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The Burden of Digital Access Codes

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

With the start of a new semester comes a dreaded financial hit for students: purchasing required textbooks. As can be seen in the figure below, The College Board reports that a full-time student should budget around $1,240 for a public four-year in-state university in the 2018-2019 school year for course materials and textbooks. This averages out to $620 a semester on top of the cost of tuition and fees that students already have to incur.

As we move into the digital world, instructors are requiring students to purchase a digital access codes that average at a $126 cost. Students can save some money by buying the stand-alone access code (around $100), however, only 28 percent of access codes can be found in an unbundled form. 

These codes also don’t offer some of the flexibility to save money that textbooks do. The option to buy the ebook, renting a used copy, or split the cost with a friend taking the same class doesn’t exist with access codes. On top of that, they inhibit students from selling the course materials at the end of the semester and being able to get some of our money back. 

Although the benefits of having an online platform to practice your homework are many, requiring students to purchase access codes is a financially unfair practice. It is forcing students all over the nation to “pay to do homework” putting an even bigger financial strain on the cost of receiving a well-rounded education and paying a fortune to secure a stable future. 


I am a Senior studying International Business pursuing a career in an international company in their Marketing or PR department. My passions are art, storytelling, and traveling.