Student spending has decreased by more than 50% over the past 15 years – The Oswegonian

College students have been steadily reducing spending on classroom materials over the past decade.

Since 2007, average spending in dollars has fallen from a peak of $701 in 2007 to a low of $339 in 2021-2022, a drop of about 52%, according to STATISTA.

Data shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased students’ average propensity to save. While in 2019-20, average spending was flat with 2017 and 2019, it fell by nearly 20% in subsequent years.

Another report from independent research firm Student Monitor shows some of the reasons for the change in consumer behavior. Their research shows that student spending has dropped 22 percent in the most recent year to an average of just $314. The report notes that much of this change is because students are tailoring their purchases to the requirements of their individual courses and taking advantage of some new affordable options. Some of these include delivering high-quality content and courseware in delivery models such as inclusive access, as well as print rentals and other formats such as digital, loose-leaf, custom solutions and personal learning applications.

On the other hand, the annual survey by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) found that two-year college students spend, on average, more on materials than four-year college students.

Richard Hershman, NACS’ vice president of government relations, said all students pay roughly the same for their first two years of college because they often take similar compulsory general education courses. According to Hershman, material costs are generally less expensive for third- and fourth-year students. They spent an average of $412 in the third year and $362 in the fourth or fifth year.

The NACS survey also reported that digital course materials are encouraging students to experiment with multiple learning styles, but the problem is that most of these materials are downloaded over the Internet, and students are not paying for it. The survey explained that an increase in downloads was one of the most important reasons for the decrease in spending.

Kool Ito, a Japanese student majoring in business administration and marketing at the State University of New York at Oswego, said he spends less because he can find different alternatives on the Internet at lower prices.

“Now instead of going to a university bookstore to buy a book, we can buy a PDF from the internet, see the different options available and compare prices,” Ito said. “Also, there are a lot of people selling books from past years at lower prices, which is more convenient for international students.”

Adam Gagas, an adjunct lecturer at the State University of New York at Oswego, has taught corporate finance for more than nine years. Gagas is also an investment advisor and financial professional who has been working in the financial world since 1996. He is a board member of Pathfinder Bank, founded Breakwall Asset Management LLC, and is Managing Director of Rockbridge Investment Institutional Services Management.

Gagas believes that one of the reasons for the reduction in student course spending is the digitization of available resources and materials. According to Gargas, before digitalization, only one retailer, such as a university bookstore, had a monopoly on the academic resource market. This means that students are price takers as there are no other options on the market.

“There’s a bookstore on campus, and that’s really your only chance to buy books for your class,” Gargas said. “You go there, you’re a price taker rather than a price maker, and no matter what the price is, you have to pay a certain price, and that’s it.”

Gagas went on to explain that digitalization has made it easier for competitors to enter the market and created competition among retailers to sell products. He added that the second-hand market is one of the biggest competitors to break the monopoly of university bookstores, offering older editions at lower prices. The latter means that increased competition has become a positive deflationary force in the pricing of academic resources.

“Some locally founded businesses sell textbooks and used books off-campus,” Gargas said. “A book is an old edition, but the definition of a 23-year-old book is the same, which means that even if you’re in the 10th edition, you can still use the 7th edition. In any type of business model, profit attracts others to sell The same product, which will undercut the price and start to take away the opportunity to make excess profits. Someone will show up and figure out a way to do what you do at a lower price.”

Gagas believes that the new learning methods and available offerings enabled by technology are the main reasons for reducing student consumption of course materials. The arrival of new competitors offering lower prices has allowed the market to reduce retailers’ profits and increase consumer surplus, thereby increasing the accessibility of academic resources to students from around the world.

Photo: Abigail Connolly | Oswego

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