UB students discuss struggle to pay for textbooks and class materials


Dalia Garcia, a senior environmental design major, changed her major from architecture as a freshman because she could not afford the cost of the materials.

Students majoring in architecture, engineering, media study, art and science must pay unique fees for labs and equipment. These high fees place an extra burden on some students who are already stressed about their academics. Some students, however, are able to find cheaper options for class materials.

Josh Erni, a first-year graduate student of architecture, said he has spent anywhere from $500 to a couple thousand dollars on supplies for projects and printing each semester.

“I ran out of the $30 they give you for printing by the second week of classes one semester. “I just had to reload and reload Campus Cash and I honestly have no idea how much I spent [over the semester].”

Students in most majors should budget $1,000 to $1,500 for class materials each semester, according to UB’s website.

Some students have found ways around purchasing expensive textbooks, equipment and class materials.

Qingquan Zeng, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said he spends roughly $300 on textbooks each semester by buying mostly used textbooks.

Mateusz Oramus, a junior computer science major, said he remembers buying a textbook for an Intro to Computer Science course at Erie Community College, which he never opened once but also never sold it to get money back.

“It just wasn’t worth [my time] to go through everything to sell it,” Oramus said.

Still, Oramus said he is “pretty happy” with how much he spends each semester.

Oramus said UB provides most of the software programs he uses for his major and he usually spends about $300 a semester on books.

“I think that’s pretty fair. A lot of the time I don’t even need to buy a book... I can find it online or from a friend,” Oramus said.

Art students face “significantly higher” fees, according to the UB website.

Jeff Sherven, an instructional support technician in the UB art department, said students should consider that an art lab fee enables classes to provide art supplies and equipment to students.

“With that lab fee, we are able to buy things more efficiently, things you can’t buy in the open market and it’s actually more cost effective for students and manageable for us to buy the supplies,” Sherven said.

Lab fees also include use of copiers, printers and reams of newspapers. The art lab fees vary from class to class, sometimes higher than $75, according to Sherven.

Although many art classes require a fee, some instructors, like Sherven, forego assigning textbooks for classes.

“I’m sure we’ve received some complaints from students over the years for the lab fees, but I think that’s because either they don’t know or else we don’t do a good job of communicating to them, all that the fee covers,” Sherven said.

Sherven said that students in any major should look at the individual costs of a class as an investment in their work.

Sherven said he is sensitive to the rising cost of tuition, and tries not to “pile on” equipment and class materials.

“If I can keep outside costs between $30 and $40, I’m happy,” Sherven said.

Students can use refunds from their financial aid to help pay for textbooks and equipment, according to Michelle Gonzalez, associate director of Financial Aid.

Gonzalez said financial aid reimbursements are normally distributed after the end of the add/drop period. Students can receive funds in the form of Campus Cash, which can be spent on books in the bookstore.

Sarah Crowley is the assistant news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubpectrum.com