Drop In Student Spending on College Course Materials Continues

Average student spending on college textbooks and course materials continued to decline during the fall semester of 2020, dropping 7% compared to the same term last year, according to a preview of an upcoming report from independent research firm Student Monitor. The full report is due in December. According to the firm, average student spending on course materials was $186 for the Fall 2020 semester, a decline of 7% when compared to the Fall 2019 spending of $199. The decline was primarily the result of a shift in spending from print textbooks to lower-cost e-textbooks, including subscription models. At the same time, the number of units purchased or rented increased by 3%, including a 23% increase in spending on e-textbooks. The findings reflect a multi-year trend of declining student spending on course materials, which was reflected in the College Board’s October release of Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2020.

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