Universities are charging students hundreds of dollars for required textbooks, and students and faculty agree textbook prices are unreasonable.

These prices range so high that some students choose not to buy books at all while others feel forced to buy them. 

Maddisyn Urban, a strategic communications major at Missouri Western, shared that she doesn’t purchase any of her textbooks because of how often courses don’t utilize them.

“Previously when professors expressed textbooks being mandatory, I never took the plastic seal off the textbook,” Urban said.

She believes as long as students take advantage of office hours and other free resources, passing certain courses without a book is realistic.

“Being a good steward of my education isn’t dependent on having a textbook in front of my face," Urban said. 

This may deem true for strategic communications majors but others don’t have this luxury.

Liza Testorff, a nursing major at Missouri Western, paid $1,000 for materials outside of tuition last semester alone. The nursing program shifted from physical textbooks to e-books which require access codes that cost $200-$300 per class. 

Testorff admits that she rarely uses these e-books but they are crucial to her grade because they contain important assignments and quizzes that are graded online. 

“We try not to complain too much but it’s just a scam because I already paid for the class and tuition.”

Some students work outside of classes to pay for textbooks. In an article published by Inside Higher Education, a survey reports 69% of college students work during the school year. Urban mentions working at least 25 hours a week along with 13 credit hours.

But other students, like Testroff, have time consuming majors that only allow minimal working hours or none at all.

Jordan Atkinson, a communications professor, thinks professors try to help students who struggle with these issues.

“We can be more mindful of those issues for our students,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson tries to put copies of his required material in reserve at the campus library so students who can’t afford books have that resource, because he too believes that textbook prices are outrageous.

As a professor and an author of several textbooks, McMahan shared that textbook authors aren’t making profit from these prices, it’s the companies publishing them who are. 

Now that students have options to rent or buy books from third party websites such as Chegg, McMahan shares that companies aren’t making money off of those transactions. Leading publishers to update textbooks every few years because they primarily make money in the first year of a books release.

Associate Director of Financial Aid Cindy Spotts-Conrad explains that Missouri Western can only give out scholarships that cover institution costs like tuition and housing. Since Barnes & Noble supplies our books, Missouri Western can’t cover that cost. This is the same reason why students have to pay the cost of books forward and not apply the cost to their account.

If a student qualifies for federal aid coverage and that amount exceeds the amount of tuition being charged, financial aid will offer book vouchers that use up to the given amount. However, this only applies to students who qualify for financial aid and have their financial aid submitted at least 10 days before classes begin.

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