College students outraged over $999 online textbook

University defends the purpose behind the pricing

Maddy Meaux via Facebook

LAFAYETTE, La. - A pricey online textbook brought outrage from a group of students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Students signing up for introductory accounting courses experienced an extreme case of sticker shock when they saw the $999 price for the textbook "Financial and Managerial Accounting, 3rd Edition" from publisher Wiley.

The online textbook is being used for Accounting 201 and 202 courses at UL-Lafayette during the academic year, according to a report published by Inside Higher Ed.

Sophomore Maddy Meaux signed up for the introductory course and discovered the extraordinary price.

Meaux took to Facebook and posted a screenshot on the "UL Ragin Cajuns Book Swap" group which said, "Can anyone explain why the WileyPlus online code for ACCT is $1000?"

According to Inside Higher Ed, Meaux's fellow students were quick to react. They took to Twitter to voice their displeasure and soon after students and others were accusing UL-Lafayette of scamming students.

"As a university, y'all should be absolutely ashamed," read one tweet. "Do you understand that we are already drowning in debt from student loans to pay the high tuition?"

As it turned out, the $999 price was not a glitch.

The university provost released a statement which said faculty members in the accounting department wanted students to buy print textbooks so they could easily work through exercises in class without using laptops or tablets.

But, rather than offering a print-only option, the university said the publisher and the accounting department wanted to discourage students from buying the online version by setting the price astronomically high.

Both the university and publisher claimed the $999 price was just a "placeholder" and that no one would actually pay that much, but Inside Higher Ed reported the incident caused uncertainty and anger among students who are just trying to purchase the correct items at the best price.

While the online-only version of the textbook was priced at $999 in the Wiley marketplace, a bundled print and online option was available from the college bookstore for $253.25. 

Meaux bought the cheaper print option from the college bookstore but said she still found it expensive. In addition to the $253.25 textbook, she had to buy a homework packet costing $59.75.

"Books should not be this expensive when you are already paying a ton for tuition," Meaux said.

The university responded to criticism on social media last week. Officials posted an explanation on Twitter saying it should have done a better job explaining the rationale behind the pricing.

The instructor for the course did not respond to requests for comment.



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