Economy

Kanye West Goes on Textbook Cost Twitter Rampage

Future President Yeezy has his sights set on an insidious — perhaps unlikely — industry for his alleged 2020 run: textbook publishers.

Kanye West, the musician and very public personality, went on an unexpected Twitter rampage on Tuesday, calling out the climbing costs of educational textbooks in a string of earnest, 140 character dispatches recounting a friend's struggle with high costs. Here's what West had to say on the subject:

The hashtag endnote to West's tweet-rant, #2020, signals that a Yeezus bid in 2020 could include education reform efforts to make school more affordable for lower income families. And while the issue might seem out of place on the rapper's scatter-shot Twitter feed, it's become a serious topic in the broader conversation about the cost education.

What's even more telling about Kanye's example is that $370 a day equates to more than $90,000 a year. Just 22 percent of American households have 90,000 or more in income. Imagine how tough it is for the other nearly 80 percent to afford college.

Over the past 40 or so years, college textbook costs have skyrocketed by as much as 1,041 percent, according to an August 2015 NBC analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's more than triple the rate of overall inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, according to NBC.

College textbook prices

Even in recent years, college textbook prices have soared. According to a study released last week by the student group Student PIRGs, prices have increased 73 percent — more than four times the rate of inflation — just since 2006. In line with West's tweetstorm, the study found that the average price of a textbook can range anywhere between $200 to $400.

The study also found that rising costs disproportionately affect lower-income, or at least cash-strapped, students. Nearly a third of respondents said they used financial aid to pay for textbooks, meaning that nearly 5.2 million undergraduates in the U.S. spend about $1.5 billion in financial aid on textbooks each semester, equaling about $3 billion each year.

Update: We added more context about how much $370 a day equates to over the course of a year.