We’ve all had classes where we had to purchase a required $200 textbook, only to never crack it open even once. It’s a big waste of money, especially since tuition costs keep rising year after year. It’s impossible to gauge if you really need the textbook, so most students just buy it anyway since some professors require the textbook on the first day of class. Because textbooks come with such a high price tag, students have found creative ways to get their hands on the books without having to empty their bank accounts. Some students rent books through Amazon.com and Chegg.com, some students try to find the textbooks in libraries, and some students go straight to the Internet. “I just illegally download them as I believe there should be no price tags on academic related materials that will object us against learning,” says Clement Pan, a Computer Science junior at UWT.
Rep. Melanie Stambaugh and Rep. Hans Zeiger realized these problems, as well as the problem that sometimes the students can’t find an alternative and end up having to pay full price. Zeiger introduced the House Bill 1958, which would make it so that professors cannot request textbooks that exceed $100, unless there is absolutely no lower cost alternative. If passed, this bill will cover community colleges, technical colleges, and four year universities in the state of Washington. Stambaugh introduced the House Bill 1973, which aims to start a pilot program at Eastern Washington University where up to 10 professors would be granted money to give students course materials instead of textbooks, like videos and online material. If this program is successful, it could expand to other universities as well.
Louise Little, Chief Executive Officer of the University Bookstore, explains that our bookstores are already helping students find books at the lowest cost. All the information of course materials are posted online as soon as they receive it, for students to look at. On top of that, textbooks are offered used, new, digital, as well as rental, and the price comparison tool is available for students to find the best option. She also adds, “As we’ve always done and will continue to do, we work with professors to help find the course materials they need and want for classes at the lowest possible price with the highest number of options available for students. Our mission for 115 years has been to serve the students, faculty and staff of the University of Washington and we will continue to do so to support their educational goals.”
According to The News Tribune, some legislators are trying to cut tuition costs for public colleges and universities in Washington, but the estimated cost of that is $226 million, so it doesn’t seem very likely. Starting with cutting down textbook cost is much more doable and realistic.