SOUTHERN COLORADO — The cost of buying textbooks was already a challenge for college students, but the pandemic appears to be worsening the financial strain.
According to the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, 65 percent of students in the U.S. skipped buying a textbook because of the cost in 2020. The previous year, that number was 63 percent.
"The cost of textbooks can seem small compared to you know housing or tuition but because it's an unpredictable amount that you sometimes don't know until the beginning of the term, it really can become the emergency that causes students to drop a course or drop out entirely," explained Amy Hoefner, an OER Coordinator for Oregon State.
Here locally, that trend is also being seen. On Colorado College's website, it says 80 percent of it's students surveyed didn't bother to buy textbooks because of costs.
Education experts say the key is to expand access to low or no cost textbooks. There are what's called open educational resources, and they tend to be much less expensive than traditional textbooks because they have an open license.
Sometimes college faculty create them. There are also publishers like Open Stax, especially for open education resources.
The Colorado Department of Higher Education says it estimates that students spend between $900 and $1,800 for class materials, books and supplies each school year.
Colorado college and Pikes Peak Community College both offer open educational resources, and the University of Colorado in the Springs also offers a guide for their students. The bookstore at Pueblo Community College offers its own OER materials for students as well.