College students are no strangers to budgeting. When it comes to balancing grocery shopping, weekends out socializing and, in some cases, rent, there’s usually not any room to spend money on anything else. However, more and more college students are finding themselves having to cut into certain aspects of their budgets just to afford textbooks.
The cost of college textbooks has risen 1,041 percent since 1977, according to an NBC News article published in 2015. A single textbook can cost anywhere between $20-$300, and when most students find themselves enrolled in three to five classes a semester, it all begins to add up.
Keene State College junior Megan Weltler is no stranger to this struggle.
“There have definitely been times where I’ve had to choose buying my textbooks or buying groceries for that week,” Weltler said. “As an independent student who does not receive any financial help from my parents, this creates a very stressful situation and I’ve found that I have to buy my books at different times so I can ration my money out properly to be able to afford both.”
At the end of the semester, Weltler said she can’t even count on returning her textbooks.
“I’ve definitely experienced troubles every single semester when it comes to book buy-back time. I’ll get denied because either the school has too many copies and won’t buy anymore, or I will get such a small fraction of what I paid for that it’s not even worth it to sell them back.”
Alternatives to buying textbooks are no help, according to Weltler, who said, “The price to even rent textbooks is sickening.”
KSC senior Danielle Croteau said that a decent number of her professors at KSC have been sympathetic to the overwhelmingly high cost of textbooks required for their class.
“Textbooks have never been optional for any of my classes, but professors will [opt not to] have one if they feel it’s too expensive and just scan materials to give through Canvas,” Croteau said.
Croteau said she used to get her textbooks from Barnes & Noble because the price was a little more manageable.
“Recently, I’ve kind of given up and just buy from the [KSC] Bookstore,” Croteau said. “I haven’t attempted to sell them back yet, but what I’ve heard is that you don’t even get half your money back. It’s unfortunate.”
KSC junior Chris Oblon spent nearly $300 on textbooks this semester alone.
“[$300] is rather expensive for a thing I spend more time using to prop up my slightly off-level armchair than actually reading,” Oblon said.
Upon buying textbooks, Oblon said, “I can’t help but think of all the things that money could have gone to, like a new armchair or 10 new legs for the armchair I already have.”
Oblon said more often than not, he buys his textbooks from the on-campus bookstore because the purchase is quick and easy, but selling them back at the end of the semester? Not so much.
“Buying and selling textbooks is the biggest rip-off since hotel minibars; never before have I seen something charge so much for so little in return,” Oblon said, adding that at the end of the semester, he can really only count on getting about $5 back from the initial $300 he spent.
When it comes to the inflation of textbook prices, Oblon can’t wrap his head around it.
“I just don’t understand how we can live in this technological wonderland where all the information you could ever want is just a Google search away and still need to buy expensive textbooks,” Oblon said. “Books of any kind have no business being $100 or more, and if they must be, at least let people sell it back for a similar price.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org