Our Textbook Mission

According to the College Board, the average undergraduate student should budget between $1,200 and $1,300 for textbooks and supplies each year. That’s as much as 40% of tuition at a two-year community college and 13% at a four-year public institution.

For many students and families already struggling to afford a college degree, that is simply too much – meaning more debt, working longer hours, or making choices that undermine academic success.

For more than a decade, the Student PIRGS have led the way in exposing publisher's practices that rip off students, championing cost-saving textbook options like used books and rental programs, and advocating for open textbooks as a long-term solution.

We can save students a ton of money, and put the heat on publishers to make textbooks affordable.

  • In 2008, Congress passes the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which banned some of publisher's worst practices to rip students off
  • In 2011 and 2012, respectively, Washington and California enact laws to create statewide open textbook and open educational resource programs
  • In 2013, Senators Durbin and Franken, with Congressmen Miller and Hinojosa, introduce companion bills to create a federal open textbook grant program



  • More than 3,000 professors have signed a statement in support of open textbook adoption
  • Dozens of institutions like the University of Maryland (College Park), University of Minnesota, and UMass Amherst have launched their own campus programs 
to encourage open textbook use
  • The Student PIRGS have published 14+ research reports documenting the problems and harms with traditional textbooks and why open textbooks are the solution