September 25, 2008

Net-Print Costs Cover More Than Just Paper, Includes Maintenance

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Last year, Cornell printed 10 million pages of paper. Many students — fed up with the amount of money they pay to print their papers and articles at Cornell’s libraries — wonder where that money goes.
One of the main arguments in favor of charging students for printing is that it encourages students to print less and waste less paper. Rick Cochran, program analyst specialist for CIT Systems and Operations, said at that Princeton University, where students are not charged to print, students print four to five times more than those at Cornell.
Most students understand why they are charged to print, but many complain about the way the price is set.
Jake Friedman ’11, a former employee of Olin Library, says he sees the need to charge people for printing, but thinks that there should be a difference in price between single-side and double sided printing.
“Not only should it cost less for the library to supply less paper, but it also gives people a greater incentive to think about the environment,” Friedman said.
According to the University, however, the cost of paper for a sheet is very low and therefore double-sided printing does not save C.U. much money.
“Paper costs $3.50 per ream, 500 sheets in a ream, seven-tenths of a cent per sheet of paper,” Cochran said. “By printing on both sides, we save .35 of a cent per page … There isn’t any business case for charging less.”
Although there is no monetary incentive for students to print on both sides of a page, Cochran still feels that students should print in this environmentally responsible way.
“Incentives for using duplex printing are that it’s green and that students have less paper to carry around,” Cochran said. “Those are the incentives people should be paying attention to. There is not a strong reason for financial incentive.”
If each piece of paper is not too expensive, why are students charged so much to print? Among the long list of costs, Cochran attributed the purchasing and maintaining of servers, the electricity necessary and CIT salaries as principal reasons.
Cochran explained that the University is not allowed to either lose or make money.
“Revenue that comes in from Net-Print has to be equal to the expenses,” Cochran said. “Net-Print’s official accounting designation is that it’s a designated service that only can use revenue to provide a service.”
CIT only sets the prices for printers in computer labs on campus — not individual departments. As of July 1, the Net-Print project takes 21 percent of the price for each printed page from all of the different departments on campus that use Net-Print.
“At the moment, we return 79 percent to the department that owns the printers and keep 21 percent to cover our costs,” Cochran said. “Departments get to choose what they are going to charge for printing.”
While the majority of printers charge nine cents for a standard black and white print-out, the price ranges: it costs 10 cents in McGraw Hall, nine cents in Olin Library, eight cents in Johnson School, seven cents in Goldwin Smith Hall, six cents in Ives and three cents in Hollister, according to the CIT website.
Even with these significant price fluctuations, many students remain unaware of these differences, printing out of convenience instead.
“I print at Mann Library because that’s where I usually study,” Katelyn Hall ‘09 said.