The USF Bookstore is the first bookstore on a major Florida university campus to implement an enhanced price-matching program for textbooks. This new program is the first step in making college affordable for students.
The bookstore will match competitors’ prices for all new and used books. Then they will refund each student with a gift card containing the difference. There is a seven-day window after the original purchase date in which the price-matching program will be honored as long as students have the original receipt.
While the criteria for textbooks qualifying for the program is extensive, the discount offered will help many students. The program will match competitors, whether they are a physical or online establishment. The bookstore will also extend the price match to rental course material.
According to College Board, students at public universities spend an average of $1,200 a year on books and supplies.
Many university staff members have recently recognized the extremely high price of course material. When surveyed, 80 percent of USF faculty members said they take into consideration the cost of each textbook before choosing one for the class. Forty-one percent also said they will use an earlier edition of the material to help lower the overall cost for students.
A survey done by Student Public Interest Research Group showed, despite the carefully selected books, 65 percent of students admitted they decided against buying a textbook due to the high cost. Of those students, 94 percent were worried that not having the material would negatively affect their grade. Despite their fear, they chose to refrain from purchasing high priced textbooks.
As great as USF’s support is, the real problem lies with textbook manufacturers. Five textbook companies control a surplus of 80 percent of the market.
This oligopoly keeps competition from rising up and evening out the heavily tilted market. The only way to change this biased system would be for an entire restructuring of the manufacturers — which, unfortunately, may never occur.
Until a switch to a nontraditional method of learning like an open textbook takes place, students will be forced to either dish out outrageous funds or go without the material and hope it will not affect their grade for the course.
By implementing the price-matching program, the USF Bookstore is one of the first to genuinely show students it cares about the value of their education. They are working to make the college experience as simple and manageable as possible and the gesture does not go unnoticed.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.