by Olivia Kelley
Four years after it was initially approved, a plan to include textbooks in the cost of tuition will go into affect in the fall.
Trevecca will increase costs by 3.6 percent, or $1,167, to make the 2016-2017 cost of attendance $33,215. Included in that increase will be textbooks every student needs for every class they are enrolled in.
The program, originally known as “Books Fly Free,” was proposed by Tree of Life’s chief executive officer, Darren Campbell, in February of 2012. The idea was to charge a book fee based at $20 per credit hour that would cover the cost of books for each semester. The program has since evolved into “Textbook Butler.” Instead of a book fee, the cost will be included in students tuition and is based on a flat rate rather than number of credit hours.
Tree of Life is the company contracted by the university to manage the on-campus bookstore.
David Caldwell, executive vice president for finance and administration, said university officials didn’t originally implement “Books Fly Free” because of concerns regarding the cost per credit hour.
“There were still some questions about implementing it and there was enough gray in the execution that we weren’t sure if we were ready for it. If it didn’t execute well, we thought there was a big chance for having a lot of egg on our faces,” said Caldwell.
This year, after working out some kinks, the president’s cabinet decided it was time to move forward with it.
“We aren’t adding a lot of other expenses and because we have more students attending we are able to take that income amount basically and allocate it towards the books. We are also able to negotiate a better rate through Tree of Life. We negotiated in bulk, basically,” said Caldwell.
Caldwell said he is unable to say how much of the tuition increase is because of textbooks.
“We’ve agreed on one price but then there are many variables related to our agreement that would directly impact the price but aren’t easily identified,” he wrote in an email.
While the books will be based on a flat rate and not on number of credit hours, Caldwell did say the charge could be roughly $10 per credit hour.
“Is it in there? Yes it is. There’s definitely an expense for the included books in the tuition cost. We invested in that thinking it was a meaningful investment for the average student,” he said.
Caldwell attended an SGA meeting on March 14 to explain the changes and give students a chance to ask questions.
“As a group, I think people were mostly positive,” said Sarah Hogan, ASB president. “It was really helpful to have him there to explain it to us and we saw that it could potentially save a lot of students money.”
Whether the program actually saves students money depends on how much students are already spending on textbooks, according to a chart Caldwell presented to SGA.
For instance, if a student spent $200 this year on textbooks, they would experience a $967 increase in tuition. But, for a student who spent $1,000 on textbooks, their tuition will increase by $167.
Caldwell estimated that students spent an average of $600 a year on textbooks during the 2015-2016 school year.
“I believe if there’s a $300 a semester cost creating a 1.7 % increase, that’s probably the lowest annual increase for a returning student in 20 years or more,” he said.
According to an annual survey conducted by College Board, students at 4-year private universities spend around $1,200 a year on textbooks.
Some students said the new plan takes away their options to buy books at lower cost from other sources.
Alaina Edens, a junior worship arts major, posted on Facebook and urged students to fight against the new policy.
“I get that tuition goes up regardless, but if it can be reduced in every way possible then why would we not fight for that?” she said.
Edens said she has spent on average $120 a semester for books by purchasing from online resources such as amazon or chegg.
“The power to choose where I purchase my books is gone,” she said.
Hannah Duke, a junior nursing major, said she thinks the program could save some people money, but it will be different depending on how much students normally spend.
“I think it could save me money if it’s actually going to work the way they say it will,” she said
Duke said she spent about $800 on her books this year, even though she purchased them from outside sources.
“In general I’m not a huge fan of books being included in tuition,” she said. “I just like to have options I guess. I don’t want anyone telling me I have to get my books from here.”