Bookstore funds textbook scholarships

The admissions office is currently accepting applications for the brand-new Portland State University Bookstore Textbook Scholarships.

According to David Kobzina, admissions counselor and a coordinator for the scholarship selection process, the bookstore will offer up to 60 awards of $250 to $750 each. The fund may be used to purchase textbooks and school supplies from the PSU Bookstore for the 2006 spring and summer terms.

Applicants for the textbook scholarships must be fully admitted undergraduate or graduate students – quick entry students are not eligible.

Applicants must also be enrolled part time or full time as a graduate or undergraduate student at PSU, and must have a FAFSA report demonstrating financial need.

“That’s the key,” Kobzina said. “It really comes down to the statement of their financial status.” Kobzina added that applicants do not have to include a copy of their FAFSA, but simply must include a description of their financial needs with the scholarship application.

Certain subjects – particularly engineering, accounting, computer science and foreign languages – are known for having expensive textbooks and textbook packages, and for requiring new books each year.

“If students are studying subjects that have a pile of expensive textbooks, they should explain that in their financial statement,” Kobzina said. “That could definitely affect the amount of the award, if they’re selected.”

Applications are due by March 10, and time is of the essence. Applications are date and time stamped, and those returned earliest are given priority.

Textbook scholarship applications can be picked up at the financial aid windows in Neuberger Hall or in the admissions office in room 105 of Neuberger Hall (right behind the elevators).

The application may also be downloaded from the PSU scholarship web site at:

The scholarship applications will be reviewed by a special committee beginning on March 13. Currently, about 100 applications have been received.

According to Kobzina, an application process is also under development for fall term bookstore scholarships as well. The fall application should be available in April or May.

The scholarship program, originally hoped to begin in January, has been in the works since the PSU Bookstore became a nonprofit organization on Aug. 1, 2005.

Prior to Aug. 1, the bookstore was a cooperative, and paid a large chunk of corporate income tax. As a nonprofit, that tax status has changed, and store manager Ken Brown hopes to pass on the benefits to students.

According to Brown, the PSU Bookstore hopes to provide need-based scholarships to as many students as possible.

“Individual awards might be small, but we want there to be enough of them so that a student with demonstrated financial need will benefit,” he said.

The assistance will undoubtedly be welcomed as one way of dealing with dramatic rises in textbook prices.

Between 1999 and 2004, the total cost of attending PSU increased 7.8 percent. According to the National Association of College Stores, wholesale prices of college textbooks rose nearly 40 percent in the same time.

The publishing industry claims that textbook revisions are needed to maintain current material. New editions used to appear every five years; now most textbooks reprint every 2 ?” 3 years, with new editions costing up to 58 percent more than previous versions.

Not only do students pay more for their texts, but the rapid turnover forces older editions out of date, making it impossible for students to either sell back or purchase used versions.

Another cause of escalating textbook prices can be traced to the practice of “bundling,” that is, packaging textbooks with CDs, workbooks or other extras. While neither students nor professors may want the bundled items, bookstores may be forced to accept them in order to meet deadlines, and students must then purchase whatever ends up on bookstore shelves.

Nationwide, full-time undergraduate college students spent up to $900 each year on textbooks and related expenses. Many students mitigate the expense by purchasing used books from bookstores, campus exchanges or over the internet.

As a cooperative, the bookstore had provided $1 memberships. At the end of each fiscal year, members could submit their textbook receipts for a rebate. In reality, few members took advantage of the program.

As a nonprofit, the bookstore has done away with the rebate program and now offers free membership to students. Bookstore membership comes with a membership card that can be used at the bookstore like a debit card.

Students and parents can add money to the textbook cards in person or over the phone.