The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Textbook scholarship nears reality

By Amy Ledig

Hurting over the cost of textbooks? Help may be on the way.A textbook scholarship initiative that would provide 27 to 28 students with loans and grants to defray the cost of textbooks is nearing the final planning stages and should start next fall, Tray said. The pilot program will offer students about $600 a year, broken up into $300 each semester.

The Financial Aid office would select the students receiving help with costs. Brian Lindeman, the director of Financial Aid, said that a process has not been worked out yet, but would target the highest need students. Through financial aid documents, the office already has information about who these students are, but Lindeman said he was not sure yet how they would be selected, or if they would have to go through an application process explaining why they would need the funds.

The program will primarily be for first years and sophomores. Tray said this is because, based on feedback from students, faculty and parents, these students tend to be the most vulnerable to high price textbook costs due to lack of knowledge about costs and available resources.

“This is not to say that if a junior or senior is in need, they could not apply for this scholarship, more that it will be predominantly available for first and second years,” Tray said.

The plan has been in the works for since last fall, when Tray took it to the Development Office to see about funding the proposal. Tray said that Laurie Hamre is in the process of getting permission for the funds they discovered to be used for the program.

Lindeman during the course of his conversations with Tray and other students, they have always been agreement that the high cost of textbooks is a problem. The issue was how best to address it.

“The question was more, can we find a source of funding, and if we can, is this the best thing to spend it on?”

He said that the program would help to “put a dent” in the problem of students dealing with high textbook costs, but that it is a “baby step.”

“It’s not yet clear if the supply will meet the demand,” Lindeman said. “I suspect it will not be enough to completely solve the problem.”

The proposed plan would offer a mix of loans and grants. According to Tray, the loan program would be sustainable for five years with the potential for renewal after that.

“Students who are in desperate need of a grant will get a grant,” Tray said. “Those who just need some money for the meantime will be able to get a loan.”

The advantage of a loan program, Lindeman said, is that is it “something we can sustain for a lot time at a low cost.” While this would not lower the net cost of textbooks, it would help students get their hands on books at the beginning of the semester as opposed to having to wait for money to come in or choosing not to buy the book.

“Obviously, grants are better than loans, but grants are non-replenishing,” Lindeman said.

The program will help a number of Macalester students who most need it, but there are others on the horizon that will attempt to address a wider swath of the student body. Other possibilities being worked on by MCSG and Macalester’s chapter of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group include improving the library textbook reserve program. MCSG passed a resolution calling for a public booklist, and Tray said that by the 2010-11 school year, the school will, in accordance with federal regulations, publicize a booklist for students. Students from MCSG and MPIRG asked faculty to be more price-conscious when they choose books at the February faculty meeting, and Web Services and the Sustainability office are thinking about putting together something similar to Craig’s List on 1600 Grand that would give members of the Macalester community a way to post items for sale.

“This proposal is only part of the endeavors to increase textbook accessibility,” Tray said.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • O

    Olivia BlackSep 9, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!