We go through paper

Spring quarter is done, and grades are turned in. Time to take a look at student printing counts.

Things are changing! Printing costs do keep rising, and for a good discussion of realities check this article from ATUS News. The numbers in there are from Fall quarter. Now I'll give some Spring quarter numbers (departmental break down is different than the article, since I'm personally not sure which labs belong to which department):

Numbers are from 3/29/09-6/17/09 (8:17am)
Total Pages Printed: 1,840,186
ATUS Labs: 51.5%
Library Printers: 22.9%
Housing Labs: 14%
Comms Bldg: 6.8%
Average pages printed per user: 152
Median pages printed per user: 112
Number of users who printed anything: 12,119
Number of users over 500 pages: 292
Number of users over 1000 pages: 7
"Over quota" pages printed: 181,756

Students get a free quota of 500 pages each quarter. Getting more when you run out is as simple as contacting a helpdesk and getting your quota upped. As you can see, 2.4% of users managed to account for 9.9% of all pages printed.

It is a common misconception that the Student Tech Fee pays for the 500 pages each student gets. In actuality, that cost is eaten by each of the departments running a student printer, which means that printing has historically been a gratis benefit. There is a proposal going forward that would change things so you'd have to pay $.05/page for upping your quota. The top print-user of this quarter would have had to have paid a bit over $69 in additional quota if we were using the pay system. If ALL of the users who went over 500 pages had to pay for their additional quota, that would have generated a bit under $9088 in recovered printing costs.

Of course, if added print quota were a cost-item it will depress that overage activity. Another curve-ball is the desire of certain departments to offer color printing, but they really want to recapture their printing costs for those printers. So far we haven't done a good job of that, but we are in the process of revising the printing system to better handle it. It'll require some identity-management code changes to handle the quota management process differently, but it is at least doable.

Once you start involving actual money in this transaction, it opens up a whole 'nother can o worms. First off, cash-handling. Our help-desks do not want to be in the business of dealing with cash, so we'll need some kind of swipe-kiosh to handle that. Also, after-hours quota-bumps will need to be handled since our helpdesks are not 24/7 and sometimes students run out of quota at 6am during finals week and have an 8am class.

Second, accounting. Not all labs are run by ATUS. Some labs are run by departments that charge lab-fees that ostensibly also support lab printing. Some way to apportion recovered printing costs to departments will have to be created. Those departments that charge lab-fees may find it convenient to apply a portion of those fees to their student's page-quota.

Third, extra-cost printing like color. PCounter allows printers to be configured to not allow the use of 'free quota' for printing. So in theory, things like color or large-format-printers could be configured to only accept paid-for quota. These devices will have a cost higher than $.05/page, perhaps even $.25/page for color, or much higher for the LFP's. It could also mean some departmental lab-managers may decide to stop accepting free-quota in their labs and go charge-only.

Fourth, carry-over of paid quota. If a student forks over $20 for added quota, that should carry over until it is used. Also, it is very likely that they'll demand a refund of any unspent print-quota on graduation. Some refund mechanism will also need to be created.

I don't know at what step the proposal is, all I know is that it hasn't been approved yet. But it is very likely to be approved for fall.