Ohio legislators propose bill to decrease cost of textbooks
By: Alise Jarmusz – Director of Marketing and Digital Strategy
Ohio Rep. Michael Stinziano, D-Columbus, and Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington, introduced a bill in late August to make textbooks exempt from the state’s sales tax, according to the Dayton Daily News and The Columbus Dispatch.
“Representing so many students, any opportunity to give them a little more money is a good idea,” Stinziano, whose district includes seven colleges and universities, told The Dispatch.
Duffey believes that taxing textbooks should not be a common practice.
“Nobody would ever suggest that tuition should be taxed, and books, to me, are part and parcel of tuition,” Duffey told The Dispatch.
The Ohio state sales tax is 5.75 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. The average American student spends $563 per year on textbooks, according to the National Association of College Stores. With the state sales tax removed, students could save about $32 per year.
Under the proposed bill, county sales taxes will still apply.
Catherine Mix, associate director of University of Dayton financial aid, believes the proposed bill would be “a wonderful benefit for students.”
“It is in line with other educational tactics and benefits,” she continued, “so it’s really a way to help students save some money.”
The bill is far from being passed by the state house and senate and will not be finalized until Gov. John Kasich signs it, according to the Dayton Daily News.
The University of Dayton already provides students with many other ways to save money on textbooks.
One of the main aids for students is the textbook scholarship, which is worth $500 each semester for eight semesters, according to Mix.
“The textbook scholarship is designed to help students pay for the cost of their books and have them for use in the classroom,” Mix said.
Julie Banks, the University Retail Operations Manager, explained that the scholarship, which is used by about 80-90 percent of students, is open to almost all prospective students interested in enrolling at UD.
“For any student who completes the FAFSA by the deadline and then makes an on-campus visit, they are eligible for the textbook scholarship,” Banks said.
According to Banks, there are only a few restrictions on who can use the scholarship. This includes students who receive tuition aid because of parents employed by the university, student athletes and students who are part of ROTC.
Most students spend between $300 and $500 on books each semester, with the exception of engineering students, students in upper level classes and visual arts students, whose books and supplies “tend to have a higher bill,” Banks said.
UD is highly ranked in the country for textbook savings. The UD Bookstore has one of the highest national rankings for number of used books offered and has one of the best buyback programs nationally.
“We are always trying to make sure that we have as many used books as possible at the lowest price possible,” Banks said. “We give back close to $2 million every semester back to the students…As long as there is a demand for the book, we pay 50 percent of the new book price whether or not the student purchased it new.”
In addition, the UD Bookstore offers a comparison service on their website that allows student to compare UD Bookstore textbooks with other online sellers.
Banks is also excited about the proposed tax-free textbook bill.
“Buying textbooks ends up being a high dollar value purchase, and so the percentage that is taxed is fairly high. It’s a purchase and investment for your education,” she said. “I think it would be great if it was tax free. It would be very easy for us to facilitate those transactions. I’m all for it.”
The average college student spent $563 on textbooks during the 2014-2015 academic year, according to a study by the National Association of College Stores. That can become quite expensive over four years, totaling $2,252 on textbooks. How can college students save money on these necessary materials?
• Check the library: Your textbook may be available for check out at Roesch Library or through interlibrary loan. Make sure to check the book out ahead of time so you’ll have the book right when you need it.
• Buy used books: Many of the textbooks on sale at the UD bookstore can be purchased in used condition. This is a great option for saving money, as used books at UD are usually 25 – 30 percent cheaper than new books.
• Rent textbooks: Some of the textbooks in the UD bookstore are available for rent—just check the shelf tags for each course. Renting is usually cheaper than purchasing a textbook outright (unless you need the book for multiple semesters). Just remember that when you rent a book from the UD bookstore, you can’t use your $500 textbook scholarship! Credit cards only.
• Sell back your books: The UD bookstore offers Textbook Buyback, an opportunity to sell back your textbooks for cash. The bookstore will buy back books all year, although major Buybacks are held at the end of each semester. You can even download a free app on Google Play and iTunes to see how much cash the UD bookstore will give you for your used books.
• Buy an e-book: E-books are often less expensive than bound books. You can purchase e-books through the UD bookstore or on websites such as Amazon.