UTC Students are Going Broke Due to Textbook Prices

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, TN (The Loop / UTC) – Over the past 30 years, college textbook prices have increased over 800 percent.

During this time, according to the Huffington Post, the growth of textbook prices outpaced the growth of home prices and doubled the rate of inflation. For the typical college student at a four year university, the cost of simply learning the material will reach somewhere in the tens-of-thousands by graduation. With education prices ever increasing, more and more college students are running out of money and time.

On average, a typical college textbook will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200. Multiply that number by four, the average number of classes a student takes per semester, and you’re already up to $800. This cost alone can break the bank of the typical student, but the spending is far from over. When you take into account the supplemental materials, books that may not be required but are suggested as companions, a student may be looking at $1000 in books per semester.

But where does a student’s textbook dollar go after it is spent? Many students simply do not think about this while they’re walking out of the University bookstore with empty pockets. On average, the actual book store receives a very small percentage of every dollar that is spent


According to the National Association of College Stores, around 21 cents of every dollar goes back to the campus book store. That 21 cents helps to supply the store, pay for labor, and go towards general upkeep of the facilities. Around another penny per every dollar goes towards the shipping cost associated with the book. The remaining 77 cents goes back to the publisher.

Here’s another way at looking at where you’re textbook dollar goes:

  • 21 cents / dollar is returned to better the University
  • 1 cent / dollar is used to ship the book to the student
  • 77 cents / dollar goes back to the publisher

    A typical college student will spend close to $1000 a year on textbooks.

    A typical college student will spend close to $1000 a year on textbooks.

With what the publisher receives from each dollar, they are able to pay the book’s authors, purchase the raw materials needed for book production, and also afford the general administrative costs that are encounter each year.

As a result of the increasing price of textbooks, many students are looking for alternate ways of getting the books that they need. One such method that has grown in popularity recently is the e-textbook. Available as a digital download, the e-textbook is a much cheaper option for many college students that have tablet devices and smart phones.

In addition to the rise of e-textbooks, many other companies are looking to gain the attention of frugal college students. Companies such as Cheeg  and Skyo offer textbook rentals that are available for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new textbook. Also, online stores like Amazon are offering students the option to purchase either an e-textbook or a print copy for much cheaper than the University bookstore.

Dhruv Rathod, a sophomore from Chattanooga, has been attending UTC for two years now. This past semester, Dhruv purchased all of his textbooks from the University bookstore and spent a little over $900. Only two of the books that Dhruv purchased were required texts for his classes.

“I feel like it’s a lot cheaper,” Dhruv said when talking about buying his books online. “In the past, I’ve always done that. I would say it’s a lot better [buying online] because you’re saving a whole lot of money.”

Where do you get your textbooks?

As textbook prices are rising, more and more students are looking at alternate ways of getting what they need. Many are deciding to stray away from the University store, opting for cheaper options online, while others are simply going without. If the trends continues, students in the near future will not know what it means to have a printed textbook.

One thing is for certain, however. If the price of books continues to increase, the backlash from the students will monumental. Money conscience students will find a way to get by, with or without the required materials.

Looking for cheaper books? Check out the links below:

Affordable College Textbook Act

Why pay for textbooks you don’t need?

Bookstore Buyback




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