Every semester, college students face the same horror: textbook shopping. Some students spend hundreds of dollars on books alone. Concordia College is taking steps to combat that.
Next fall, Concordia is launching the Achieve Program. This program allows Concordia students to get all of their course materials for a flat fee of $350 added onto their tuition. The fee is the same for all students regardless of credits being taken, area of study, or any potential schedule changes.
“The college has been working to provide more affordability for course material for students,” said PJ Hines.
Hines is the director of bookstore operations and has been overseeing the Achieve Program. Hines said that they knew there was a change that needed to happen in regards to the affordability of books for students, but weren’t quite sure how to implement it.
The best way they found to accomplish this goal was to partner with a vendor, eCampus, to help cut the costs students pay for books each year.
eCampus is an online retailer that sells and rents textbooks and study materials. They also offer a book buy-back program. Additionally, they partner with various K-12 schools and universities as their official bookstore, with Concordia now among them.
Hines said that they wanted to provide a program where students and families would know the dollar amount for books each semester so they could plan and budget. The goal of this program is to curve the invariability of book prices for students and families per semester.
There are equitable access programs out there, and eCampus even has some existing ones, but the new Acheive Program has parameters designed specifically for Concordia, said Hines.
Students are automatically opted into this program. All students who chose to remain in the program will receive automated updates and reminders on the status of their books to their Concordia email accounts.
Books can be picked up at the Cobber Bookstore when they are ready. All you need to pick up your books is your Student ID, just like how book pick-up has worked in the past.
Students may choose to opt out of the Acheive Program during the allotted opt-out period. This is slated to be the last two weeks in July, said Hines. If a student does this, they are on their own for gathering their course materials, and they can purchase them directly from eCampus’s website or other sources like Amazon or Chegg. The Cobber Bookstore will not have course materials for sale next fall.
“Our suggestion is that when students receive that email [to opt-out] students review their course material,” said Hines.
If it makes better financial sense for students to get their books by other means, that is okay. The program is designed to help students get their books in a more affordable way, not to increase their cost.
The new program caused a subtle change for faculty; they had to submit their book orders on time or otherwise their departments faced a fee. Once the book orders are placed, they are not able to change which books they will be teaching. This gives eCampus time to gather all the materials.
Some faculty felt a bit of a time crunch to get their book choices in with the new firm deadline, but “If the idea is to benefit students, faculty are certainly on board with that,” said Kristi Loberg, the director of the social work program here at Concordia.
Loberg mentioned that when choosing books in the past she has tried to remain mindful of the cost for students. In some cases even putting copies on reserve at the library.
Her hope is that the new Achieve Program will “lead to better equity for students,” and that locating textbooks will become less of a hardship.