Student debt statistics for 2016 are shocking. Class of 2016 graduates have an average school loan debt of $37,000 and the total U.S. student loan debt is 1.26 trillion dollars. There is one missing point in the common conversation, however. If current students decide to take out loans, they now face another set of barriers not present for previous generations of borrowers. Students now accrue up to a 7% interest rate starting the date they take out a school loan. In years past, the interest wouldn’t begin accruing until after deferment. This new process makes it harder for students to pay off loans since so much more money is accrued in addition to the principal before they even graduate. This debt stays with students, impacting their ability to buy houses, cars, or take risks in the job market long after graduation.
What can we do to limit the amount of money being put towards loans? One easy way to chip away at college costs is reducing the cost of textbooks. Students spend over $1200/year on textbooks alone . We can’t count on publishers to lower the costs of textbooks because they thrive on their business model. There is an option rarely explored in most college classrooms, however. Open textbooks are licensed under an open copyright license and are available online to be used freely by educators, students, and the public. These resources have come a long way in the past several years and there are many repositories on the Web for finding options for different classes.
We invite members of the campus to discuss this interesting issue. Have you tried using open textbooks in your class? Have you ever used an open textbook? What are some of the issues we see with using an open textbook? What are some of the problems with using an open textbook? Join us for a discussion on September 29 at 11AM in OM115.