Free textbook pilot program starts

First-year students will have their textbook costs covered for eight semesters

Photo courtesy of | The incoming class of 2022 will be able to get its required textbooks for free thanks to a new pilot program.

University students across the country complain about having to purchase textbooks every semester out of pocket, but what if they no longer had to? This is the question posed by a pilot program being introduced to the class of 2022 by the Division of Enrollment Management, the Office of Student Success and Auxiliary Services.

Rather than handing over money at the bookstore register or to services like Chegg, students will be able to pick up all of their required textbooks for no cost at all, as long as they return them by the end of the semester like a rented textbook.

According to Assistant Vice President of Auxiliary Services Dr. Jude Kiah, the university decided to provide all required curricular materials to first-year students for eight semesters — or the full four-year undergraduate term.

“It’s a pilot program, so we’re looking to see how it affects enrollment,” Kiah said. “Do people come as a result, persistence, does it help people succeed in the classroom, especially first year to second year?”

An email announcing the new textbook program was sent to students through Xavier Student weekly on Monday morning.

The email stated, “National statistics show that about one-third of college students nationwide reportedly skip purchasing textbooks altogether because of the cost.”

The program will affect the tuition of neither the current student body nor the incoming class. Instead, incoming students’ scholarship money has been redistributed to cover the costs of the textbooks. Vice President of Enrollment Management Aaron Meis explains that each year, the amount of scholarship money available to students and its allocation are slightly different.

“The university has tried to be more judicious in our awarding of scholarships,” Meis said. “We’ve tried to offer this benefit to the incoming freshmen to offset some of the burden of their costs.”

Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success Kelly Pokrywka said this program isn’t just about recruitment.

“This is about retention of our students based on some really strong empirical evidence that students, because of finances, can’t buy textbooks sometimes,” Pokrywka said. “So we’re really proud of this program.”

Kiah has been working on the development of the textbook pilot program since he came to Xavier three years ago. He has personal experience “working in (the) bookstore world” for 10 years and as a student himself was faced with “not having money for books, and knowing what that meant in my own personal academic career.”

Like other initiatives Xavier University has taken, the textbook pilot program is draws inspiration from other places. The program is based on a model used at a North Carolina college.

Kiah is hopeful that the program will be a success, and he and all others involved will be able to review the data by the end of next semester. Kiah would love to see the program expand to include more of the student body.

“Those students who are most at risk, you’re going to be prepared on day one to get into the classroom,” Kiah said. “We’re going to remove this barrier…I’m so proud that Xavier has done that.”

By: Soondos Mulla-Ossman ~Copy Editor~