Textbook costs should be included in tuition, not fine print

By Abbey Ferguson | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

This semester, I spent almost $500 on my books. Not only did that charge take a hit to my bank account, it also impacted my mental health. Trying to dissect my complicated syllabi in order to determine what books were even worth buying only left me with anxiety.

College textbooks are expensive. That extra cost, outside the regular tuition fees, burdens students as they scramble for the hundreds of dollars needed to pay for required materials while balancing the start of new classes.

There are resources at Baylor University to help with the cost of books. The Baylor Bookstore will price match with Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other campus competitors. However, the cost of textbooks should still be included in the university’s tuition. Instead of making students feel as though they are paying an outside cost, they can use financial aid and scholarship money toward the costs of textbooks.

A textbook campaign by Students United in 2018 had about 100 students from seven universities in Minnesota participate. They found that students delay purchasing textbooks or do not buy them at all due to the expense.

On top of that, the marketed tuition price would be an upfront cost of the university. Most class materials are already listed as required, so why not include those prices in tuition? Prospective students could determine if they can afford a more authentic tuition price before they are enrolled and discover textbook costs are paid as an outside expense.

On the other side of things, each student isn’t paying the same amount for their textbooks because they are enrolled in a variety classes with different required materials. Therefore, including textbooks in tuition as an average cost could cause some students to possibly be paying more than they would if they bought their textbooks as an outside expense.

While this is a possibility, the university has the ability to avoid that problem if they choose to use a system that has already proven to be beneficial.

For example, some college campuses have already introduced the textbook and tuition bundling method and it has been proven successful. Utilizing an online system named Rafter360, Thomas More College in Kentucky and Schreiner University in Texas have been able to cut their textbook costs up to 50% and have seen a drastic increase in students purchasing their course materials.

Students deserve an equal opportunity to succeed in their classes without stressing about paying for required materials. The beginning of a new semester shouldn’t make students feel anxious about paying off expensive textbook costs. Instead, students should be focused on academic success and the excitement to learn, knowing they are already prepared for class with textbooks paid off and in hand.

Abbey Ferguson is a sophomore Broadcast Journalism major from Los Angeles, California with minors in Corporate Communications and History in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and Honors Program. In her second year at the Lariat, Abbey is excited to build off of the journalism skills she learned during her first year and gain more knowledge about seeking out compelling news stories. After graduation, she plans to enter a career as an on-scene broadcast reporter.