Student Financial Health Protection Act

=== Student Financial Health Protection Act ===

— Introduction —

It is far too common in the modern landscape of education for students to be forced to buy specific textbooks, technological aids, and/or online subscription services (“class study materials” hereforth) in order to keep up with class requirements. Class study materials are often enforced through departmental policies. These policies are created as the result of deals struck between the university departments and companies providing the class study material. Universities buy these materials at wholesale prices, receiving kickbacks for continued orders of these class study materials. They then turn around and sell the class study materials to students at greater than MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price).

Shady business practices include, but are not limited to, the following example(s). A department will enact a policy that a professor must demand the use of TEXTBOOK from Brand A, in the latest edition, along with the supplementary subscription code (which only comes with a new book or can be purchased separately for often $80+). It is widely known that textbook editions do not change a lot year to year, meaning that one could use older editions of the book. The problems and exercises given in the online subscription services are often similar if not exactly the same as those found in the physical book. As a result, the online component is only beneficial to the teacher as it automatically grades homeworks and exams. As a result, instead of spending maybe $20 for a used copy of an older edition, the student ends up paying many times that for either a new copy with the subscription code or a rental and separate purchase of said code.

Another example includes the use of technological aids at the expense of the student. One such device is the iClicker which allows the teacher to prompt a question to the class and students hit ABCD on their remote, automatically sending the responses to the master console at the front of the class. Live feedback is given to the students. Instead of the university bulk purchasing the remotes and lending them every class to the students, students are forced to purchase them at a premium in the university bookstore or used online (at their own expense).

— Bill Body —

1. Public universities cannot engage in private business dealings with class study material manufacturers, distributors, or any other legal entity which operates in a business involving class study materials. Departments should not be allowed to engage in activities deemed to be anti-consumer/anti-student; detrimental to the financial health of the students who are already paying to be in attendance to the particular public institution in question.

2. Public universities cannot enforce policies which mandate the use of specific class study materials (e.g. newest edition of a given book, forced usage of online services, or forced use of technological aids at ones own expense). Students should have the option to utilize older editions of a book which are less of a financial burden on them, as well as the instructor working with the student to assign homework/assignments from said book they have purchased to be of EQUAL WEIGHT to that from any SUGGESTED materials on the course syllabus.

3. Public universities cannot charge a premium for online-only courses. Online courses do not use a physical space and are allowed to use pre-recorded lectures from years passed. As a result, no real additional expenses are footed by the institution. Therefore, no student should be forced to pay several hundred dollars extra for deciding to take the online version of a course.

4. Public universities should be mandated to “refund” a certain amount of tuition to students who perform at a certain, satisfactory level [NEED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THIS “SATISFACTORY LEVEL” IS].

5. Public universities should be prohibited from enforcing such enrollment classifications as “part-time” or “full-time” (i.e. enrollment credit minimums) for how they charge tuition to those who may not be able to enroll full-time due to personal reasons or limitations.

6. Public universities should be banned from rushing students to complete their degrees in 4 years, leading to unethical enrollment practices which ultimately lower the overall performance of the students.

7. Public universities should be prohibited from charging fees to students for services which they do not actively engage with (e.g. health & fitness if you do not use the campus clinic or gym).

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