College students face rising costs as they prepare to return to classes

Local News

It’s almost August, which means college students are starting to head to bookstores and other retailers to pick up supplies for the year.

According to the College Board, the average cost of books and supplies for undergraduate students in 2017 was $1,250.

The rising cost of college in general is perhaps most evident through the rising cost of textbooks – according to the Bureau of Labor, textbook prices have risen 1,041% since 1977.

We talked to several current and former college students about the challenges they face when it comes time to pay for the hefty bill.

“It could be anywhere from $150 to $200 depending on the type of book,” said Jasmine Boyle, a recent graduate of the University of Southern Maine. “If it was a really specific book, I pretty much had no choice other than to get it from the school bookstore and they could pretty much make it whatever price they wanted and I had to pay for it.”

In addition, students are often forced to buy access codes to use online resources. All of these expenses are forcing students to get thrifty.

“Depending on the class sometimes, I would wait a couple weeks to get the book,” said Angelica Boyle, who is heading into her senior year at Endicott College. “You don’t always need all of the books, or you can just find a cheaper one online, or use your friends’ as well.”

Back to school shopping can be one of the busiest times of the year for retailers – the National Retail Federation estimates that 2018 back-to-school spending could reach as high as $82.8 billion nationwide.

With orientation ongoing at the University of Vermont, the Catamount Store on Church Street has seen it’s share of new students stopping by the store to pick up gear.

“The whole family comes and they pick out a lot of sweatshirts, bumper stickers, lanyards, t-shirts, a lot of starting back to school, representing stuff,” said Kelly Darling, supervisor of the Catamount Store.

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