Last week, hundreds of PIRG student leaders across the country advocated for affordable higher education, funding for students’ basic needs, and the support universities need to reopen safely.
Virtual DC Lobby Day
150 PIRG student leaders came to the Capitol last week (virtually, of course) to meet with members of Congress and their staff to advocate for doubling the Pell grant, including student dependents in stimulus payments, and setting aside money in the next COVID-19 response bill to give emergency grants to students to meet their basic needs. In all, students met with more than 80 Congressional offices.
New Research on the Rising Cost of Textbooks
The COVID-9 pandemic has led to dire consequences for higher education institutions, forcing shutdowns, and making it harder for students to afford an education or meet their basic needs during the pandemic. The high cost of textbooks have only made this problem worse. Last week, we released our latest report, Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, which found that 79% of students said that the pandemic hindered their ability to meet their basic needs and that it had ripple effects on their ability to purchase course materials and fully participate in class. Even worse, we found that 38% of food insecure students skipped buying access codes containing required homework during the fall term because of their high cost, despite knowing that it would result in an automatic cut to their grade in a course.
Florida PIRG student and Eckerd College freshman Sanaa Ali told Axios she “had to go without all her books for the better part of her first semester. And even after she paid for the access code to her calculus class, she lost access as soon as exams were over. So, to keep learning, she had to buy another book.”
We held a briefing with legislators and their staff, as well as members of the media, to discuss the issues students are facing during the pandemic and share key findings from our Fixing the Broken Textbooks Market report. If you missed the briefing last week, you can view the recording here.
Of course, our work doesn’t stop there. Our student leaders will keep up the fight for students’ basic needs, an affordable higher education system, and expanding the use of free open textbooks.