Proposed S.C. bill targets price of college text books

Proposed S.C. bill targets price of college text books

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) - As the price of getting a college degree grows, lawmakers in South Carolina are working on a plan to lessen the financial burden.

Students and their families pay the price for a college education in South Carolina. Tuition in the Palmetto State is among the highest in the Southeast.

On top of those fees are the cost of supplies.

"My books cost about $700, so that was kind of a toll on my bank account," USC student Jack Adkisson says.

Some students call it sticker shock.

"It's very frustrating, honestly. Like, you walk into a bookstore and you see those prices and you're just kind of taken aback like, 'Are you kidding me it's paper!'" he says.

For example, one political science book's price tag is $189.95 for one class. Imagine paying that for four to six classes two semesters each year. The University of South Carolina calculates the cost of going to school for the 2016-2017 year is $11,854 for in-state students and $31,282 for out-of-state students.  The school estimates books and supplies can cost $1,000 each year.

One bill hopes to lighten the financial burden.

"Either the students or the parents, when they leave college, they have an astronomical amount of debt they're trying to deal with," Democratic Sen. Nikki Setzler of Lexington County says. " 
Setzler's bill would require professors to disclose textbook prices, whether it will be used, whether it is required or recommended and whether there is another version of the book that can be used. This information will be required to be provided at the time or before students register for class.

"And when they're trying, they're struggling to get the cost of higher education and go to school, this would try to alleviate some of that additional cost of textbooks," Setzler says.

The bill would regulate that a textbook should be used for at least three years per subject, like core classes; and two years for upper level classes.

The goal of this is to build a buy-back system that works.

Students say they can't re-sale books now and get more than about a fourth of the price they paid.

"Anything that wouldn't make me pay that much money, honestly, I'd be fine with," Adkisson says.

Setzler filed a similar bill last year, but it didn't pass. He says he's trying again, because last year parents and students were supportive but book companies pushed back.

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