Archive for September, 2008

College students spend between $700 and $1,000 on new and used textbooks each year, according to the Student Public Interest Research Groups. If you are one of the many students looking for ways to economize on textbooks this year, we have good news. The college textbook market, which has long been derided for producing expensive textbook bundles with low resale values, may finally be exploring low cost alternatives for students.


In a recent column, Steve Rosen outlines how the Higher Education Opportunity Act requires publishers to “unbundle” textbook packages so that students can buy just the book or supplementary materials they need. The new law, which will take effect in July 2010, also requires publishers to disclose the price of textbooks to professors so they can make informed choices when selecting materials for their classes.


But some folks in higher ed aren’t waiting for the legislation to take effect. Check out this article in the New York Times about an economics professor at Cal Tech who is so fed up with shady textbook selling practices that he is putting his introductory economics textbook online for students and professors to download for free. The article goes on to list several online textbook repositories that permit the sharing of course materials.


Have you found other ways to get around high prices at your campus bookstore? Share your suggestions with us by clicking on the “Comments” button.


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During the busy start of the academic year, Debra Harber, Associate Dean of Financial Aid at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, took some time to talk to us about financial aid at UMW.

Briefly, what do you think is the most exciting or attractive feature of your institution?
The University of Mary Washington’s beautiful campus is located halfway between Richmond, Virginia and Washington DC, which makes it ideal for great cultural experiences and internships. The students and professors are the most exciting component on this campus because they are smart, talented, engaging and have diverse interests.

What is the single most important piece of financial aid information you think students should know?
Students and parents need to make sure they meet all filing and submission dates.

What is the most common financial aid mistake you see, and how can students and their families keep from falling into that trap?
A common mistake that students and parents make is not using the financial aid office staff members as the primary resource for financial aid information. This includes attending workshops, visiting university Web sites, and reviewing printed materials as well as talking with an aid counselor or administrator.

What is the most creative cost-saving method you’ve heard about from students?
Recently, there seems to be an increase in the number of bicycles and motorcycles on campus. Our student aides have indicated that they try to eat on campus and avoid going out to eat very often.

What is your favorite cartoon character and why?
Tweety Bird is my favorite cartoon character because no matter how hard Sylvester tries to capture him, Tweety always manages to outsmart him.

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