Printing Quotas

We all know that preparing terms papers, reading documents, and scribbling notes are part of the college experience, but with the proliferation of computers, printers and easy access to online documents, we may be using more paper than we really need. In an effort to raise awareness about paper consumption, the college is working toward implementing a paper quota system in the Fall of ’09.

The goal is to continue to provide students with the resources they need for classes, but also to add a mechanism that motivates students to cut down on the waste that sometimes happens as a result of unlimited access to printing. Currently students are not charged for paper or printing at any of the campus printers, so there is little motivation to find ways to use less. There are many ways that paper consumption could be reduced: selecting duplex printing, printing only those documents that will be used, reducing the number of flyers printed and finding other ways to advertise events, and editing and reading documents online when possible.

“We want to put an incentive system in place. We don’t want to tell you the best way to cut down on printing because we don’t have the perfect solution. We want people to figure out the solutions that suit them best.”

– Amy Johns, Zilkha Center

OIT has been tracking print jobs through PaperCut since the start of the Fall ’08 term, to evaluate student printing habits. The exact quota has not yet been determined, but is intended to be sufficient to support academic needs in most cases. Students will only be charged for additional paper if they exceed their quota.


Many details are still under discussion, but here are a few that are unlikely to change:

  • Color printouts will cost more than black & white ones.
  • Students will be warned well in advance if their quota is low, and given ample opportunity to purchase more printing credits.
  • Credits will be purchased by students directly, rather than showing up on their term bill.
Quick Facts: in the Fall of ’08…
  • Students printed over 880000 impressions on over 500000 sheets of paper.
  • The 100 most prolific printers (~5% of the student body) did almost a quarter of all the printing.
  • The average student produced 475 impressions on 275 sheets of paper.
  • Seniors printed almost three times as much as first-years.

For more information about the quota, contact Stephanie Boyd, Director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.

18% of the print jobs at Sawyer are abandoned at public printers. Nick Baker, librarian, shown with the orphans of Fall ’07.

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