Price transparency of course materials help students plan and budget for success

Today, CALPIRG Students at UCLA Radha Patel testified in support of AB 2624 by Assembly Ash Kalra to expand price transparency of course materials for college students. 

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Jenn Engstrom
State Director, CALPIRG

Author: Jenn Engstrom

State Director, CALPIRG

213-251-3680 x322

Started on staff: 2010
B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, University of California, Berkeley

Jenn directs CALPIRG’s advocacy efforts, and is a leading voice in Sacramento and across the state on protecting public health, consumer protections and defending our democracy. Jenn has served on the CALPIRG board for the past two years before stepping into her current role. Most recently, as the deputy national director for the Student PIRGs, she helped run our national effort to mobilize hundreds of thousands of students to vote. She led CALPIRG’s organizing team for years and managed our citizen outreach offices across the state, running campaigns to ban single-use plastic bags, stop the overuse of antibiotics, and go 100% renewable energy. Jenn lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys spending time at the beach and visiting the many amazing restaurants in her city.

My name is Radha Patel, I’m a UC student and the Chapter Chair of CALPIRG Students at UCLA who runs our Affordable Textbooks campaign. CALPIRG is a public interest advocacy group with student chapters at college campuses across the state. 

I’m proud to be here today to support AB 2624, which will help college students like myself better plan for our academic success by expanding price transparency of course materials. 

Course materials are one of the largest out of pocket expenses students face, and one of the least predictable. One summer I had to spend over $200 on one class.  I depend on financial aid every quarter, but none of the aid I receive can be directly spent on my course materials. This makes it hard for me to plan and budget and risk losing money for my meals and basic living expenses.

That’s why it’s so important that students know how much course materials will cost before they register for classes. 

Thankfully, the Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act requires campuses receiving federal funds to disclose textbook costs on the course schedule.  However since this law’s enactment, course materials have expanded to include digital homework platforms and other materials not included under the law. For example one quarter I had to spend $125 for an online homework platform.

AB 2624 closes this price transparency gap. 

This full disclosure of course material costs on the course schedule will help students better plan and budget for our education. Having this information ahead of time also helps students save money on shipping costs. The price of books get more expensive when I am informed of my course materials one to two weeks before classes start because the cost of shipping increases the faster I need the materials, leaving me less time to save.

For these reasons, I encourage your aye vote. 

Jenn Engstrom
State Director, CALPIRG

Author: Jenn Engstrom

State Director, CALPIRG

213-251-3680 x322

Started on staff: 2010
B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, University of California, Berkeley

Jenn directs CALPIRG’s advocacy efforts, and is a leading voice in Sacramento and across the state on protecting public health, consumer protections and defending our democracy. Jenn has served on the CALPIRG board for the past two years before stepping into her current role. Most recently, as the deputy national director for the Student PIRGs, she helped run our national effort to mobilize hundreds of thousands of students to vote. She led CALPIRG’s organizing team for years and managed our citizen outreach offices across the state, running campaigns to ban single-use plastic bags, stop the overuse of antibiotics, and go 100% renewable energy. Jenn lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys spending time at the beach and visiting the many amazing restaurants in her city.