In an effort to reduce student textbook costs and keep students on track to complete their classes, Middle Tennessee State University is piloting a program that offers digital textbooks as a part of tuition or fees.
Starting in the fall, select classes will offer the includED® program, a partnership between MTSU and bookstore firm Follett Higher Education Group that provides all required course material to students as a part of tuition or fees rather than students buying those materials separately.
The new program will be tested with certain freshman and sophomore courses in astronomy, physical science and university seminar. The digital textbooks will be purchased through Follett, which operates Phillips Bookstore on the first floor of the MTSU Student Union Building.
Students enrolled thus far in the pilot courses will see almost $70,000 in total savings, according to Phillips Bookstore, and that number will increase as more students enroll. The includED program allows financial aid to be applied to course materials and also allows the university to negotiate a lower price, with savings passed along to students.
“This lets students know the full cost of a class upfront, with no surprises about additional out of pocket costs for required course materials,” said Dr. Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost for admissions and enrollment services at MTSU. “Students will have the course materials they need from day one.”
A full-time student (enrolled 14 hours) can spend up to $750 per semester on books, according to the MTSU Office of Financial Aid. Through the includED program, MTSU students could potentially save up to 50 percent on average for textbooks, depending on the type of content a professor chooses.
Students can access the textbooks online through their secure university accounts using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. University officials say that if the pilot goes well, they anticipate other faculty will choose to participate and expand the program across the campus.
The includED program is part of MTSU’s Quest for Student Success initiative, a series of reforms launched last year to increase retention and graduation through changes such as academic course redesigns, enhanced advising, and new student data-tracking software.
Students who enroll in a designated includED course section will eliminate the time spent searching for deals on books and no longer having to worry about getting the wrong book or edition, Witherow added.
Student surveys have shown that as many as one in five college students have deferred or skipped taking a class because of the cost of course materials.
Phillips Bookstore will have a limited amount of low cost print books for the pilot courses available for an additional charge of $25 to $44 for students who want an alternative to a digital book.
For more information about the includED program, call Phillips Bookstore manager Jeff Whitwell at 615-898-2701 or email Jeff.Whitwell@mtsu.edu.
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)