UConn PIRG campaigns for affordable textbooks

News | The Daily Campus
The UConn Bookstore offers textbooks for all of the students' classes. They offer new, used, and digital copies of the book required for class. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)
The UConn Bookstore offers textbooks for all of the students’ classes. They offer new, used, and digital copies of the book required for class. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

UConn PIRG found that 50 percent of University of Connecticut students spend 100 to 300 dollars per semester on textbooks in 2017.

“Accessibility to education is very pressing, and a lot of people pay crazy amounts for their textbooks. With materials for classes costing very high amounts, students are being denied opportunities they should have,” Deevena Annavarjula, UConn PIRG’s Campaign Coordinator for affordable textbooks, said.

In an attempt to show that rising textbook costs are a pressing issue, the organization conducted a campus-wide survey last year. Their main points of research included how much students spent per semester, how often a textbook went without use and whether a class’ required materials deterred students from enrolling.

UConn PIRG polled 912 students, in majors ranging from political science to mechanical engineering.

According to PIRG’s report, 90 percent of students bought a textbook they never used, 82 percent reported that their textbook costs were not covered by financial aid, and about 25 percent of students cited textbook costs as a reason to not enroll in a class.

When informed of these statistics, students have said that the findings reaffirm their thoughts about textbook pricing and accessibility.

“Generally the price of textbooks have greatly increased, and I think this campaign will greatly benefit students who have a stressful time buying textbooks each semester,” first-semester communications major Lindsay Adams said.

Annavarjula said that the campaign has received widespread support from professors across campus, and the organization has documented 50 endorsements. She also said members of UConn PIRG have sat in on department meetings, and have an upcoming talk with UConn’s new provost Craig Kennedy

Annavarjula said students are welcome to help with their campaign, and to email either her or Erin McConnell if they have any further questions.

UConn PIRG has also had success in aiding with textbook affordability. One of their most notable accomplishments was helping pass a bill that allocated $5 million of the federal budget to the open education initiative. Annavarjula said the movement aims to create free online alternatives to high-cost textbooks. This change is estimated to save students across the nation upwards of $50 million.

“On paper, our end goal is that all introduction level classes have free access to required materials,” said Annavarjula. “Our main issue is visibility. A lot of students agree with our campaign, but just have not heard of it or do not know how to help.”


Joseph Piccolo is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.k.piccolo@uconn.edu.