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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college textbook prices have increased faster than tuition, health care costs and housing prices, all of which have risen faster than inflation. Textbook prices have actually risen three times the inflation rate in the past 10 years.

OER textbooks
Figure 1 Average cost per text book

In January 2014, the Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) reported their findings from a survey of more than 2,000 students from 150 colleges and universities across the U.S., including in Maryland. Their findings were similar to the Florida study in that “64% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.” Of those students, 94% also responded that they knew not having a textbook would hurt their grade but they decided not to purchase the textbook anyway.

The PIRG study also stated that “Nearly half of all students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester.” Most of the survey participants (82%) indicated that they “would do significantly better in a course if the textbook was available free online and buying a hard copy was optional.”