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VOL. 7 | NO. 35 | Saturday, August 23, 2014

E-Books Cut Costs for Tennessee State Students

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Tennessee State University students face higher costs, tacked on by state government, but that downer could be offset by “e-books” that can save students $735 each semester.

Incoming freshman students demonstrate book bundle, a digital cost-saving textbook initiative at Tennessee State University, to Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan during the board’s recent quarterly meeting at the university.

(Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

TSU is set to offer the electronic books to freshmen and sophomores for general education courses in an effort to lower the cost of traditional books, according to the university.

Student Government Association President Lauren Thomas, a mass communications major, reads everything from newspapers and magazines to email on her mobile tablet, and this is the next logical step for her.

“These mobile devices are always with us, so the idea of being able to read your class assignments directly from your tablet is a great idea,” she says. “I only wish we had this program when I was an underclassman.”

Students will pay a $365 fee each semester as part of their tuition and fees to have access to digital textbooks, which are available in the general education core for students who take 12 to 16 hours per semester. Students can buy print copies for an extra $15 to $30.

TSU President Glenda Glover says many student go weeks without buying textbooks because they can’t afford them, which hurts their classroom performance.

“This new program allows students to have books the first day of class and gives them the ability to be successful since they will have the required materials,” she says.

E-books are not only designed to save money for freshmen and first-generation students but also to “help faculty bridge the digital divide” and communicate with students digitally, according to Glover.

Money issues
Tennessee State University maintenance/tuition and fees are increasing 6.6 percent, adding $450 to student costs for a total of $3,612 per semester for 15 hours of course work.

Student fees are jumping from $465 to $513 as maintenance/tuition rises $354, according to the Tennessee Board of Regents. It was warranted by requirements of the Complete College Act of Tennessee and other initiatives by the Tennessee Board of Regents and governor, according to a university spokesman.

Out-of-state, undergraduate students taking 15 hours will pay a total of $10,290 per semester for maintenance, tuition and fees. In-state, graduate students enrolled in 15 hours will pay a total of $4,878, and out-of-state, graduate students will pay $11,278 for 15 hours in the coming fall and spring semesters.

In the second phase of the book-bundle program, juniors and seniors will be able to tap into e-books for upper division and core courses they need for their majors.

“The average cost of books alone ranges between $800 to $1,100 per semester,” says Alisa Mosley, associate vice president of Academic Affairs. “We are meeting the needs of our students and giving them the necessary tools to be successful.”

TSU is the only university in the Board of Regents system offering the e-books, according to university officials, and other institutions are contacting it to find out how they can start the same program.

“We want to remove any barriers that would impede students from being successful, and this is just another way TSU is on the forefront of higher education,” Mosley says.

The Tennessee Board of Regents voted this year to increase tuition and fees at institutions across the state, ranging from 0 to 6.9 percent at its six universities.

The state’s funding formula wasn’t fully funded because of an unexpected decrease in state revenue, forcing the board to raise costs twice as much as expected, according to TBR Chancellor John Morgan.

The state needs to set a strategy for funding higher education, he said, pointing out it has four methods in place: tuition that students pay, state appropriations, private fundraising and increased efficiency.

“What the right mix of those resources are needs to be carefully considered. What is realistic in terms of looking forward to a tuition policy not just on an ad hoc basis, but looking toward the future horizon several years out when in terms of financial planning for doing what the state needs us to deliver?” Morgan says.

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