UCCS Bookstore: Are students getting the best deal?

Tom Baker 

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     The UCCS Bookstore is a one-stop-shop for students to get their books, supplies, spirit gear and convenience items. But how do their prices compare to other major retailers, and are students getting the best deal? 

     Shopping for textbooks at the bookstore has its benefits. According to their website, they ensure they can provide the right books for UCCS classes, work with many payment options and provide a one-stop-shop for all necessary course material.  

     However, historically, college students aren’t the most financially secure demographic, and convenience comes at a cost. 

     The average price for a freshman’s first two semesters of books can be calculated using specific majors’ recommended courses by semester from the UCCS website; for example, the top three majors at UCCS are business, nursing and psychology, according to Niche.com graduation numbers. 

     The average semester textbook cost from the bookstore in one of the top three majors is $556.25. If the student were to purchase those same books from Amazon, on average, they would pay $583.90. 

     There were few instances where Amazon offered lower prices than the bookstore, so price checking with major retailers can offer better deals. Students can also save money by renting or buying used textbooks. 

The UCCS Bookstore on average is 89.9% more expensive than Walmart for the same or similar products, photo by Kate Marlett.

     In some cases, price comparison isn’t possible because some majors’ required books are only available through UCCS, while some classes instead use open-source material that comes at no cost to the student. 

     Some classes at UCCS use “Day One Access” online textbooks and include the cost in the student’s bill for the semester. However, students can opt out of this automatic charge and purchase the textbook at another retailer. 

     The bookstore offers a price comparison tool on its website as well where students can compare prices from various online sources. Buying from these sources through the UCCS Bookstore website still benefits UCCS. 

     For common school supplies, such as writing utensils and notebooks, the UCCS Bookstore on average is 89.9% more expensive than Walmart for the same or similar products. The most significant disparity came from pens, paper and notebooks sold at the bookstore. 

     While a composition notebook is $3.19 at the bookstore, students can find that same composition notebook at Walmart for 50 cents. Likewise, single-subject spiral notebooks are 99 cents at the bookstore and only 25 cents at Walmart. Similar price differences can be found with pens and pencils. 

     However, the bookstore is a better option for graph paper and some mechanical pencils, with discounts averaging 39%. It is also cheaper to buy multi-subject notebooks from the bookstore, where the discount averages 32% for three and five subject notebooks. 

     The bookstore is similar in price for most items you would find at a convenience store, but some of the personal health items and drinks are significantly more expensive. 

     Most of the prices for drinks at the bookstore are the same as at a convenience store, if not cheaper. However, we found the exception with energy drinks. On average, Monsters, Red Bulls and Rockstars are 71% more expensive than the same products at 7/11. 

     Everyday hygiene items such as lip balm and tampons are over 100% more expensive than if you bought them at Walmart. 

     According to their website, buying from the bookstore supports UCCS students because proceeds help fund scholarships, UCCS clubs and student employee salaries. 

     The bookstore offers students a convenient option at competitive rates for most products. Besides school supplies, students can be sure they are paying similar, if not discounted, rates for their books and snacks if they are in one of the top three majors at UCCS.