Every year students begin their journey at universities across the United States. They are aware of the tuition and housing costs, but many students are unprepared when they see the price of the REQUIRED textbooks.

Welcome to
Hidden Costs
What are the Costs?

The cost of nearly every college expense has risen since 2006, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started their study.The highest rise in cost has been in textbooks, which has risen steadily every year but 2008. This is mostly due to the housing bubble burst as the light blue line suggests.

In fact Textbooks have been the highest cost, based on the consumer price index!

See for yourself


You will see as you click through the years that textbooks have been the highest cost since the study started.The next highest rise in cost has consistently been college tuition. Keep in mind that these charts are showing the rise in cost not the actual cost. Tuition expenses far outweigh those of textbooks.

Check out these numbers

The Book Down

Many students would love to buy their textbooks if they weren't so expensive. According to Lead Winds, students want hard copies over electronic copies of their textbooks. “I can actually learn the material with a hard copy of a text book,” says Joshua Hiler, Texas State Nursing Student. “I can write notes in the margin and refer back to then when I am studying.”
Information found at Lead Winds

  • Of students say at they would prefer a print textbook over a digital textbook if cost was not a factor
  • Of students buy used textbooks

  • Of students buy new textbooks

  • Of students said that if a print copy of a textbook was affordably priced, they would purchase it even if the digital version was free.

In The News

NBC News reports on the rising cost of college textbooks and how students are affected.

What Are Students Saying?


Students are forced to make the decision about whether or not to purchase textbooks based on their financail situation. Their decisions sometimes lead to consequences that do not set them up for success in the long run. Many students struggle to afford nutritious food and even shelter after paying for their textbooks.

A portrait of Mitchel Coker

Mitchell Coker

"Because of the cost of my textbooks, I could only afford ramen noodles to eat for the semester."

A portrait of Ron Aranaydo

Ron Aranaydo

"The high cost of textbooks made me not want to buy them, so I didn't. My grades suffered as a result. Now, I work at the dining hall full time."

A portrait of Andrew Tkacs

Andrew Tkacs

"I bought every textbook for every class and didn't even use them. I could have used the money to pay rent."

The Hard Numbers

Information from Bureau of Labor Statistics

Through the years college has become more expensive in all the ways possible. Students have been forced to decide between living comfortably and being able to afford textbooks. These decisions have affected their lives and their finances. Below is a year by year and month to month breakdown of the costs associated with education. Please take note that the numbers to not reflect the actual price of textbooks, tuition, child care costs etc., but are indicative of the rise in price based on the Consumer Price Index.

MonthCollege TuitionElementary School CostsChild Care CostsTechnical and Business School TuitionHousingTextbook Costs