Textbook Costs and Opportunity Lost

What price-driven decisions are costing students

Research has shown a positive correlation between access to course materials and completion rates and grades.1–5 And yet, one survey of more than 22,000 college students found, as many as

64% of students opt out of buying required course materials for the first day of class.

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As the survey uncovered, the decisions students make in light of the price of textbooks may cost them opportunity in the long run:6


of students

report taking fewer courses per semester


of students

report not registering for a course


of students

report failing a course


of students

report dropping a course

  1. Feldstein, A., Martin, M., Hudson, A., Warren, K., Hilton III, J., & Wiley, D. (2012). Open textbooks and increased student access and outcomes. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning.
  2. Fischer, Lane, et al. “A multi-institutional study of the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students.“ Journal of Computing in Higher Education 27.3 (2015): 159-172.
  3. Hilton III, J. L., & Laman, C. (2012). One college’s use of an open psychology textbook. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 27(3), 265–272.
  4. Paulsen, M. B., & St John, E. P. (2002). Social class and college costs: Examining the financial nexus between college choice and persistence. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(2), 189–236.
  5. Pawlyshyn, N., Braddlee, D., Casper, L., & Miller, H. (2013). Adopting OER: A case study of cross-institutional collaboration and innovation.
  6. Florida Virtual Campus. (2012). 2012 Florida Student Textbook Survey. Tallahassee, FL.

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