It’s no secret that college is expensive. Room, board, tuition and countless miscellaneous fees empty the pockets of students and their parents alike. One of the most outrageously priced necessities for college students is textbooks. The increasing cost of nearly every other aspect of college costs have many students at a loss for how they can keep up.
Some professors provide course materials online and don’t require textbooks, but STEM classes and many other classes provide transferrable credits so the professors have no control over what materials are required.
With the high costs of new textbooks, students have started to improvise on how to access course resources. Some colleges and universities have created public Facebook groups for students to buy, sell and trade textbooks among themselves at far lower prices than bookstores or online resources offer. Some students even give away textbooks to others for free to help each other out. This is a great resource for students to access but it is difficult to find certain textbooks that are not as widely used, and there is no efficient search engine other than scrolling through a Facebook feed for hours. It’s not ideal for students to spend valuable time trying to find a required textbook for an affordable price.
Although used books are available to students at a reduced price, more and more classes now require a unique access code for the student to complete assignments online through various academic websites. These access codes are rarely included in the purchase or rental of used books and cannot be used twice, so many students are forced to buy a brand-new textbook at full price to succeed in the class. Because of how prevalent digitized learning has become, buying secondhand books is becoming a less viable option.
Access codes are making some used textbooks virtually useless, and there is no way for students to help each other out by sharing an account – assignments must be completed through a student’s own account. Although they can be sold separately from physical textbooks, access codes can still cost upwards of $100.
Colleges need to catch up and help out. Although textbooks are sometimes included in financial aid and scholarships, there is a larger focus on tuition. For students in great financial need, textbooks can pose a great issue because no one can get a student loan on textbooks. It is an ongoing cost that cannot be postponed, and if students are scraping by already it can cause a great deal of financial stress.
Unless students are given cash grants, scholarships are of no use in purchasing material textbooks. There is no way to go through college without having the required course materials as soon as they are needed. With the ever-changing school system that is becoming integrated into the digital world, the financial support available to students needs to change as well.