Students hit the books and the book prices hit back

Text purchases are a stunning lesson even before first class

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter



Higher education, higher costs

Clark College

Tuition for a full-time student at Clark College costs $1,216.58 per quarter, or $3,649.74 for three quarters, an academic year. That’s a 10 percent increase from last winter’s tuition.

Winter quarter enrollment so far is 13,447, compared to the final fall enrollment of 15,449.

“It will fluctuate a little bit,” said Julie Taylor from the president’s office.

Although cars were jockeying for the rare empty parking spaces Monday afternoon, there were some on-street spots available on Fort Vancouver Way. In addition, the college recently added about 100 parking spaces across Fort Vancouver Way near the “T Building,” which now houses the adult basic education programs.

WSU Vancouver

A full-time, undergraduate, in-state student at Washington State University Vancouver pays $11,386 in tuition and fees per year.

Spring semester enrollment is expected to be comparable to fall enrollment of 3,000 students. The college won’t have official numbers until the 10th day of the term.

The parking services office reported “plenty of parking,” said Nancy Youlden, vice chancellor for student affairs, who added that students can save time by purchasing parking permits online.

During fall semester, a WSU computer glitch delayed financial aid checks, causing students to receive their checks after the term started.

“We had challenges in the fall, but off to a much better start,” Youlden said.

On the Web:

Washington State University 360-546-9788

Clark 360-699-6398

Report by The Atlantic on the rising cost of

Thousands of students started back to Clark College and Washington State University Vancouver on Monday and were faced with a jaw-dropping reality: expensive college textbooks. Books have risen in price by 812 percent since 1978, according to a story in "The Atlantic" last week. That's more than health care, homes or inflation.

Amber Downing, 19, of Washougal stood in a long line of students snaking into the Clark College Bookstore. It was the first day of college for the Heritage High School graduate, who plans to pursue a nursing degree. She owns a Nook e-reader and was planning to buy less-expensive e-book textbooks.

Terra Wulf-Stanton, 33, who is working toward her registered nursing degree, said she is experienced at finding the best deal on college textbooks. For her psychology textbook, the bookstore offers several options. It costs $146.35 to buy a new book, or $109.80 to buy a used book. But the used books already had been snapped up by other bargain-hunting students. So she was considering renting her book, which would cost $84.85 for a new book and $47.75 for a used book.

Married couple Christina Garza, 31, and Lucas Mariscal, 36, pushed a shopping cart loaded with books and school supplies. It was Garza's first day at Clark, and she had three books: she was buying one new book and one used book, and renting the third.

"We try to provide options and give students choices that fit their budgets," said Monica Knowles, Clark College Bookstore manager. "Book rentals are popular."

The bookstore has been renting textbooks since 2008. By the end of the second week during fall term, the Clark College Bookstore had rented 4,682 books, said Knowles.

"That amounted to a savings of $188,569 for those students who rented the book rather than purchased a new book."

Electronic or e-books are offered for sale when they're available and approved by faculty, but not every textbook is available in e-book format.

A physics textbook can be purchased new for $164.55 or used for $123.45. A new book can be rented for $113.75, while a used book can be rented for $72.05. A fifth option for the text is to purchase the e-book for $72.45. But Knowles pointed out that the e-book can't be sold back to the bookstore at the end of the quarter, so the used rental may be the best deal.

"Everybody here recognizes how expensive textbooks are," said Knowles. "We try to bring in the costs as much as we can."

Susan Parrish: 360-735-4530;;