Your Semester's Financial Stressor: Buying Course Materials

By Lorena Roberts on July 29, 2018

According to a recent press release, the price of course materials is the biggest stressor when it comes to college finances. On behalf of Cengage, a recent survey found that 85% of college students find purchasing course materials to be the biggest financial stressor in college. In comparison to other expenses, like health care, housing, and food, students are more worried about how they’ll pay for their textbooks, access codes, and other materials for their classes. Are you about to be one of these students?

via Pexels

Course materials are ridiculously expensive, so many students say they make sacrifices in order to be able to afford what they need for their classes. While some students go without food, others sign up for fewer classes at a time or change their major altogether. About one-third of college students say they don’t take trips home to visit with their family and friends because they have to pay for expensive course materials.

Students are beginning to demand more and more accessible textbook options, stating that having electronic versions of textbooks would have a positive impact on their grades. Simply having access to the material is more important to our college students than actually owning the textbooks. For this reason, students spend a large chunk of time researching cheaper ways to get their textbooks at the beginning of the semester. Textbooks may seem like a small part of today’s college experience, but they’re actually a large part of the financial burden our college students are feeling.

When it comes to gender differences, women feel that expensive textbooks are more of a financial burden to them than men. This same Cengage survey found that female students will use scholarship money to pay for their books, take out student loans, or buy outdated versions of textbooks just to save money. A larger percentage of female college students feel that textbooks are a financial burden in comparison to men.

While the majority of college students feel that course materials and textbooks are way overpriced (87%), it’s part of the college experience in today’s society. College tuition seems to be getting more and more expensive by the day, but so are textbooks! Most students are struggling to pay their tuition, much less get their hands on all the material they need for their courses. Cengage’s survey brings concrete data to the center of this conversation. Students are struggling to pay for college — but they are especially struggling to pay for their textbooks.

Are you worried about how you’re going to pay for your textbooks this semester? Check out Cengage’s new subscription service, where you can pay a semester fee and get access to thousands of educational materials. It’s called Cengage Unlimited. Check it out here.

Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. After some serious soul-searching, she's decided to pursue a Master's in teaching in order to teach middle school math! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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