The Average ND Student Pays $1,100 Year For Textbooks


Today the state Senate considered two resolutions – HCR3009 and HCR3013 calling for study into the use of open textbooks. The idea is that moving to open textbooks would lower the cost of books for students.

And the price is pretty outrageous. Senator Larry Luick, in carrying one of the resolutions to the floor, noted that the average North Dakota college student is paying $1,100 per year for books. Standing up to speak in favor of the resolutions, Senator Lonnie Laffen noted he had kids in college and said “hallelujah.”

Both resolutions passed on a voice vote”

It’s great that the legislature is looking at ways to open up the textbook market. The manner in which the universities have tried to protect that market, forcing students to pay inflated prices, is nothing short of criminal. In this digital age, these books should be getting cheaper not more expensive. Unfortunately, the opposite has been true.

And I’m disappointed that there wasn’t more discussion about that in the Senate, because the textbook problem is really a microcosm for our higher education problem. Technology, among other factors, should be making higher education cheaper. Yet it’s not. North Dakota is leading the nation in taxpayer appropriations to higher education, and tuition is growing at brisk clip too.

The problem, of course, is the government’s involvement in subsidizing higher education. The more money, both state and federal, we pump into backing student loans and subsidizing tuition the higher the cost of college goes. That distorts price signals in higher education, to the point where we have students graduating with degrees that are worth far less than the tens of thousands of dollars in debt the incurred to get them.

It’s time to make higher education a free market, and get the government out.