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Does the High Cost of College Text Books Make Sense?


Not only has the cost of college tuition increased through the years, but between the years 2002 and 2012, the cost of college textbooks alone have increased 82 percent. While the cost of a higher education has never been cheap, when you consider the resources and alternatives that are now available, expensive text books may not make much sense.


(Photo Credit: Abhi Sharma/Flickr)

A college education has never been inexpensive – the cost alone is often the primary decision maker in choosing which college you attend or whether or not you even attend college. Of the top-rated colleges providing the highest return on investment, the costs to attend (including tuition, room and board, and books and supplies), ranged from $92,000 to $250,000. Granted, there aren’t many ways to get around some of these expenses and many of us just accept that part of life which is working multiple jobs and living on the Top Ramen diet, until it’s over.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

However, one has to wonder if the increasing cost of college textbooks is one of the few expenses that falls into the “necessary” column or if it is really as exorbitant and unnecessary as it seems. According to the College Board, students now spend as much as $1,200 per year just on textbooks. This expense sometimes results in students deciding to take classes based on the price of the books or taking classes without purchasing the books, which at the least, can be a bit risky if you really expect a complete education.

In the 2014 PayScale College ROI Report, many of the more expensive degrees tend to be STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degrees. While those schools also often provide the highest return on investment for the education provided, it seems that expensive textbooks may be an unnecessary expense – especially when alternatives such as online textbook substitutes and supplements for older textbooks that need updates (rather than reprinting a whole new, more expensive book) are so freely available.

Tell Us What You Think

Is the high cost of college textbooks reasonable? What is the most you have paid for a college book? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Christina Majaski
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