A win for affordability: Students are spending less on course materials in 2021-22



College students are active consumers, with the resources, interest, and access to seek out a wide variety of services and products. The average amount students spent on course materials, including textbooks and digital materials, for post-secondary programs fell 22% in the 2021-22 academic year, according to a new report from a independent research firm Student monitor. Student Monitor conducted one-on-one, one-hour on-campus interviews with 1,412 full-time, four-year undergraduate students attending 94 representative colleges and universities.

The downward spending trend continues over a decade according to the research firm, with student spending falling 44% between the 2011-12 and 2021-22 academic years.

There are several reasons for this decline in student spending. Course materials are more affordable and available than ever before, commented Eric Weil, Managing Partner, Student monitor. Additionally, “student spending has dropped 22% in the most recent year to an average of just $314, largely because students are tailoring their purchases to their individual course requirements.” and take full advantage of some of the new affordable options.

In 2021-22, the average student spent $314 on course materials; $101 for printed manuals (new); $69 for printed manuals (used); $47 for printed textbooks (rented); and $97 for electronic manuals, respectfully.

Publishers working with post-secondary institutions have struggled to focus on both affordability and quality lately. Kelly Denson, Vice President, Education Policy and Programs, AAP, said that “Even though student spending on course materials has declined over the past decade – down a substantial 44% – publishers have significantly expanded their offerings, providing high-quality content and tutorials in delivery models like Access included, and print rental in addition to other formats such as digital, loose-leaf printing, custom solutions, and individual learning applications. The result gives teachers and students the freedom and flexibility to choose the materials that work best for them. »


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