Chico Affordable Learning Solutions

The Value of Zero- and Low-Cost Materials

In the past two decades both college tuition and the price of traditional college textbooks have skyrocketed - the consumer price index (CPI) indicates the rate of increase of both are beyond that of overall consumer prices, housing, and even healthcare (www.bls.gov). The yearly cost of books and supplies for full time college students is estimated to be nearly $1300 (bigfuture.collegeboard.org).

plot of rising prices of college textbooks relative to new home prices

plot of rising prices of college textbooks relative to consumper price index of all items

(https://sangabrieltutor.wordpress.com/tag/400-textbooks/)

The Florida Virtual Campus Survey (2016) reports that due to high textbook costs, students:

  • Go without the required textbook (67% of students)
  • Take fewer courses (48% of students)
  • Don’t register for a specific course
  • Drop a course
  • Withdraw from a course
  • Earn a poor grade because they could not afford to buy the textbook
  • Fail a course because they could not afford to buy the textbook

(https://mfeldstein.com/new-Florida-virtual-campus-survey-textbooks/).

At Chico State nearly 50% of students are low-income (PELL grant eligible), many have experienced food insecurity, and certainly are impacted similarly. Faculty efforts to assign quality zero-cost or low-cost resources help meet our goal of equal access to course materials for all students, and hopefully will inspire academic inquiry and improve learning in their courses.