Everyone knows and expects college to be expensive. High school students spend months, even years, planning and preparing for the financial burden. They work hard to apply for and receive scholarships. Nothing is worse though than finding out how little those scholarships actually cover, and trying to stretch out that money for all the different expenses is quite difficult.
It's all difficult and frustrating, but the most frustrating part has to be textbooks because of their outrageous cost. While it used to be popular to sell books back, rent them, trade them, and find discounted ones, that is becoming a thing of the past. Here's why - online codes.
Online codes now come with many of the new textbooks. It allows students to view textbooks online along with other programs for turning in assignments, taking exams, and sometimes other resources for studying. While that seems really great, not all professors actually use the online resources but require the online code anyway. It also makes books more expensive than regular books or used ones.
Out of the five classes I'm enrolled in at the University of Tennessee, three of them require a brand new textbook with an online code. The only reason to have the code is to be able to turn in online assignments, which count as a major portion of our grades. This eliminates the option to buy used books or rent books, making the amount I spent on textbooks double what it could be.
I hate the thought of being wasteful and to me, spending the money on an online program that is unnecessary is wasteful. Assignments can be turned in through other programs students are already paying for such as Blackboard, or the equivalent at other colleges. The money going towards textbooks could be spent on housing, meal plans, parking passes, and other schools expenses some students will have to opt out of.
The college board estimates a full time student at a four-year university will spend $1,298 on textbooks and supplies over the course of a year. In 2015, the average grant amount was $8,170 and the loan amount $4,800. In combination with other types of financial aid, the combined average per student receiving aid is $14,210. In 2014, the average price of tuition alone was $9,410. That does not include room and board, meal plans, transportation or books and supplies. Though 85 percent of students will receive some type of financial aid, the majority is loans rather than grants.
With that being said, making textbooks more expensive for students for no reason is ridiculous. Colleges should truly be supporting students in their education as many often claim to be. For some students, the cost is a choice between other necessary items. It can be a huge burden. There should be an option for students to either pay for the book with the online resources if they can afford it, and if they can't, be allowed to buy a normal textbook. It should not be a requirement to buy the new textbook when there are other free options.
This is just one example of the "college business" showing how students with more money are put in a place to succeed. Students with less will have to work harder and smarter, whether that be now during college or after in the workforce when they have to pay back their student loans. Some colleges will try to deny it, but it exists. Others will build programs and support systems to try and champion students but leave out issues like textbooks and other financial burdens to students.