Student Voice


April 23, 2024



Student spending on course materials declines nationwide

December 15, 2022

At universities across the United States, there has been a 48% decline in student spending on course materials over the last ten years. The average spent on course materials is now $340 per student per semester, which is a 26% decrease from last year’s $459 per student.

One reason that student spending has decreased is because the affordability of course materials has increased. One component of this increase in affordability is the expansion of course materials into the digital domain, a change that has accelerated due to the pandemic.

“Being able to have that quality piece go up with the digital transition as well as affordability and those prices come down is a really great thing,” said Sarah Crozier, the Senior Director of Communications at the Association of American Publishers.

“People appreciate choice, they appreciate convenience, [and] they appreciate portability, which obviously made a place for digital,” said Laura Knox, the Director of Education Policy and Programs at W.W Norton. Another factor that has made course materials more affordable for students is Inclusive Access, which is a digital program that provides students with course materials at the lowest market price available.

“It’s essentially student-required materials delivered on the first day via their learning management system,” said Knox. “These are materials thoughtfully selected by the instructor that they have selected for their course to set their students up for success.”

Students at UW-River Falls have a textbook rental fee included in their tuition that allows them to get textbooks from Textbook Services, which is located in Chalmer Davee Library here on campus. This helps students here to save money on textbooks, as it is significantly less than the current $340 the average student spends on books.

Students have many choices right now when it comes to course materials, and, based on the way that things are going, there will likely be new ways in the future for students to access the content that they need for their classes at more affordable prices.