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Course Affordability and Course Materials at Union College

Library, Bookstore, and Open Resources

How Students Adjust to Rising Course Costs

The cost of course materials is increasing, and students are directly affected. Students report using a variety of strategies to lower the cost of their courses. These include finding PDFs online (and circumventing copyright), sharing textbooks, and electing not to purchase needed course materials. This is consistent with national trends.

Why Are Course Material Costs a Problem?

The high cost of course materials--textbooks, books, access codes, online quizzes / tests, etc.--are a financial barrier to education.

Textbook costs have risen four times faster than the rate of inflation over the past 10 years:

Chart Showing Increase in Textbook Prices, 1980-2012

David Ernst's "Increase in Textbook Prices" slide is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Union students will spend $2,000 on books and personal expenses during the 2021-2022 year (Union College Office of Financial Aid)

  • 53-55% of Union students receive need-based financial aid (2020-21) (Union College Office of Financial Aid)

  • 65% of college students skipped buying a textbook because of costs in 2020 (U.S. PIRG)