Press Center > VitalSource Survey: Due to High Cost of College, Students Skip Purchasing Course Materials; Grades Suffer as a Result

October 10, 2016

VitalSource Survey: Due to High Cost of College, Students Skip Purchasing Course Materials; Grades Suffer as a Result


August 15, 2016

Students Want Option to Pay for Course Materials with Tuition to Ensure Lowest Cost

Raleigh, NC. – August 15, 2016 – According to a new survey by Wakefield Research for VitalSource®, the high cost of college, including textbooks, is causing students to wait to purchase required course materials until after the beginning of classes or not at all, even though many know it affects their ability to succeed academically. Over 500 students were surveyed and overwhelmingly cite costs as the driving factor in that decision.

"As the cost of college continues to rise, we are seeing students make hard choices to make higher education attainable," said Pep Carrera, Chief Operating Officer of VitalSource. "Sometimes that means not having access to all the tools and materials they need. Unfortunately, the research shows it is coming at a cost to student success."

Putting Off Purchases and Negative Effects on Grades
According to the survey results, 72 percent of students have waited to purchase course materials until after the class had started and more than one in four (27 percent) forgo the purchase altogether.

For those students who are not delaying or avoiding purchases, supplemental ways of paying for course materials have been found:

  • 55 percent have purchased older versions of course materials
  • 47 percent have gotten a job
  • 46 percent have shared materials with a classmate
  • 44 percent have used financial aid money to pay for them

Affordability and Bundling
The survey indicates 77 percent of students overwhelmingly favor colleges offering the option to purchase course materials as part of tuition. Of the students, 47 percent state their institution does not allow this currently and 17 percent did not know if they were afforded this option. Of the students attending schools that allow students to have course materials included with tuition, 74 percent are confident their school negotiates the best price for the course materials.

About VitalSource |
VitalSource Technologies Inc., part of Ingram Content Group, is improving the learning experience by making it easier to create and deliver effective and affordable content. The preferred choice among educational institutions and companies for digital learning materials, VitalSource® helps over 1,000 educational content providers create and deliver seamless interactive learning experiences through its exclusive Bookshelf® platform to millions of learners at 7,000 institutions. Bookshelf users opened more than 40 million digital textbooks last year and read more than 2 billion pages.

Methodological Notes
The VitalSource Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 500 currently enrolled college students between May 11 and 18, 2016, using an email invitation and an online survey.

Media Contact

Erin McCarthy, VitalSource