Have you ever been enthused to make a trip to the financial aid office to pull out loans? Who looks forward to going to the bookstore only to be devastated by the prices of the required textbooks? If you are a college student, then you are aware that buying textbooks is a pain, and by the time you walk out of the bookstore, your wallet feels lighter but your backpack becomes a whole lot heavier. But don’t worry, that’s not the end. After finals, when you no longer have any use for that 20th edition earth science textbook, consider yourself lucky if you get even half of the money back that you used to pay for it.
As a financially independent student who struggles to afford college, I had to undermine my education by dealing with the inflated costs of books.
Unless your family is well off or you have a well-paying job, it is impossible to throw money around for all of the required materials. Is it me or does the entire college textbook industry seem like one big scam?
My college tuition costs around $30,000 a year on average. After receiving financial aid and setting aside the money for rent, food and other living necessities, I still have to worry about purchasing expensive textbooks to keep up with class coursework. As a financially independent student who struggles to afford college, I had to undermine my education by dealing with the inflated costs of books. Along with dealing with tuition hikes, I continually stress about obtaining the these materials to academically succeed.
I have an issue with having to pay hundreds of dollars for required materials when in reality, they will only be utilized for a couple of weeks. A majority of classes do not require covering all the content, but rather only a handful of chapters at a time. These texts are not worth what they are priced, and the high cost does a significant disservice to college students.
The university often requires multiple textbooks for our courses. Not only are books high-priced, but publishers release new editions very frequently. This makes the resale value of the older editions drop to a minimum. Buying is a losing investment if you do not intend to utilize the book in later years. Students are expected to purchase the most recent edition because they are in line with the professor’s curriculum. In order to be able to afford the materials I need to keep up with course lectures and written assignments, I have to take out large loans that place me in financial debt. I have had to pay over $500 combined for textbooks for a single quarter. This is money that could have been used to pay for rent and groceries.
An increasing number of students are graduating with large debts, and having to purchase extra materials only adds to financial burden. It is estimated that the average college student spends up to $1,200 per year on books and supplies, while publishers earn upwards of $4.3 billion on higher education course materials. Over the past 30 years, there has been a 300 percent increase in the costs of books that we need in order to complete classwork and study for exams. Reading materials should be produced and priced to be as inexpensive as possible without sacrificing educational value. There needs to be an emphasis on affordability for academic success. It has been reported that up to 65 percent of students say they have skipped buying books because they were simply too expensive.
Sometimes professors are courteous enough to leave a copy of the course textbook on reserve at the university library. However, this option can be a nuisance because the book can only be used for two hours at a time. There is also the possibility that someone else may have already checked the book out, meaning that you have to wait hours to get your hands on it. In other instances, the professor might be generous enough to give away extra copies, but then you are competing with a classroom full of eager students that want to get their hands on a free textbook. You can also scan the pages of the readings that are required for the quarter, but this option is time-consuming and tedious.
Over the past 30 years, there has been a 300 percent increase in the costs of books that we need in order to complete classwork and study for exams.
Some actions that can be taken to lower prices for can be for universities to negotiate directly with publishers, establish non-profit bookstores, make better and more efficient rental systems and supply textbooks as a part of tuition. The real long-lasting solution to making readers less of a burden is making open-source textbooks. Open-source textbooks can revolutionize the market by providing a way to give free unrestricted online access and reducing costs up to 80 percent. Open-source textbooks are just like published works; they are faculty-written and peer-reviewed. Open source means that content is made readily available online, they are free to download and they are affordable in print. Having an open copyright allows free public use, creation and distribution of textbook copies, and it gives users the ability to adapt books by revising it or combining it with other materials.
It is a student’s right to have greater access to free and affordable books. For the sake of higher education, we need to remove the hurdles that restrict students from reaching their highest academic potential.
With winter quarter approaching, Andres Castañeda denounces the absurd price of textbooks that college students deal with every year.