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College textbooks: Costs have increased over 1,000% since 1977

I thought the prices of college textbooks were nuts back when I was in school; now that my daughter is there they’re preposterous.

That’s because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, textbook prices have increased a whopping 1,041% since 1977 — three times the inflation rate over the same time period.

“A student at a public college is estimated to need $1,225 for textbooks this year,” reports Education News.org

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But, as prices have risen, so have the means by which to save money:

… a spokesperson from the National Association of College Stores, Laura Massie, reports that actual spending has decreased because students have become “savvier shoppers” in the past two decades. In 2014, the real average was $638 compared to $700 in 1998, reports Christine DiGangi of Credit.com.

The traditional method of saving money is to sell used textbooks to other students or back to the school store. However, internet technology is making saving money on textbooks easier. Students have the option to rent textbooks through sites like Chegg or TextbookRush and mail them back at the end of the semester or to buy cheaper digital versions of the books. According to Bob Popken of MSNBC, there’s also another option — you can get a $2,500 textbook and course material tax credit via IRS form 8863.

My daughter takes advantage of e-books and online rentals, but also researches whether “required” textbooks are actually needed for her courses.

How many of you had bought “required” texts and ended up not using them at all? For me, there was nothing more infuriating.

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About the Author
Assistant Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over a decade, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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