Student leaders across the state are weighing options for making textbooks more affordable.
The UNC-system Board of Governors will discuss the issue in January after asking student body presidents last week to present information about their schools’ textbook programs and to propose ideas for keeping textbook costs low.
“It’s something the board has kind of been focused on for a while,” said Greg Doucette, president of the Association of Student Governments, which is responsible for coordinating activities between the 17 UNC-system schools.
The student leaders examined the two types of programs — guaranteed buyback and rentals — used throughout the system to keep the prices of textbooks low for students at last week’s meeting.
“The general impression is that the textbook policies work when the students can use them,” Doucette said.
The guaranteed buyback, a program implemented at 12 universities, including UNC-Chapel Hill, allows students to sell their books back to campus bookstores at 40 percent to 50 percent of what they paid.
UNC-CH Student Body President Jasmin Jones said the program is working fairly well, but the main problem arises when professors change books because students do not get the full payback promised.
Doucette said ASG is trying to see if they can place limits on how often a book can be changed.
However, UNC-Wilmington Student Body President Mark Blackwell said the buyback program does not need much improvement.
“Our buyback, I believe, has been quite effective,” Blackwell said.
His administration has worked to make more books guaranteed and to cut down the use of course packs, Blackwell said.
The second program, used mainly at the smaller UNC-system schools, allows students to rent books by charging a blanket fee along with tuition costs.
“You may still additionally have to buy one or two text books,” said Applachian State Student Body President Jonathan Meisner.
The rental fee at ASU is about $200, Meisner said.
But Doucette said he was unsure if the program could be implemented on larger campuses, despite its success at smaller ones.
“The student fee for it would be so exorbitantly huge that really the buyback program is the better deal,” he said.
Jones proposed an alternative to cut the costs of textbooks — making them tax free.
“We don’t get to buy the books on the day that the state has its tax free day,” Jones said.
But Jones said she wasn’t sure whether or not it will happen.
“We understand that that’s going to be difficult,” she said.
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