College students can save hundreds as they head back to school

Media Contacts
Nathan Proctor

Senior Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Nathan Proctor

Senior Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

New guide will help students cut costs on textbooks, computers and more

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

WASHINGTON — College is expensive, requiring many students to take out significant loans to afford an education. On top of that, students have to deal with the additional costs of textbooks, computers and other critical supplies. As students head back to school — or to school for the first time — U.S. PIRG Education Fund is releasing a money-saving guide to help them cut those additional costs.

“Students are having a harder and harder time affording to attend college. Once they get to school, they shouldn’t also have to pay to participate in class,” said Adam Garber, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog. “Our money saving guide aims to give students the information they need to alleviate those extra costs and the stress that comes with them.”

U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s back-to-school guide covers the following areas:

Finding Affordable Textbooks

Textbook costs have increased by more than one thousand percent over the last 30 years because only a handful of publishers control the marketplace. With fewer options available to students, companies can increase costs by using access codes — which hide homework behind a paywall — and publishing new editions frequently. As a result, many colleges recommend that students budget well over one-thousand dollars a year for books and other class materials, which hits students at community colleges and low-income students particularly hard. 

“A broken textbook market has limited choices for many students, but there are ways they can get around it,” said Kaitlyn Vitez, U.S. PIRG Make Higher Education Affordable Campaign Director. “By evaluating the cost of textbooks in classes and shopping smart, students can save hundreds of dollars.”

Buying Refurbished Electronics

Refurbished electronics are only options when people have the tools and knowledge to repair used products. U.S. PIRG supports “Right to Repair” reforms to require manufacturers to give consumers and third parties access to the parts and information necessary to fix our electronics. 

“Repair cuts costs for consumers and cuts down on the electronics headed for the scrap heap,” said Nathan Proctor, U.S. PIRG Right to Repair Campaign Director. “Buying refurbished, repairable electronics will save students money for the next four years.”

Debit Cards

A report earlier this year from U.S. PIRG Education Fund found some schools continue to use campus debit cards with enormous fees. In total, students spent $24.6 million on fees for their campus debit cards, which are often tied to their student aid.