10:30 PM

New Data Finds College Students Spend Just $67 per Course Material

by Amanda Straub, Special Assistant for Policy, Higher Education

The National Association for College Stores (NACS) has just released new data further supporting that student spending on course materials is actually decreasing and that students still place high value on textbooks.

In its newly updated Student Watch survey, NACS finds that students spent an average of just $67 per textbook. Overall spending for course materials for the 2015/2016 academic year was $602*, a 14% decrease from the $701 figure from 2007/2008.

Much like the College Board, the full NACS report also takes into account student spending on technology (things like laptops, USB drives and software) and supply purchases. In 2015/2016, students spent an average of $1,186 on course materials and supplies. This figure closely coincides with the College Board’s $1,200 figure, which is often used out of context.

Looking to gauge students’ perceived value of investment in their textbooks, NACS found that the majority of students (79%) believed their materials were a somewhat good or very good investment. Students who had high perceived value of textbooks used their books more often to study or complete projects. The majority of students also used their materials for reading assignments (95%) and to do homework (93%).

NACS also compared how much students would be willing to pay for a single course material vs. the average price tag of a textbook. Interestingly, students surveyed in the Spring 2016 study were willing to pay $165 but the most expensive textbook actually purchased was $145 – a 12% difference. The fact that students were willing to pay more shows that they place a high value on their course materials.

Read more about the NACS Student Watch report.

*Note: According to NACS, total spending for the 2015-2016 academic year was weighted by campus type to more accurately reflect the proportion of students enrolled at two- and four-year U.S. institutions. The unweighted total spending average is $559.*