Illustration by Aida Irving

ASLC begins textbook subsidy for students

Last spring, the Associate Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) unanimously voted to implement a textbook subsidy which assists low-income students in paying for their textbooks for classes. The subsidy began during the Fall 2019 semester, and applications closed Sept. 15.

68 students applied for the subsidy, and $2,625 will be dispersed to all applicants.

Community Service and Relations Coordinator (CSRC) Mikah Bertelmann ’21, Student Organizations Coordinator Nick Gothard ’21 and former ASLC Senator Alex Webb ’22 were all involved in the implementation of the subsidy.

Bertelmann explained which students are eligible to receive the subsidy.

“Since it’s the first semester, we wanted to provide as many students with the subsidy as possible, so we are looking at different ways to do that,” Bertelmann said. “At the moment, anybody with a Pell Grant is eligible for the subsidy. Anybody without it can justify why they should be receiving the subsidy.”

Bertelmann elaborated on how much money each student will receive with the subsidy. 

“The way it is set up now is that there’s a certain amount of money we have, and so every student that applies who is qualified will receive an amount of money,” Bertelmann said. “It is  not equal per student, it is based on a percentage.”

The money for the subsidy came from the Student Organizations Committee, composed of members of ASLC. Gothard elaborated on the process of allocating funds.

“As soon as the bill was passed, Katie (Kruger ’21), who was the CSRC last semester, included it in their budget application,” Gothard said. “I can not remember how much they requested, but then when we allocated money to all the student organizations in April, the Student Organizations Committee funded a part of the amount of money that Katie had asked for, then that money is supposed to be used for the subsidy.”

The textbook subsidy was originally a part of Webb’s platform when he first ran for Senate in fall 2018. In spring 2019, he created the Textbook Affordability Ad Hoc Committee to try to get that subsidy in place. 

“I created an ad hoc committee, to essentially be a workgroup to try to make textbooks more affordable on campus and make that subsidy happen,” Webb said. 

Gothard further elaborated on the actions taken by this committee which go beyond the implementation of the subsidy.

“One element of the ad hoc committee was also reaching out to department chairs and different members of the faculty and sort of understanding what actions they have taken to reduce (prices) …  choosing a cheaper textbook options for their students,” Gothard said.

Bertelmann explained that in the future, the textbook subsidy might be implemented differently based on a committee review that will take place next spring.

“The way the bill was written was that the subcommittee, which was formed at the end of last spring, controls how it is allocated in the fall,” Bertelmann said. “But, in the spring, my CSRC Committee will look at it again, re-evaluate the process and see if we need to make any changes.”

Webb suggested that in the future, the textbook subsidy could receive more funding.

“Once this process has been done a couple times, it will probably be more deserving of more money, because people will see that it works,” Webb said.

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