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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Inflated textbook prices call for University-provided resources


For every facet of our lives as students, the University of Mary Washington tries to develop some “relevant” fee. There’s a fee for printing, for laundry, for parking decals and for processing enrollment; the list goes on.

The greatest of the expenses, besides, of course, the actual tuition cost, is textbooks. The money we, as students, dish out for these books is astronomical, while the money we receive when we sell them back is minuscule in comparison – a tremendous depreciation for just a few short months.

I’m an English major, so I revere books and their capacity to translate knowledge and perspective, but I’m also a full-time student with multiple jobs, struggling to afford the expenses I accrue as a student.

While it is unreasonable to blame the University for the prices we pay for books, since it does not actually set the price, and there are other available resources, such as textbook rentals, there are programs which the University could implement to help students save money on books.

Kathy Sandor, the Retail Operations Manager at the University’s Bookstore, explained that the average prices of book orders varies from semester to semester, depending on which books the professors decide to use.

It follows, then, that improvements could be made.

Professors, especially those teaching courses that fulfill general education requirements, could work with their departments to put all texts online. Or, the University could buy and loan the books to students for free for those lower-level courses, and only charge students if the books were damaged in some way.

Professors could even continue to use older, cheaper editions, rather than force students to pay the high price of the newest editions. The possibilities are endless.

My point is merely this: we’re already putting ourselves into a great deal of debt by attending college. It would be a relief to know that we didn’t have to spend that extra $400-500 per semester to pay for books.



  1. JW

    English major – bah! Try buying science texts – which are constantly being updated – then complain about costs.