The costs of textbooks are on the rise and could cost students up to $1,200 per year, but Salt Lake Community College has programs in place to help curb these expenses.
In addition to a new report by The College Board that said textbooks can cost students more than $1,000 per year, research found textbook fees can impact whether students register for classes or not.
In a survey from the Florida Virtual Campus of more than 21,000 students: 64.2% stated not buying the required textbooks due to cost, 35.6% stated not having the required textbook was the reason for a bad grade, and 22.9% (roughly 4,800 students) dropped out of a class for being unable to afford the textbooks.
SLCC’s Open Educational Resources conducted their own survey of 100 students and found due to textbook costs: 84% delayed buying textbooks, 51% registered for fewer classes, 33% did not purchase a textbook and 32% did not register for a course.
A textbook required for a communications class at SLCC can cost $75 to rent from the college bookstore. The same textbook costs roughly $15 to rent from Amazon. There is the option for discounts and expedited shipping if you sign up for a Prime membership with Amazon, but it can take two to three weeks to receive it in the mail if Prime is not used.
Rickelle Zucker started school at SLCC in the fall 2020 semester for an associate in exercise science. Her preferred method is Amazon.
“My first resource is Amazon textbook rentals,” Zucker said. “The only time I run into a problem doing it on Amazon is if the textbook is a special edition or specific to SLCC.”
Jennifer Waters, manager of the Jordan Campus Bookstore, has worked at SLCC for 16 years and said she has seen a definite decline in students ordering books.
“There are a lot more options,” Waters said. “Digital is the way everything is going, but the more a book gets looked at, the more expensive it becomes.”
Students can rent or purchase textbooks from the college bookstore. Students only need their S-number or course, and the library website will pull up any required material. After ordering, students can pick up the books from the library or wait for them in the mail depending on the option they selected.
Jamie Dwyer, an instruction and liaison librarian at SLCC, said there are two book resources that may help some students struggling with textbook expenses: Open Educational Resources and the reserve program.
Open Educational Resources, or OER, is a program students can use to find classes with “no-cost/low-cost” books. When registering for classes, courses with the “no-cost/low-cost textbooks” attribute will either have no textbooks or textbooks that are under $40. OER books are vetted by faculty and mainly consist of digital or electronic textbooks.
The reserve program was started in the early 2000s and thrives on student requests as well as teacher donations or contributions. Library administrators buy books with library funds, and then these books are set aside and placed on reserve where students can request to see them.
When a student reserves a book, they will have a specific time with a limit of four hours to use the book in the library, which can be extended if the book is not on hold for another student after the four hours are up. The book cannot leave the building, but it can be reserved as many times as needed during the semester.
The library asks that students do not request for them to buy a textbook for the program if they are only waiting for their book in the mail. The reserve program is for students who cannot afford the required textbook.
To learn more about the reserve program, go to the SLCC library website and click on the “Course Reserve” icon. To learn how to register for OER classes, go to the homepage and watch the tutorial video.