Georgia Regents University junior Ashley Pacheco racked up about $800 at the campus bookstore Monday.
With the bulk of her course load in history and anthropology this semester, Pacheco is required to purchase 18 books; The most expensive, a textbook for her physical anthropology class, registered at $179.
The hefty charge will be paid through Pacheco’s student loans and other financial aid, she said.
“She’s taking out a loan, on top of a loan, and then she’s selling her kidneys,” said her friend, Johnny Hampton, who accompanied Pacheco on her trip to the JagStore at GRU’s Summerville campus.
Despite the extra expense, Pacheco leaned toward buying new books instead of renting or purchasing used.
“Especially with my history books, I usually keep them anyway, so it really is an investment,” she said. “I know there’s places like Chegg and other places online where you can get them, but I’d rather just get them here because it’s more convenient.”
Hampton, who had bought three books last week, said his cost totaled about $300, including a $200 French book. The English major and veteran is able to use an annual $1,000 book stipend, split into $500 each semester, that’s attached to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
“A lot of times I do spend about $800 per semester, so it helps, but it doesn’t fully cover,” Hampton said. “This semester, I got kind of lucky.”
According to a 2014 survey released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Education Fund, college textbook costs have increased by 82 percent in the last decade and have caused 65 percent of student consumers to decide against buying a textbook.
On average, college students will spend about $1,200 on books and supplies this year, according to the College Board. Still, the College Board reported that spending growth is declining as more students are turning toward used-book markets, book-rental programs and digital textbooks to fight back against high prices set by publishers.
Lanny Williams, an employee at the JagStore, said most students choose to buy used or rent, a service the store started offering last fall that can cut book prices in half.
“Books are high,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have no control of that. We’re really trying to get more books used so that students have the option to rent because that seems to be the trend.”
GRU freshman Harleigh Sohler was among a crowd of students who stopped by the bookstore on the first day of class Monday in favor of alternate cost-saving methods.
She said that while most of her $400 spent on books was through the store, she is also trying out Amazon’s textbook rental program this semester.
“Some books they have here, you can’t rent or you can’t buy used,” she said. “You only buy new, and that’s when everybody gets on Chegg and Amazon because the price difference is so drastic.”
For junior Brittany Tinker, buying used is the way to go. Out of six books she paid about $300 for Monday, the criminal justice major only bought one new – and that’s because the material for her online math class wasn’t offered any other way.
“Textbooks are expensive, but that’s expected,” she said. “I just wish sometimes we had more options for rent. They do have some choices in here for rent. Just none of them benefits me.”