SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich is calling on the Illinois Board of Higher Education to immediately investigate why Illinois college students are forced to pay outrageous amounts of money for their required reading. College textbooks are significantly more expensive than regular books. Recent studies have also shown that many students across the country are paying more than $900 a year on college textbooks.
“Why are students and their parents being slapped with enormous book bills when the tab for pleasure reading is 17 percent cheaper? This sticker shock has got to end because, if these prices keep rising, our students are going to be forced out of the classroom. College is the time for our young people to explore those subjects that spark their interest, but that journey could come to a screeching halt due to what looks like price gouging. Illinois already has done its part to make college more affordable. Through legislation I signed last July, tuition will be fixed for all students entering our nine public universities this fall. The battle over these books has just begun,” Governor Blagojevich said.
Under terms of House Bill 1118, beginning with the 2004-05 school year, first-year Illinois students at each of the state’s nine public universities will have their annual tuition fixed at the same rate for four continuous academic years or longer if their selected degree program requires additional years.
According to the National Association of College Stores, the wholesale price of a college textbook has gone up 35 percent since 1998, which is 17 percent more than an ordinary book over the same period. The wholesale price is the cost set by textbook publishers and does not represent an increase by college bookstores. The average annual increase over that period was 5.9 percent for college texts, compared to an average annual increase of 3.1 percent for other books.
A recent report by the California Student Public Interest Research Group (calpirg.org) highlighted a number of ways publishers are driving up the cost of textbooks, including adding additional materials that most faculty don’t require while not giving students the option to buy the books without the bundled materials and by frequently putting new editions of textbooks on the market with few changes but a higher price tag.