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CMU Bookstore’s Inclusive Access program offers students the option to purchase digital texts.

Going digital helps students save

Inclusive Access program is lowering the cost of course materials for many CMU students

Contact: Ari Harris

​Lower prices: a phrase every college student loves to hear.

College costs can be a burden for many students, and textbook purchases are one area where students often try to save money.

In early 2016, the Central Michigan University Bookstore began partnering with publishers and professors to offer lower-priced alternatives to physical textbooks.

Inclusive Access offers students enrolled in certain courses the opportunity to purchase digital textbooks instead of print. The digital materials are stored online in the course's Blackboard page where all other class-related materials are found.

"Student affordability and student success is the whole basis of the program." — Kim Yates, CMU Bookstore textbook manager

Fifty-seven courses currently use Inclusive Access, impacting over 6,500 students.

Spending less on books

"Student affordability and student success are the whole basis of the program," said Kim Yates, textbook manager at the CMU Bookstore.  "Along with the savings to the students, Inclusive Access provides the students day one access to the materials. This leads to greater success in the classroom."

Yates said during the fall 2018 semester, students participating in the program saved approximately $600,000 over the price of physical books.

For example, an astronomy book and homework package purchased digitally cost less than $60, while the print edition of a similar book may be priced upward of $180. "Only two Inclusive Access titles for the fall 2018 semester are over $100," Yates said.

A weight off their shoulders

Inclusive Access materials are available in Blackboard almost instantly after purchase, and students can access them from anywhere. The program also simplifies payments by charging the materials to a student's CMU account prior to the financial aid disbursement.

Students enrolled in a course participating in Inclusive Access receive an email two weeks before class. The preliminary email includes a link to the student's Inclusive Access portal. Participants can see the price of books and how to access course materials. Students have until midnight on Friday of the first week of the semester to opt out of the program, though Yates said most do not, noting the opt-out rate is under three percent.

"The most affordable option is what we're offering. We plan to add more courses to the program as we work with faculty to help them understand how Inclusive Access can benefit them as well," Yates said.

Written by Abby Fischer and Olivia Tubaro, CMU Communications interns

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