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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

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The University Star


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Texas State helps students with textbook costs


Texas State health sciences sophomore Kassandra Villarreal checks the price of a textbook in The Bobcat Store located on the 2nd floor of LBJ Student Center, Friday, March 31, 2023.

Beginning in fall 2023, Texas State will partner with BookSmart in an effort to alleviate financial stress on students with regard to paying for required textbooks.
Currently, students spend an estimated $790 on books and supplies in a nine-month period for all their classes. Many students end up buying books through other, more expensive platforms once the semesters start and the bookstore runs out.
Madison Garza, a nursing junior, said she spent $450 this semester on books from Amazon and from previous students who had taken the same classes.
“If I can rent a book, I’ll rent a book, but most of the time we have to write in our books so I can’t really do that,” Garza said. “Buying books on Amazon is also always more expensive than renting so I always try to get them from seniors.”
Vice President of Finance and Support Eric Algoe said the biggest issue with textbooks is providing the best materials for a reasonable price.
“We want to balance that ability for faculty to select the best materials that are going to help our students the most with the fact that some of these materials can be very expensive,” Algoe said.
As a nursing student, Garza said she is required to have eight textbooks that run at high prices. She said cost is one of the biggest problems she runs into when finding her books.
“I think to help students there should be textbook scholarships and stuff like that because if you’re adding it up, that is nearly $1,000 per year for books, which is very expensive considering we are also balancing tuition,” Garza said.
BookSmart is a digital textbook program that claims to provide undergraduates with more cost-efficient and quicker access to all materials required by their courses. Students would pay $249 per semester and have all their materials accessible to them digitally through Canvas. The program is estimated to save students approximately $12 million in its first year compared to purchasing a newly printed book.
Vice President of Student Success Cynthia Hernandez said it is important for students to not only have books accessible to them but also be able to get them before their classes begin so they don’t fall behind.
Hernandez spoke to a group of student leaders who said there is a struggle to find course materials for reasonable prices so they resort to using untrustworthy sites that can provide free PDF versions of texts, but often end up spreading viruses to students’ devices.
“We really want to take one less thing off their plate of having to figure out where they can get the most inexpensive materials,” Hernandez said. “BookSmart really simplifies this process and mitigates these barriers for students.”
This is a “voice in a choice” program, which means students would also be able to opt out of BookSmart if they feel they would save more money and access books easier without it.
Assistant Vice President for Financial Aid and Scholarships Christopher Murr said the cost of attendance for students is based on the published cost of tuition and fees as well as periodic student surveys regarding the expenses of their housing, food and other components.
“A student’s financial aid is first applied to their registration bill with the university. Any financial aid and scholarship funds in excess of that bill can be used to help cover their other education-related expenses,” Murr told the Star in a written interview. 
Tru Brown, a criminal justice freshman, said she has high expectations for BookSmart and hopes this platform will ease some financial stress in her life and help her have a more smooth-sailing experience buying textbooks.
“I’m expecting more accessible prices and to get the correct textbooks for the correct classes at a reasonable time,” Brown said. “If my professor posts the syllabus with the required textbook, I expect to see that reflected in my Canvas through BookSmart within the next few days.”
Algoe said BookSmart would hopefully be a long-term solution to the problem of overpriced textbooks by continuing to assess the costs of these materials every year and changing them accordingly.
“When we think long-term, faculty adoption of quality teaching materials is still the solution here,” Algoe said. “Our library and many of our academic affairs leaders are working with faculty every day to assist them in the whole process of allocating good and affordable teaching materials.”
Hernandez said she believes the platform will provide students with the best deals for books without having them look for deals on their own and end up buying the wrong version or getting scammed.
“Saving that time, energy, stress and also demystifying a ‘hidden curriculum’ for first-year students, those things that you don’t know how to navigate because you didn’t have to worry about navigating them before now, is our one true goal with all of this,” Hernandez said.

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