Most families would like to see their kids go to college. However, the cost of a degree is high, and it’s not just the tuition that adds up to big money. Other costs must be dealt with, like food and board, as well as books. The College Board says the average student spends more than $1,200 on college books and supplies. That can be much more for certain majors.
Research showed that 94 percent of students who didn’t have the textbooks that were prescribed for the course felt that their academic progress was impeded. It’s no wonder student debt is at an all-time high with the average graduate owing over $37,000. That’s an increase of $20,000 from 13 years ago. 70 percent of graduates leave college with serious debt.
Each year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation publishes a letter about the important trends they see as worth the world’s attention. The 2019 letter highlighted a fact long known by college teachers—textbooks no longer serve their purpose and are a financial and academic burden on students.
There is some good news on this front.  It is now possible to rent certain college textbooks digitally, which significantly lowers the cost. A book that costs over $277 to buy in hardcover can now be rented for between $40 and $80. There are also ways to purchase used college textbooks from students who have completed the class and no longer have a use for them.
With the way technology is going, it doesn’t seem like you will need a real hardcover textbook for much longer. It makes far more sense to use a digital copy on your computer, tablet, or even on your smartphone. It isn’t just your bank balance that will be better off either. Studies show that 80 percent of college students end up with neck and/or back pain or strain from carrying heavy books. Switching to digital versions isn’t just cheaper, it seems like it may actually be healthier too.
Figuring out ways to save money and live better is always a good idea, and technology is changing our lives in ways we never could have imagined. Perhaps one day we will be able to just download knowledge into our brains the way they did in The Matrix, but for now, we will have to settle for electronic versions of textbooks, and that is still a significant change.
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