Students struggle with book prices

first_imgGarcia is one of millions of students nationwide who are realizing that school is hard – but paying for books can be harder. The National Association of College Bookstores reported that prices of college textbooks have skyrocketed nearly 40 percent in the past five years. In hopes of finding a way to address this issue, College of the Canyons will host a public hearing Monday. The forum was organized by the U.S. Department of Education and is part of a year-long study requested by U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita. “Textbook prices are particularly noticeable in California because our tuition at community colleges is the lowest in the nation,” said Eric Harnish, assistant to the president at College of the Canyons. “When you are paying $60 for a three-unit class that requires a $120 textbook, the price is very noticeable.” VALENCIA – Just one of Elvia Garcia’s textbooks cost her nearly $175. The 18-year-old Newhall resident is taking 16 units at College of the Canyons this semester, and with classes like calculus, physics and history, her book bill was more than $400. Considering she makes just $350 a month, it’s no surprise she’s had to make payments on her texts. “There is still one book I haven’t even bought,” Garcia said. Harnish said college bookstores have nothing to do with textbook prices – those are set by publishers – but the college holds frequent outreach programs to advise students about financial aid and scholarships to help pay for education. But most of COC’s 19,000 students have little or no help struggling with the price of books. Kristina Davey, a counselor for COC’s Extended Opportunity Program, said the textbook issue is huge for students living in Santa Clarita – already an expensive place to live. “Most students I know are already working one to three minimum-wage jobs just to cover rent. That doesn’t even include books,” Davey said. The EOPS-CARE program Davey works for helps qualifying students – usually low-income students who are the first generation in their families to go to college – by giving them book vouchers. The first semester students get $150, and returning students get $300. Davey said the vouchers are good as gold for most students, but they still don’t cover all book expenses. “The average students spends anywhere from $300 to $500 a semester on books, with math and science books being at the top of the price list,” Davey said. Students have also begun buying books online. Web sites such and sell used books at rates 30 percent to 70 percent cheaper than most college bookstores. But, Davey said, many times Web sites cannot keep up with the pace of new textbook editions, and new editions are always more costly than earlier ones. Garcia, who is a freshman biochemistry major and plans to be a doctor, knows her book expenses are only beginning. “Many of my friends can’t even afford to buy any books,” Garcia said. Still, students find ways to be resourceful. “We just share books.” [email protected] (661) 257-5254 If you go A public hearing on textbook prices will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday in the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center, 26455 N. Rockwell Canyon Road. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more