Each year, new and old students alike endure the same grueling line at the school bookstore that inevitably makes our wallets lighter. With already spending hundreds of dollars at the bookstore, the last thing any of us are thinking about is how we are paying for school.
This past August, President Bush signed and put into effect the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. The new bill will target textbook prices and will also simplify the financial aid process and will make grants available to lower income students.
The bill will force textbook publishers to make “unbundled” versions of their books. What this means is that never again will you have to spend up to $150 on a textbook, workbook and CD-ROM set. Now you can shop around at different sites like Amazon.com and Half.com and purchase your textbooks second hand for a much cheaper price and then buy the workbook and CD separately.
“I think it’s perfect because I am flat broke,” Kevin Wallmen, sophomore communication major said. Wellman is one of the many that had to spend close to $500 on his books for his five classes.
What some students might not realize is that some schools, including Cabrini, make their own books for some subjects and the only place to find them is at the school store.
“Now Cabrini is making their own books for classes. Like my math book, I had to buy 113 and 114 together and it was at still at least $100,” Kevin Ambrose, junior criminology major, said. “You can’t even buy them anywhere else and you can’t even sell it.”
Like Wellman, Ambrose spent upwards of $500 this semester on books.
“We don’t have the funding to help students with books because that is something that students are presumed to be earning on their own through summer jobs,” Mike Colahan, director of financial aid, said.
Colahan said that he and the school have been “advocating students to get their books second hand” for a long time.
Cabrini only requires students to fill out one form for financial aid whereas larger schools tend to get more complicated with their process and that is where people start getting headaches.
Part of what Congress is trying to do to simply the process, is to link the FAFSA data with the IRS. The main problem that keeps popping up is the two-year information gap.
Whenever a student fills out a FAFSA form, it requires the student to input their families previous years income. This information is then looked at and verified with the IRS. The government is trying to link the FAFSA data and the IRS data together. The problem is that instead of looking at the previous years income they would be looking at income from two years ago.
“People’s income is bound to change in two years therefore it would make the income data inaccurate,” Colahan said.
“It’s cool if they want to simplify the process if they can, but they haven’t been able to do it yet because you will never be able to get the department of education and the IRS to figure out the two year gap,” Colahan said.
Having been in the financial aid business himself for 25 years, Colahan would really like to see some changes occur but he has his doubts.
“If they want to simplify the process, who wants to stand in the way of that? I have found over the years that if you simplify the process it will only make things inaccurate.
It’s like saying, “Hey let’s simplify Wall Street and deregulate! What could go wrong?”