FlatWorld’s survey of more than 300 college students during the fall 2018 semester reveals how textbook prices affect learning experiences

BOSTON, October 25, 2018 — FlatWorld, a publisher of college learning materials that are both affordable and high-quality, today published its study of how college textbook costs affect students’ educational experience. FlatWorld’s analysis of survey responses from 330 undergraduate students reveals how college textbook prices affect everything from whether students rate professors positively or negatively, to their course selection decisions.

“Students are keenly aware of the exorbitant costs of textbooks today, and are showing through their actions that they want professors and university administrators to do more to make learning materials affordable,” commented Alastair Adam, CEO of FlatWorld. “Our findings make clear that textbook prices impact what classes students choose to take, as well as how they rate their professors.”

The survey was taken by undergraduate students that are enrolled in classes during the fall 2018 semester. 334 responses were collected from October 9-12, 2018 through SurveyMonkey. Key findings included:

  • Textbook prices affect class enrollment — One third of respondents reported that textbook prices have impacted their decision on whether to take a class.
  • Professor ratings suffer if textbooks are too expensive — More than 70 percent of respondents reported rating, or been asked to rate, their professors in the last 12 months. For textbooks priced between $100 and $200, more than half of respondents (55 percent) reported that the textbook price has a negative effect on how they rate professors. For textbooks priced above $200, more than 70 percent of respondents reported that the textbook price has a negative effect on how they rate professors.
  • Professor ratings could benefit from cheap or free textbooks — For textbooks that cost less than $30, more than 50 percent of respondents reported that the textbook price has a positive effect on how they rate their professors.
  • Homework is often a hidden cost for students — Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) reported having to pay for access to a homework system, in addition to their textbooks.
  • The amount students spend on textbooks varies greatly — Respondents reported spending $403 on average for textbooks during the fall 2018 semester. 24 percent of respondents paid less than $250, 55 percent paid between $250 and $600, and 21 percent paid more than $600.
  • Students are using loan money to pay for textbooks — When asked how they paid for their textbooks, 15 percent of respondents reported using student loan money. For the students surveyed who spent more than $600 on textbooks, 25 percent reported using student loan money.

“In an era of rising interest rates, it’s troubling to see a significant percentage of students turn to loans to pay for their textbooks,” said Adam. “It is equally troubling to see the actions students take when faced with a class that assigns an expensive textbook, from giving professors less positive ratings to choosing to not take a class that they might have otherwise.”

“Another point of note is the percentage of respondents who reported having to pay for homework systems. When you consider that many professors still simply print homework assignments, it’s surprising to see that about 50 percent of respondents had to pay for a homework system in addition to their textbooks,” he added.

To view FlatWorld’s survey report, click here.

About FlatWorld
FlatWorld publishes the most affordable high-quality learning materials, including both digital and print textbooks, and a robust homework platform. FlatWorld’s rapidly growing catalog features more than 135 titles, and the majority of FlatWorld’s textbooks cost between $24.95 and $29.95 for digital access. More than 4,000 professors at universities across the U.S. have adopted a FlatWorld textbook. To learn more, visit www.flatworld.com.