BOSTON, Mass. (August 26, 2010) — Students across the country are gearing up for sticker shock over textbook prices this semester. The average student spends $900 per year on textbooks, and new calculations by Alpha PIRG Students show that costs have increased at an astounding rate: textbook wholesale prices have risen more than four times the rate of inflation over the last two decades (1990-2009).
A groundbreaking federal law designed to tackle the rapidly rising cost of textbooks has kicked in just in time to impact college students this fall. The law, which was part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) passed by Congress in 2008, is considered the first major federal action on this issue.
A new report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms previous research conducted by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) into textbook prices. The GAO report, requested by Congressman David Wu last year, found that textbook prices have risen at twice the rate of annual inflation over the last two decades, an average of 6 percent each year since 1987-1988, compared with overall price increases of 3 percent per year.
Making Washington the first state to act in 2007 on the growing problem of college textbook prices, Governor Christine Gregoire signed a landmark measure this morning that will help lower the cost of textbooks for Washington college students. The law requires textbook publishing companies to disclose prices and change-of-edition information when marketing course materials to faculty in the state of Washington.