Monday, September 24, 2007

With the expense of textbooks and materials for classes, costs for college students are stacking up

Tim King stacks textbooks on Friday at the Jacksonville Book Store on the square. Photo: Kevin Qualls/The Anniston Star

It’s only about 5 percent of what they’ll spend for their college education.

But every year, as students feel out their schedules and decide which classes to take, shelling out for textbooks seems to cause more consternation than any other expense.

Sure, there’s the long-held tradition of selling those books back at the end of each semester (usually for 5 percent to 35 percent of the original cost, according to the Government Accountability Office).

But more and more textbook publishers are changing their techniques — they say to improve quality, critics say to artificially jack up prices and limit resale ability.

More than half of all professors nationwide now assign textbooks with supplemental materials, usually CDs or codes to access Web sites with additional lessons, study guides or 24-hour homework help.

“If they can’t get me, they can get somebody,” said Jim Rayburn, a biology professor at Jacksonville State University and president of the faculty senate.

But a GAO report said those extras, almost always sold in bundles with textbooks, best explain price increases over the past few years.

See the full story here.

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