textbook affordability

BGSU faculty committee finds no single solution to textbook costs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News No one solution exists for addressing the costs of textbooks. The Textbook Affordability Committee report to the Faculty Senate recommended a multipronged approach that built on what is already being done at Bowling Green State University and approaches taken at other institutions. The report was presented to the Faculty Senate Tuesday by Ellen Gorsevski, who chaired the committee. The senate voted to accept the report and discharge the committee. In a separate vote senators submitted the report to the administration saying it should be used to guide the university’s policy on textbooks. BGSU and other state universities have been feeling pressure from Columbus politicians over the costs of textbooks. One proposal that worked its way through the legislative process before being killed would have limited the cost of textbooks to $300 a year and would have required universities to pay for textbooks. In the end, the legislature left it up to universities to develop policies to reduce the costs of textbooks. “That could change,” Gorsevski said. “This is an evolving issue.” The problem with these state approaches, Gorsevski said, is that they lacked data to back them up. How much the “object formerly known as a textbook” costs students and families is hard to determine. Now texts come bundled with digital and online resources, which can drive up the costs. The committee did some number crunching, but it is still uncomplete. One of its recommendations for the administration is to determine these costs, and then post those numbers so they are easily accessible to students and their families. What the committee did determine was a cap on spending would result in students in majors with low textbook costs, such as the Humanities, would end up subsidizing those in majors that typically have higher costs, such as the STEM disciplines. She said that as the committee studied the issue “we discovered many of you are doing a fantastic job.” The committee came up with “a flexible menu of options” built on what’s already being done. These include use on “open…

Paying for textbooks could put a dent in BGSU budget

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University could take a significant financial hit if a state budget proposal requiring colleges to pay for students’ textbooks becomes law. At a session of the BGSU Faculty Senate in late February President Mary Ellen Mazey said that even with the option of a new $300 annual textbook fee, the cost of providing textbooks would be significant. Mazey reported that the estimates for state aid are a 1-percent increase this year with a freeze in the second year of the biennial budget. She also expects a freeze on tuition and fees, other than the possibility of the new textbook fee. No one, she said, knows how much paying for textbooks would cost. “I’ve heard as low as $6 million and as high as $18 million. That could be a major, major budget cut if we go in that direction.” She noted that the governor had already instructed universities to find ways to control textbook costs. As a result the university has surveyed what it now does to contain those costs and has formed a textbook affordability committee to study how the university could do more. As reported to Faculty Senate late last year, it was clear the BGSU was already doing a lot to help reduce the cost of books for students. The bookstore offers a price comparison program. The library had purchased copies of texts for some of the most popular courses with the most expensive books and makes them available for use in the library. Students can also get books through OhioLink, a cooperative library system that connects higher education libraries in the state. Some faculty have also opted to use older editions of books, which are available for much less, and then augmenting those with other materials to keep current. Some have also put copies of the books on reserve at Jerome Library for students to use. The textbook committee, which is chaired by Ellen W Gorsevski, of the School of Media and Communication, is seeking more information about how much textbooks cost….