Should Colleges Charge Students and Staff for Printing?

Posted by Ken Godzik - June 12, 2017 - Education

Students reading a piece of paper in a corridor.jpegIf you find reams of paper and boxes of toner disappearing at an alarming rate at your college or university, you’re not alone. It’s a challenge every budget-conscious school faces—how to provide printing access for legitimate academic needs while weeding out wasteful, costly printing abuse.

The benefits and drawbacks of charging for printing

Most colleges and universities have tried different solutions to stem the tide of “problem printers.” From the honor system to computer lab supervision, the attempts at controlling students’ printer use often prove unsuccessful. 

For many institutions, the answer has seemed obvious—charge students and departments for printing privileges. But the subject of pay-for-print can cause controversy on campus, with students voicing strong opinions on the matter, raising the question: is printing on a college campus a right, or a privilege?

The true cost of printing at higher education facilities

Administrators may be aware of the general problem of printing on campus, but few realize the real extent of the budget strain out-of-control printing is causing. Often, administrators don’t know exactly how the school’s printers are really being used.

But amid mounting costs of paper, ink, toner and maintenance, decision-makers are starting to ask themselves how they can better manage printing costs and get their budget back under control. At Yale University, for example, an initiative to reduce paper consumption led the school to roll out Papercut, a print management tool that gathers data about print volume and settings so that administrators can make better decisions about print polices and sustainable practices.    

Printing for academic purposes is certainly necessary. The problems start when users create wasteful or non-academic print jobs, which cause costs to grow exponentially.

Which Pay-for-Print strategy is right for you?

Thinking about charging for prints? What works for one school may not always work for yours; it all depends on your size, your print environment and, more importantly, your goals.

How do you know what will work for your school? Start by tracking costs by user, department, or shared accounts. Use print management software to gain a complete understanding of printing behavior at your school. Then, use the data to implement policies that will have the biggest impact.

One strategy that many institutions have found successful is Pay-Per-Use. Pass the costs to the highest users by requiring individual user payments that integrate with popular payment gateways such as PayPal.  

Controlling costs for free printing  

If you choose not to have students and staff pay for printing, there are still strategies you can use to reduce the printer abuse. Print management software can track your institution’s printing patterns and even help modify users’ behavior to be more responsible.

Print Quotas (Unpaid): Allocate print quotas to users or departments. Users can track print balances, and once the quota is gone, it’s gone!

Filters: Set up filters to fix simple problems like removing jobs or encouraging double-sided printing.

Environmental Impact: Encourage users to print responsibly by sharing the environmental impact they’re having with every page.

Charging for printing on campus can be a hot-button issue, but the results speak for themselves.  Cost savings, reduced environmental impact, and more responsible printing practices are all important outcomes that can’t be ignored.

Want to learn more about optimizing your school’s print environment? Start with a Print Assessment. SymQuest can provide a clear picture of your printer network and recommend cost-saving solutions that have measurable impact on your bottom line. Request a Print Assessment today!    

how to build an optimized and secure university print environment

  how to build an optimized and secure university print environment

about the author

Ken Godzik

Ken Godzik is currently the Area Vice President of Document Solutions at SymQuest, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A., Inc. Godzik is responsible for driving equipment and solution sales through his team of twenty-three sales professionals from Bangor, Maine to Watertown, NY. Godzik is well versed and passionate in coaching, developing and building teams that are focused on improving quality, gaining efficiency, and reducing costs for SymQuest’s clients.

Ken Godzik
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