Letter to the Editor: We need to look for new solutions like open source textbooks to take the burden off of students

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Alex Follett

Hello OSU,

I’m writing to you today to discuss an on-going problem within universities. Along with the exploding prices of tuition, textbook costs are putting a huge financial burden on students. With the new online age of education, students not only pay for textbooks, they pay for access codes just to do homework. These access codes don’t provide any information, they just provide grading services that teaching assistants could easily handle. Some of these access codes can cost students $50 or more. Over the course of four years, this can add up to thousands in unnecessary expenses. Access codes are just a new way for textbook companies to make money. On top of this, some professors have learned to leverage this system by selling their own textbooks. This for-profit approach to education increases barriers and reduces the value of a college education. The sole purpose of college is learning, not lining pockets. There is no free-market to protect students from this price-gouging. Once a student picks a school, they often can’t take their class credits to another institution. They are stuck with whatever extraneous costs come with the price of attending. Without the freedom of choice, it is up to universities, regulators, and professors to protect students. At Oregon State, we need to look for new solutions like open source textbooks to take the burden off of students. 

Sincerely,

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Alex Follett