Textbooks not always covered by financial aid

Pradyot Sharma

Staff Writer

Each semester, many students use scholarships or financial aid to cover their expenses here at Troy. Students can use this money to buy textbooks from the campus bookstore, which eases their financial burden while attending college.

The process isn’t as smooth sailing as expected. Most types of financial aid require the students to buy certain prescribed textbooks for their purchase to be covered under the plan.

Any other book that they buy, which could potentially help them with their education, must be paid for out of pocket. For a student who has been awarded aid money for merit or need, that could end up being an unforeseen and burdensome expense.

“There are several types of scholarships that are given to students,” said Aliza McGee, the Troy University Barnes & Noble bookstore manager. “Students who receive GI and Vocational Rehab are only allowed to get books that are required for their scheduled classes. We require these students to provide us with their schedules before getting their books.”

“Another form of scholarship is excess financial aid, which is money that would be going to the student in a form of a refund after the cost of room and board, tuition, meal plans, etc,” McGee said. “Students can charge against that refund starting almost two months before classes start up until the add/drop date.  Students with this type of financial aid can also purchase school supplies, backpacks under $50 and reference books.”

“The school is responsible for setting the limits to what students can purchase with their scholarship money, so we must adhere to the school’s decisions on what can be purchased with scholarships,” McGee said.

Parker Guttensohn, a sophomore communication major from Montgomery who bought his books using the Alumni Scholarship, says that while there were a few hiccups along the way, he was able to purchase his books in a timely manner.

“I feel that the students should be able to purchase their textbooks and any additional books that would help them with their course,” Guttensohn said. “If I want to buy books for a course that are different from the ones that the professor recommends, I have to pay for that myself.”

Many professors at Troy tell their students that while there is a course textbook, they are welcome to use other books that help them better understand the course content.

Bethany Davis, a senior communication major and English minor from Demopolis, has been using financial aid to buy her books for the last five semesters.

“The first few years I did, it was really stressful, as I had to get a voucher and get my schedule printed from the financial aid office,” Davis said. “Since last year, though, I could just use my student ID at the cash register to get my books.”

Jeremy Burgess, a senior history major from Enterprise, has been using financial aid to buy books since his freshman year at Troy.

“The window for financial aid is a little short, and it could be an issue if you have to change classes the last minute, as some professors do not give you the syllabus beforehand,” Burgess said.

While the school has greatly improved its financial aid system, which has rewarded a lot of students and made it easier for them to attend school, there could still be some tweaks made to how book scholarships work. The school should consider letting students choose from a variety of books that can help them with their education, and not just the recommended books that are required for the semester.

The different departments concerned with aid through the GI Bill and the Vocational Rehab aid should also consider making learning more accessible, which means giving the recipients a greater flexibility in their choices for buying books using financial aid received through those programs.

Education should be about learning and not just procedure. Giving students more flexibility in their choice of textbooks can go a long way in impacting how much they learn.

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