Students at the University of Mississippi have expressed frustration over the hundreds of dollars in textbook and access code fees required for their classes each year. They are bombarded with an accumulation of class-related fees that, combined with an already steep tuition bill, adds a tremendous amount of stress to their financial anxiety.
Taylor Jones, a sophomore exercise science major, is one of the many students upset over the recurring fees for course materials. Jones feels cheated that she has to pay more than $100 to obtain access codes, which are purchasable online subscriptions that give students access to homework and other course materials.
“Buying textbooks especially when they are only available at your university’s bookstore is just a scam for them to get more money out of you,” Jones said.
University professors are given the freedom to choose the books and course materials they feel would match their predetermined curriculum most effectively. This causes an inconsistency in the cost of class materials which is frustrating for most students.
One class can amount to $200 plus dollars in fees while another is completely free.
College students like Jones and Kasia Hosey, a sophomore biology major, feel as if they are overcharged. In their opinion, the prices should be reasonable and affordable enough to match a college student’s budget.
“Even if I didn’t have to buy a textbook, why should I have to spend $600 on sheets of paper?” Hosey said. “It is the 21st century, so we should at least be able to purchase most material online for $30 or less.”
While prices of printed textbooks and course materials vary greatly based on the book type and size, access codes appear to be an area of problem for most students. An issue due, in part, to the fact that university personale have no way to mitigate cost of price for online access codes.
“Certain publishers will not sell the electronic version of their textbook to libraries, so we have no way of offering those resources to students.” said Brian Young, Collective Strategists for the UM Library and Associate Professor.
Emotions surrounding the cost of required class materials typically fall into three separate categories. Some students have no problem with purchasing textbooks offered only online, while others prefer to rent hard copies of books to alleviate the overall cost. There is also a portion of students that feel they should not have to pay for textbook materials at all.
“Books should be included in the fees when you sign up for the course,” Jones said. “They have to understand that not all students are attending school for free, some have to pay out of pocket.”
Students cannot afford to continuously pay thousands of dollars for tuition and hundreds of dollars on books and other course materials.
The university currently has Open Educational Resources available to students. These textbooks and course materials are written by faculty members with an open license and can be used for free across various courses. While Open Educational Resources alleviate costs, writing a textbook is time consuming and not plausible for all professors.
John D. Williams Library also offers support to students in financial distress. “We have a limited supply of certain books that students can put on reserve and use for a few hours at a time,” Young said as he discussed the steps the library is taking to help university students. Steps that include purchasing the books students use the most and offering access to them for free.
The UM library also monitors course materials in an attempt to potentially offer certain resources to the student body.
Even with the library offering books for free and the materials from Open Educational Resources, students say that prices are still too high for some.