January 10, 2019
Questioner: Julie Ingersoll
Posed to: Shari Shuman, Vice President, Administration & Finance
In Religious Studies we have long worked to keep student book costs low by using books available used on Amazon. This works really well for most of my students (last semester none of my classes was more than $40) but students who rely on Financial Aid can only use their funds at the bookstore. Who’s rule is that? With new interest on the part of administration to cut textbook costs, can we change it?
Response by Vice President Shuman:
Students on financial aid have the opportunity to purchase their books from any source. Unless, they choose to use the bookstore, the student has to upfront the cost and then they receive a refund from their financial aid. However, we have worked an arrangement with the Bookstore to provide a line of credit to the student to purchase their books prior to the first day of class and before financial aid is distributed. There is a complex technical integration between the University and the bookstore, which allows the bookstore to know which students will be receiving financial aid. The bookstore then provides a line of credit to the student until financial aid is paid. Further, the bookstore assumes the risk for any uncollected funds under the program. The technical integration, line of credit or the guarantee for risk of loss is not available from Amazon or other book sellers.
The University and the bookstore have long endeavored to find ways to reduce the cost of course materials and continue to do so. Bookstore personnel routinely meet with faculty to discuss ways to reduce course materials costs and identify multiple text formats to provide the greatest flexibility for all students. They would welcome the opportunity to visit and explore ways to assist.