UT stands out by not providing free printing

Siara Shoemaker

Of all the major public universities in Texas, the University of Texas at Austin is the only one that does not provide any form of free printing credit. Even smaller universities in the UT System, such as UT-El Paso and UT-San Antonio, have credit systems in place. Since it is still common for professors to require printed out materials for class, UT-Austin should provide students with an allotment of free printing each semester.

Current printing costs require payment of 10 cents for each black-and-white single-sided sheet.  Students can pay for this with Bevo Bucks or via debit or credit card through the online My Print Center system, which requires a $5 prepaid minimum.

Although UT has more than 50,000 students, many other large universities are able to provide their students with some form of free printing. Texas A&M has the greatest number of students enrolled at a single university in Texas, yet the school is able to provide its students with a printing allowance of $30 a semester at the cost of 9 cents per sheet. Even better, Texas State provides its students with 2,500 free pages per semester.

Chris Carter, director of organizational effectiveness of UT Libraries, says that “The cost of printing at the libraries pays for hardware, supplies and support of both the print system and the scanning system, but we make scanning free as a benefit to our users and to encourage reduced use of paper when possible.” This system is admirable, as UT prides itself on environmental initiatives and reducing waste, but it isn’t always practical since some professors still require hard-copies.

Advertising senior Nicole Mock shares, “I’ve had professors that would require us to print out worksheets everyday, sometimes up to 6 pages front-and-back. I would sometimes spend up to $5 a week for material for one class.”

The University’s 2017–2018 operating budget states that printing services generated $183,003 in revenue for Information Technology Services. According to Travis Willmann, communications officer of UT Libraries, this is only the revenue provided from UTprint services run by ITS. The print services offered through UT’s libraries, however, run on a separate budget. Because our tuition includes several required fees for library and information technology services, we should be able to receive an allotment of free printing coverage. Indiana University, for example, uses a system that provides students with credits based on how many hours they are enrolled in, covered by fees the students pay in their tuition.

Certain departments at UT already provide their students with discounted or free printing. The Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering provides its students with a $40 print quota per semester at the discounted cost of 6 cents per page from their lab computers. If this is doable, the rest of UT’s students should also be able to receive some form of free printing credits each semester.

As Mock shared, printing at UT can be expensive, especially when the minimum fee required to print can be $5. UT should give all students an equal opportunity to save money when it comes to printing costs.

Shoemaker is a senior government major from Kingwood. Follow her on twitter @siarashoe