New CFO Survey Highlights the Negative Impact Textbook Prices are Having on Student Success

43% of respondents report that high course material costs are having a significant impact on student retention, persistence and completion at their institutions.

New CFO Survey Highlights the Negative Impact Textbook Prices are Having on Student Success

Addressing textbook affordability continues to be a key challenge for colleges and universities across the nation. The high cost of course materials affect not only where students choose to shop for their textbooks and course materials, but if they purchase required materials at all — ultimately, affecting students’ preparedness and overall academic performance.

A recent survey conducted by Akademos revealed that 42% of students did not purchase a required textbook for at least one of their classes in 2017, compared to 34% in 2015 (an 8 point increase). This shows that the number of students fully prepared for all of their classes is on a steady decline.As to why student preparedness has been decreasing over time, according to 83% of survey respondents, high prices continue to be the number one reason why students choose to shop elsewhere for course materials or forego purchasing at all. These data points highlight the correlation between the high cost of textbooks and their impact on student preparedness, and consequently, overall academic success. The more expensive the book, the less likely students are to actually buy it and the less likely they are to be prepared for class.

In fact, nearly half of CFO Survey participants confirmed that textbook costs have an impact on student retention, persistence and completion – with 43% of them indicating that course material prices “very much” affect student success in 2017, versus only 32% in 2013. This 11 point increase in only 4 years shows that the number of business leaders identifying the negative impact textbook prices are having on student academic success is only growing.

Institutional leaders need to take actionable steps to address the key factors impacting student purchasing patterns (or lack thereof) in order to drive student performance. The good news is that many institutions have implemented strategies that have made a positive impact in addressing this challenge, including:

  1. Significantly enhancing their bookstore website to offer students more low-cost course material options (used, rental, digital formats).
  2. Implementing a peer-to-peer online marketplace to more effectively compete with Amazon and other unaffiliated 3rd party websites.
  3. Promoting and supporting cost-conscious adoptions through improved adoption tools that allow faculty to compare prices, choose OER and digital materials, and create CoursePacks.
  4. Enabling students to sell back their books via online buyback so that they can get more money versus traditional on-campus offerings and, in effect, lower their overall cost of ownership.

Learn more about how these proven strategies can help your institution lower textbook costs and drive academic success. For additional data and insight, the 2017 College CFO Survey on Course Materials & Bookstore Services White Paper is available to you at no cost.

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Textbook Affordability Resources