Task force seeks ways to lower cost of textbooks

By DAKOTA FINCHER

As college costs continue to rise, some students spend more on textbooks than they pay for tuition.

Pima Community College student Sasha Brown wants to help students succeed by providing cheaper ways to get textbooks.

Brown is a member of Pima’s InterCampus Council and Textbook Task Force. She is also part of Pierson Insiders, a group that focuses on textbook challenges by working with publishers directly.

“Book cost should not match your tuition,” Brown said.

Brown puts a strong emphasis on not buying books without talking to the teacher first, noting that students sometimes buy textbooks without ever needing to use them.

The task force was founded by Phi Theta Kappa All-USA Academic Team scholarship winner Liz Pennington. She is a history and secondary education major who will graduate from PCC this spring.

Pennington created the task force because she knew students who avoided taking certain classes because of the price of textbooks.

“We knew the reason for choosing a course should be the learning experience that the class offers, not the cost of the textbooks,” she said.

In a survey conducted by the InterCampus Council, 41 percent of students chose not to buy a required textbook due to high price. Seventy-three percent of students thought a fair price for a textbook would be less than $100.

Task force members are sorting out details for a proposed “Achieving the Dream” grant provided by Hewlett-Packard.

The grant would help students earn an associate of arts degree. Students would still pay tuition but could use open-source digital textbooks free of charge. Curriculum is still under discussion.

Grant funds would be used to pay instructors who are interested in less expensive textbook options.

“We can’t have these men and women work for nothing,” Brown said.

Student spending at a campus bookstore averages $100 to $200, according to the task force. While the bookstore does buy books back, it pays less than the purchase price. Sometimes, students are credited with a gift card in lieu of cash.

Task force members say there are ways around expensive textbooks.

Textbooks.com, for instance, offers buybacks of up to 80 percent. Other well-known resources include Amazon and Chegg.

Textbook Exchange, an online bulletin board, provides another option. Students leave information about textbooks, with contact information to trade or sell textbooks on campus.

Pennington is optimistic.

“The Textbook Task Force’s continued efforts will be to make textbooks more affordable for students, with the belief that every student should have the opportunity at an affordable education,” she said.

For more information on the Textbook Task Force, contact Sasha Brown at sbrown68@mail.pima.edu.

Sasha Brown

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