Column: Textbook and access code costs are getting out of hand

Sam Nowotnik, Staff Writer

Every semester I dread having to look at what textbooks or access codes I need and their costs.

I feel like it’s a never-ending cycle, and I’m always getting ripped off. I’ve had multiple classes where I have never used the books, and I’ve had times where the book wasn’t even necessary for the course. I’m positive the majority of students feel the same way when it comes to this topic. 

Students already have so many expenses, and textbooks are an extra, upfront cost that can present a significant financial burden.

The textbooks are available to students at a premium price with limited options to get them elsewhere. If students choose to return books to the GVSU store at the end of the year, in my experience, they’re not accepted or the reward is only a couple of dollars. This is very frustrating when you have invested a lot of money – sometimes hundreds of dollars – in them.

Also, for some classes, an access code and a textbook are required. This is more convenient for some, but the access code gives no option to students to get any benefit after your class is done.

In addition, the majority of access codes given to students are only for their homework assignments. I think there needs to be some sort of solution or different option when it comes to online access codes because students are already paying for the class, then have to pay to get the book and pay to do their homework.

It seems unfair that without these additional payments and websites a student can’t succeed or even participate in a course. There are never set rules or requirements either. Some professors don’t require books while others stick to books found on campus and, in some instances, professors choose their own books they want to include in the course that aren’t even available on campus. 

There are a few easy ways to save money on class materials that don’t involve school resources.

First, I have had a lot of success going on Facebook and looking at the student pages. There are always students looking to sell and get rid of their old textbooks and especially at the end of each semester. There are many students who all took the same course path and may have all the books you need for a semester. Some students just don’t get rid of their books at the end of each semester, so, when they graduate they will post them online one last time to try and get any money back. This has saved me a lot of time and money when it comes to textbooks.

Another method that works is checking for books in the GVSU library or other local libraries. If it’s a novel, rather than a standard textbook, you can sometimes find the books you need in stores like Barnes and Nobel as well. Many students also use Amazon and online used booksellers which allow students to rent or buy books for less than the prices on campus.

When I was a freshman, I always thought that school sources were the only reliable and right ways to get resources for class. I later found out that if you do your research and verify the correct author, publish date and version, there should be no problem at all getting your books from somewhere else.