With the school year coming to an end, many students are already looking to next year and next year’s textbooks prices. However, Texas law prevents students from seeing their textbook prices until a month before school begins.
State House Bill 33 allows students to see class material and the price of textbooks 30 days before classes start. SB 810 was passed last legislative session and requires professors to submit open education resources course material. These bills aim to decrease costs and enhance transparency.
Roberto Preza, radio-television-film sophomore, said he thinks 30 days before class is not enough time for students to prepare, and getting the information before registration would be better.
“It’s a bit unfair for the students not knowing the prices sooner,” Preza said. “I guess some students are pretty tight financially so they like to budget their money, and waiting makes buying books that much harder.”
The University Co-op, the University-affiliated bookstore, and the Registrar’s Office list textbook information gathered from professors on the Co-op website.
Scholarly communications librarian Colleen Lyon said textbook prices at schools outside of Texas often aren’t known ahead of time.
“Sharing that information for courses early allows students to plan ahead and potentially avoid some of the stress associated with purchasing textbooks,” Lyon said in an email. “Being transparent also gives students time to come up with strategies for dealing with the cost of their textbooks.”
Lyon said SB 810 benefits professors as well. Open Education Resources are publicly accessible teaching materials professors use and typically have a license associated with them, which allows users to customize the material and then reuse it.
“This means a professor could remove content that isn’t relevant to their classes or even combine different resources to make something better and more comprehensive for their particular course,” Lyon said.
Professors have until April 15 to submit textbook information for the summer and fall semester and until Oct. 31 for next spring.
Gina Chen, journalism professor, said she uploads all of her readings onto Canvas because she hasn’t found one specific textbook for the class.
“As a professor and as a soon-to-be parent of a college student, textbooks are expensive,” Chen said. “If we can do things to make it more affordable or give students more options, that’s a good thing.”
Cambry Prichard, textiles and apparel senior, said her textbooks are expensive, but a lot of her professors work around that by providing free resources or textbooks they have written.
“I’ve never not taken a class because of textbook costs,” Prichard said. “But I don’t really see the point of holding the information until 30 days before the class starts.”
Lyon said she thinks the price transparency allows students to plan expenses for their tuition and rent relatively far ahead, but she knows they are expensive.
“I imagine it would be difficult to budget your money if you don’t know how much you might need for textbooks in a given semester,” Lyon said. “I have personally heard students say they would use the money saved on textbooks for food, transportation, childcare or even additional classes.”