Tuition Should Include Textbook Costs


Class required materials, like textbooks, should be included in the tuition for which students are being charged. (Courtesy of Nicoleta Papavasilakis/The Fordham Ram)

With the new school year getting back into swing, students are once again being burdened with a list of new books to buy for their classes, with some books costing hundreds of dollars. With the typical Fordham freshman student taking five classes, required materials for all of these classes can be extremely expensive. Students and their families are already paying a high price for a quality education at a private institution like Fordham. Class required materials, like textbooks, should be included in the tuition for which they are being charged.

College textbooks cost an estimated average of $105; add to that the online homework platforms that students need to purchase in order to do homework, as well as smaller books for classes, the price becomes ridiculous. The average college student pays more than $1000 in one school year on course materials alone, according to Education Data. In my personal experience, I paid $100 this year to rent just one textbook for the semester. Students should not be responsible for materials of such high costs. Textbook prices at colleges around the country have increased by 88% from 2006 to 2016 according to Teen Vogue. 

Here at Fordham, we received news that our tuition would be raised by 4% this academic year, yet we also seem to have increased prices for our required learning materials year by year. There are many possible reasons for the price increase. It could be related to general economic inflation over time, or the fact that prices were already out of reach for many, causing people to turn to used or counterfeit options and decrease profits for the publishers and writers behind these books. Either way, the price increase over time is almost impossible to keep up with on top of tuition increases. If the school is not willing to include these prices in tuition, then at the very least, the required textbooks for our classes need to be at lower prices. 

Of course it’s not the professors’ fault that they need to teach material from certain textbooks, and they don’t control the prices. Because of that, a lot of professors here at Fordham are very understanding of the costs that their students have to pay. I’ve had teachers who upload pdfs of reading material online for us to use as a free resource, and others encourage students to try to find online versions of the readings. However, this pattern of providing free readings and materials is usually found in liberal arts classes. Students who take math and science classes, which almost always require a physical textbook, are at a disadvantage when trying to find cheaper alternatives. 

There are free online options for some required texts, and it is possible to find used books on eBay or Amazon for a cheaper price. However, finding the exact book you need is difficult. Students should not have to struggle to find affordable versions of class requirements because books are so expensive. Some students simply cannot afford to pay the high prices that are charged at the bookstore. Not including textbook costs in tuition directly affects the academics of students. If they’re not able to afford what they need from the bookstore, and can’t find a cheaper alternative elsewhere, getting the education they paid for feels like a hopeless task. 

Textbooks are not the only out of pocket cost that students have to think of at college, especially here in New York. The cost of living is increasing exponentially. The cost of groceries, public transportation, outings with friends, etc. are all things that students need to save their money for. In order to live independently and take advantage of their New York college experience, students need to spend money on things other than textbooks. So when they are already paying a high price for their education, they shouldn’t have to worry about the hundreds of dollars they’re going to need to spend for their required textbooks.  

Without financial aid, a Fordham education costs upwards of $70,000. I find it hard to believe there is no room for the high price of Fordham tuition to cover required materials for students. Fordham is not the only school to which this applies. Countless universities across the country run the same way, and students everywhere are burdened with the cost of expensive textbooks. In fact, only two universities (Thomas More College in Kentucky and Schreiner University in Texas) include their students’ textbook costs in their tuition, according to PUPN magazine. 

Including costs of textbooks in tuition is only fair and just for students who are already paying so much for an education. 

Grace Campbell, FCRH ‘25, is a new media and digital design major from Northborough, M.A.