Students shouldn’t have to pay for college textbooks

In 2017 Financial Issue, Opinion

With broke college students paying thousands of dollars in tuition, buying textbooks is the last thing they should be wasting their money on.

Students are constantly asked to pay additional fees for things like parking permits, gas and in some cases, rent. If universities took away the burden of buying books, they could lessen the hole burnt in student’s wallets.

Providing textbooks to students should be included in the tuition students are already paying. If the Student Recreation Center and the Student Wellness Center are included, then providing a copy of something that is absolutely essential to a student’s education should be the norm.

Students spend roughly $1,250 a year on textbooks, roughly one-third of the cost of tuition at Cal State Fullerton, according to College Board’s 2016-17 Average Estimated Undergraduate Budgets.

California minimum wage is $10.50 an hour which means, on average, students would have to work 119 hours to earn enough money to pay for books. These are 119 hours that the student is not studying, participating in activities on campus or getting school work done.

Freshman business major Carla Sanchez said she spends most of her time at school or work and the money she makes from work is limited.

“It usually just goes to my textbooks and I can’t spend it on other more important stuff that I need,” Sanchez said.

Although working for something gives a sense of accomplishment, debt tends to add stress to students’ already full plates. Those who can’t find the time to work often turn to loans to help them out.

“Financial aid covers the majority of my tuition, but having to pay for all those books is still really expensive,” said freshman psychology major Carolyn Hernandez. “I had to turn to loans which is the last thing I wanted to do.”

Many colleges don’t take into account the other expenses that students and their parents have. With mortgages, car payments, groceries and other daily needs, books tend to make their way to the back of the list.

If colleges provided students with books, or even a PDF version of a book, financial burdens and stress could be eliminated. Students could then focus on succeeding in school and in their careers.

Some professors have copies of the required books, but few provide their students with the material. In many instances, the authors of these textbooks are professors themselves, so purchasing the book directly benefits the professor. However, if they have the material, a simple scan of the pages for the week sent out in an email to students would help students out in a financially difficult world.

“This one professor that I had, had the book on him (but) he was literally telling us to buy it … So we had to buy it,” Sanchez said. “Why couldn’t he just give us the online code or anything?”

While there are cheaper options than the Titan Shops, like Amazon and the Little Professor Book Center, universities should still lend out books every semester. In high school, students are given textbooks that they bring back at the end of the semester, only having to pay if the book is damaged or lost. This option ensures that money is not wasted and students can put their funds to better use.

“Sometimes in some classes you literally only use it one time or twice,” Sanchez said. “So sometimes you don’t even need the textbook.”

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