OCC offers book help

Posted on March 25, 2009

Paying for school is hard during the recession and adding textbook prices to the mix makes it even harder.

In the ongoing battle for lower prices, teachers, administrators and students are all trying to find various ways to beat high-priced textbooks—from two-hour rentals in the library to matching Fairview Books lower prices on campus.

“A lot of people that are suffering from the economy come back to school,” Student Senator Kris Cutting, a 34-year-old radio broadcast major said. “Affordable textbooks are a way to get back in education.”

According to Cutting, the Associated Students of Orange Coast College is working on establishing a textbook rental program for fall semester. All the specifics have not yet been established.

He said the college’s bookstore may help a rental program by providing texts to be lent to students.

Vice President of Student Services Jess Craig said OCC administrators are concerned with the extra burden textbook prices can bring.

“I think in the Student Services we’re especially sensitive to the cost for students to go to school,” he said.

Craig said students are encouraged to take advantage of the programs on campus so they meet the overwhelming cost of education. Some programs available to students include EOPS, library book reserves, Orange Coast College Foundation grants and Cal WORKs.

Associated Students Bookstore Director Ryland Metzinger said he realizes the price of textbooks is an issue for students but added that there is a misconception that the management raises textbook prices however they want.

“We’re an easy target,” he said.

According to Metzinger, the bookstore has a fixed markup rate of what textbooks can cost.

Craig said that the markup from the publisher’s price is 25 percent, a reduced markup from the previous 27 percent when Barnes & Noble supplied OCC’s textbooks.

“When we contracted with Follett we tried to reduce the markup to save students money,” Craig said.

Metzinger said one of his main goals for the bookstore is to have as many used books as possible.

“We had our largest buyback ever in December ’08,” Metzinger said. “We gave out $375,000. I was so happy when I saw that total.”

Some of the factors that influence book prices, Metzinger said, are printing cost, author’s royalties and the extra cost of new editions.

“We simply order what (faculty) asks us to get,” he said.

During the upcoming summer and fall semesters, Metzinger said, textbooks at OCC will be sold at the same price Fairview Textbooks sells its books. The only catch is that students must know Fairview’s price of the exact textbook they want and it can’t be a different edition.

Metzinger said EOPS also works closely with the bookstore.

Part of what EOPS does for students is provide money to buy textbooks, Director of EOPS Steve Tamanaha said. Every semester, an estimated 1,500 students receive up to $275 from the state for textbooks.

To qualify for EOPS a student must have economic and education barriers and be an eligible resident of California, Tamanaha said.

In addition to the efforts behind lowering prices at the bookstore and EOPS assisting students with money, the OCC Foundation, campus jobs, the new Pirate Referral Program and other services can also aid students who can’t afford textbooks.

“We’re doing all we can to help students in this economy,” Craig said.

To take advantage of the foundation’s program, students just need to apply for book grants.

Clay Scholes, a student who received a grant from the foundation, said without the grant he would have to work more just to meet the cost of school.

“It’s quite a lot of money,” the 26-year-old economics major said.

Foundation Director Doug Bennett said the grant is for students who have problems with money or can’t get to the library for a reserve text.

Scholes said the process of receiving his grant was convenient and on top of that very quick and easy.

Mayra Lopez, 25, who is working toward becoming a childhood development professor, also receives money for books through the foundation. Lopez has two young children, a 2 year old and a 2 month old.

“I have a little one, so I have to head home as soon as I’m done here,” Lopez said.

The money for the grants comes from a $900,000 bequest left by late physical education instructor Shirley Brooke.

The book program was designated $800,000 and the other $100,000 was given to a scholarship in Brooke’s name.

Money from Brooke’s bequest also funds the library’s course reserves.

The books on reserve in the library help a lot of students, Bennett said.

There are more than 800 textbook titles and more than 900 total textbooks and workbooks on reserve for student use, the college librarians said.

“(The program) provides textbooks for heavily attended classes and on a student’s requests,” John Dale, the public services librarian said.

Textbooks can be checked out for two hours by students if they have their OCC ID card, Dale said. Textbooks that are used heavily have multiple copies.

If the book is not returned within two hours, the student will be fined 50 cents for every hour the book is held longer.

Faculty and students with an ID can also request books to be added to the collection by asking at the circulation desk, Dale said.

“It all sort of plays in together,” CalWORKs coordinator Vickie Hay said about the various programs provided to aid students on campus.

Hay informally works with the foundation by referring students who don’t qualify for any other form of financial aid.

For students who need money quickly, there is an emergency and interest-free loan of up to $200. The student must have paid their college service fee to qualify.

“It’s interest free and very accessible,” Dean of Students Kate Mueller said. “There are very few things you can say that about.”

Originally published in the Coast Report, Orange Coast College’s student-run newspaper.

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