your savings so it could last you all year long. No longer are we living in a society where college is easily affordable. Since 1958, the average college tuition rate has risen at about twice the rate of inflation, staying relatively steady in the 1970’s and then constantly rising since the 1980’s.
Let’s say you graduated from a state college in four years and it cost you ten thousand dollars per semester. That is thirty thousand dollars per year. Your degree cost you 120,000 dollars. A child born today and attending the same college twenty years from now would have to pay 360,000 for the same degree if the cost of tuition continues to rise as it has for the past thirty years!
Textbooks have gone through the same type of price hike since the 1970’s. Originally textbooks were written and published by other educators from a desire to instill knowledge in others, and for a marginal profit. Since the 1970’s Textbook companies have been taken over by major corporations, ones that also manufacture and make profit off of toothpaste, and toilet paper. These people do not see the student as a student, but as a consumer. The bottom line is all that matters to the current textbook manufacturers across the country.
Whereas it would be cheaper to publish textbooks in black and white, many of them are saturated with color needlessly in order to jack up the price. New and revised editions are put out almost every year and teachers are encouraged to use these new versions as opposed to the old ones to prevent students sharing or passing textbooks on to other students. This is atrocious as these books are mandatory and there is not much that can be done by the students to reduce the cost of these books.
Oddly enough the solution to this problem is a catch 22. With the advent of the internet students can buy and sell used textbooks online through sites like amazon.com, BIGWORDS.com, and allbookstores.com. This is cheaper for the student than buying a brand new book, but is one of the main reasons that the textbooks are so high to begin with. The textbook publishers, in order to hedge against this “sharing” of books that cuts into their profits, increase the cost of the book initially, so they can maximize the amount of money they get from the first student who buys it new.
Even the bookstore on campus refused to buy back a math book that I had purchased for one hundred and eighty dollars just one week prior to trying to return it. It was still in its original packaging as I had dropped the class before opening it, and all I got was a nasty attitude and an outright refusal to do anything about it. I did not even receive a store credit for half of what I paid. I received nothing. Why should they be nice or try to help me out!? They don’t have to! They know that I will come back and buy more books, because I have to if I want my degree. I think next time I’ll try amazon.com first though.