Free textbooks for all!

With the back-to-school hubbub, many students are struggling to pay for tuition and fees, so the biggest go-to as far as cutting corners financially is textbooks. People are turning to used books and e-books as an alternative for spending the supposed amount of $500 (usually more) per semester if they purchased their textbooks new from the bookstore.

However, Fulton County public elementary, middle and high schools all have textbooks provided to them by the county at no cost to the students. As a public institution, Georgia State ought to be entitled to the same benefits as grade-level education.

Lori Cox, librarian of North Springs Charter High School, explained their textbook distribution process to me.

“Students come on Gear-up (open house) days and bring their schedule to the gym, where tables are set up with each course’s textbooks,” Cox said. “Each textbook has a barcode in the back and gets assigned to them and checked out like a library book. If they lose the book they pay full cost of replacing it.”

While it is understandable that a university is a much larger scale, and that textbook distribution might not be completely practical, there are other alternatives to the university providing physical textbooks for their students.

With the tablet costs on the decline as fancier models come out, it shouldn’t be hard for Georgia State to negotiate a deal with a provider to provide tablets to students for the duration of the year and provide textbooks in e-book format for free. Each tablet has a code and is checked out to the student like a library book. If the student loses or breaks the tablet, they must pay full cost for replacing it.

While the process would be up to the university to implement, the current student bookstore could be instead turned into a textbook library, and students could retain their jobs, they would just become student librarians instead.

The funds for purchasing the tablets may be raised via a mixture of student fees and fundraiser donations. Students pay around $277 per semester for athletic fees, but they might never walk into the Recreation Center or join a sports team over the course of their college career.

Instead, I believe that if the athletic fee is cut back slightly, and the amount cut is added to the technology fee, we can afford to make providing textbooks possible. While Athletics are fantastic, and I believe them to be an integral part of the University culture, I think that the proposed $300 million renovation of Turner field could be simplified and excess budget funds could be put toward something that would help all students to succeed academically.

The textbook struggle has been a problem for generations, and it’s time for the administration and the government to finally take a hand in helping decrease the fiscal challenges faced by students over the course of their university career.