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University Institutes Measures to Keep Textbooks Affordable for Students

March 28, 2012


Textbook prices are going down at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. In response to the continuing rise in the cost of textbooks at universities across the nation, the Faculty Senate has approved the “Making Textbooks Affordable Initiative,” a group of measures that will lead to lower costs for Island University students.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, textbook costs have risen at a much faster rate than inflation. High book prices can negatively affect how many classes a student takes or even prevent them from attending an institution of higher learning. The average cost of textbooks for a full time student is $960, and that expense could be even higher depending on the types of courses taken.

To combat this disturbing trend, the University has instituted measures that utilize best practices in textbook adoption. Key among these is the development and implementation of schedules for the early adoption of textbooks to allow the bookstore time to secure used editions and give students time to order from competitively-priced sources. In addition, faculty and instructional staff are encouraged to order new editions of textbooks only if older versions are not of comparable educational content or are no longer available through normal distribution channels.

“We understand that the cost of textbooks places a financial burden on students and, with the practice of early adoption, we have the ability to lower the cost to the students,” says Dr. Chris Markwood, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The fact is that our students struggle financially to go to school. This initiative is the compassionate and ethical thing to do to help them.”

Under the plan, when a faculty member places a book order, the bookstore will provide the retail price to make sure that the instructor is aware of the cost. It will also encourage them to use the same text for multiple semesters and ensure that more used textbooks will be accessible to students. For instance, a new biology book can cost more than $200, while a used one costs almost $150.

“The price of books takes a huge chunk of my financial aid that could be used on other school essentials,” says Ashlee Wegner, a senior communication major. “By being able to bargain shop, I can find the best prices for books that I need for my classes. Finding used textbooks would drastically cut the cost of the semester and leave more money to support myself during the school year.”

Markwood stresses that the University continues to look for more creative ways to help soften the textbook burden for students. Other measures encouraged under the “Making Textbooks Affordable Initiative” include the use of online versions and other formats of textbooks wherever possible; full year textbook adoption by faculty; and giving the students the option of choosing bundled or unbundled materials.

“While state support for higher education is pressuring institutions to increase tuition and fees, there are a few avenues where we have some control over costs,” Markwood says. “Textbooks are one of these areas. I am extremely proud of the wide-spread efforts of faculty and staff to help students in this area and look forward to a campus-wide focus on this initiative."

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