College students are paying less for class materials, thanks in part to the success of OpenStax – an organization that provides free textbooks and digital resources.
The nonprofit, started six years ago by Rice University (TX), serves more than 2.2 million students, according to a recent article in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Nearly half of all US colleges currently use the service, which offers 29 free textbooks for college and Advanced Placement classes.
And for the first time in five decades, average textbook costs are decreasing, according to recent data analyzed by the National Center of Education Statistics.
Scraping up enough money to purchase textbooks weighs heavily on the minds of many college students, according to staffers at New America.
The Washington, DC-based think tank convened students and parents this fall for a series of focus groups. The gatherings offered participants the opportunity to share their opinions about higher education and student success.
“Students and parents alike had a lot to say about the cost of tuition and the institutions themselves, and offered policy ideas they believed could alleviate some of the things that weren’t working,” New America staff members Ernest Ezeugo and Manuela Ekowo wrote in a recent blog post. “But when students were asked what they thought the most problematic aspects of college were, it was the cost of textbooks that most animated the room.”