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OPEN party wary of costs

BY KAITLIN DEWULF | APRIL 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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The OPEN Party is pushing to raise financial literacy among students.

In an unopposed race for the University of Iowa’s Student Government, the group is stressing the importance of college affordability.

“Increased financial literacy is one of the easiest ways to reduce college debt,” said vice-presidential candidate Jeffrey Ding.

Ding said it adds to OPEN’s twofold approach to college affordability that includes reducing initial costs for education and reducing after effects, such as debt.

With hope to expand college affordability for students, the OPEN Party plans to organize a textbook affordability movement by drawing awareness to the existing Federal Textbook Price Disclosure Law. The third provision of this law requires colleges to provide the list of assigned textbooks for each course during registration.

“Textbook costs are a big priority for students,” said presidential candidate Patrick Bartoski. “They want to make sure to get their books for the cheapest price, but that can be difficult.”

Bartoski said he wants to pass legislation that is student-mandated enforcing the university to post the information required under the law. He said this will give students ample time to find the best deal on textbooks, which increases college affordability.

“Students spend hundreds of dollars each semester on textbooks they typically only use for one semester, maybe two,” said Senate candidate Yeltsin Rodriguez. “Making textbook affordability a priority saves students money and makes life easier.”

OPEN intends to facilitate the enforcement of the Federal Textbook Price Disclosure Law through collaboration with faculty across departments and colleges, administration, and librarians to create an open source database for students, Rodriguez said.

Ding said the textbook affordability movement is an important measure because: it reduces the cost of textbooks created by an exploitative publishing industry, promotes open educational resources to encourage increased access to information, and limits the environmental footprint of textbooks by moving more educational resources online.

Rodriguez said the platform “Implementing Affordability” is arguably the most pressing issue facing current and future students here at the university.

Bartoski said one of his goals is to use the current UISG financial manager program to target incoming classes to instill a culture of reasonable spending.

Regent Larry McKibben said he is strongly supportive of the affordability initiative OPEN is putting into place. He said it should be a priority to make sure the students learn how to be careful in budgeting their own funds and expenses in their years of college.

“The sooner you learn during your four years, the better you’ll be,” McKibben said. “How to budget your spending is a lifetime process.”

Along with establishing the textbook affordability movement, OPEN plans to advocate financial literacy through education. With tools, such as the Return on College Investment Reality Check, Bartoski hopes to educate students about federal and private loans, credit cards, and safe spending.

“When most, if not all, students are concerned about paying their U-Bill,” he said. “It’s our job as prospective student senators and executives to acknowledge and address those concerns.”

Students can vote starting today at 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. Thursday by logging on to ISIS.


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