U of I students fighting rising textbook prices - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

U of I students fighting rising textbook prices

by Bryan Goettel

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The spring semester is into its second week at the University of Iowa. That means many students are buying books. But textbook prices are rising at double the rate of inflation according to a recent report by the U.S. government accounting office.  U of I students have had enough.

As the books pile up, so do the costs.

"I'm paying about 700 dollars in books total this semester," said University of Iowa senior Aaron Jones.

"Probably around 450 dollars," said student Jennie Balkas.

"Roughly 625," said junior Mark Bowers.

Now University of Iowa students are fighting back. The Iowa Public Information Research Group -- better known as Iowa PIRG -- has launched a campaign to try and turn the page on high prices.

"We're hoping to get enough people where we can bring it to the university and make a huge difference, make them see that people are really upset about this issue," said Balkas, who is helping with Iowa PIRG's campaign.

Iowa PIRG is collecting signatures Wednesday and Thursday, having students list what they paid on books this semester.

"It's really bad when you buy a book at the beginning of the semester and it comes to the end of the semester and you can't even sell it back because they changed a word on page 78," said Jones.

A walk through the bookstore and it doesn't take long to see how the dollars quickly add up. A psychology book - 106 dollars, a teaching instruction book - 122, and a statistics book sells for 174 dollars.

Colleges across the country are coming up with creative solutions:

UCLA has started a textbook scholarship fund given out through a lottery.

UC Davis has offered to match any price a student finds locally or online.

And professors at Minnesota State Mankato have asked publishers for bids, taking the one that offers the lowest price.

Professors at Iowa are feeling the students' pain.

"125 dollars for a textbook is a lot of money," said professor Beth Ingram. "And if you can buy a substitute that works as well than why not save the 75 dollars."

This is the first semester Ingram has offered an online option. Students hope the university will take more steps to help cut costs.

"I do have a job on campus and I guess if I work about a month and a half it'll pay off the books," said Bowers.

A university spokesperson tells KWWL the bookstore is trying to help by offering more used books.

He says the real problem lies with the publishers who set the prices.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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