With textbook prices constantly on the rise, some students struggle to buy books each semester. To lower costs, the UM system created a textbook program that has saved students $2.4 million in the last year.
The UMKC Auto Access Program (AAP) is run through the UMKC Bookstore, faculty, 13 major publishing companies and campus IT staff, lowering costs of materials by providing digital access to students.
AAP courses provide textbook access on Blackboard starting on the first day of class.
According to UMKC Bookstore Assistant Director Pete Eisentrager, the high cost of textbooks prompted the bookstore to create the program.
“The UM Campus Stores noticed the issue with textbook affordability. It’s because of standardizations, varying definitions, and market confusion, that digital content in the classroom has been slow to gain momentum,” said Eisentrager. “So we created the Auto Access Program to significantly reduce the cost of course materials for our students across all four UM System campuses.”
Eisentrager says the program’s advantages are multifaceted. The material offered through AAP is the lowest priced in the marketplace and the content is available on the first day of classes. Additionally, AAP offers direct communication with students and allows them to opt-out of the program. Students are billed automatically so they don’t have to come in store to pay their bill.
“It’s proven to be a very convenient option that ensures every student has access to required materials, on the first day of class, at the lowest price available,” said Eisentrager.
Since the start of the program, the bookstore has noticed a significant financial difference with students purchasing books through AAP.
Eisentrager cited the price of the $318 textbook for Accounting 350 drops down to $72.99 in the AAP program – a $245 difference.
He was also proud to bring recognition to the first professor at UMKC to adopt the AAP.
Bloch School professor, Steve Mitchell, was the first UMKC faculty member to adopt the program in the spring 2016 semester.
According to Eisentrager, the program now encompass 86 courses, serving 4,899 UMKC students to date, saving $351,352. Across the entire UM System, over 100,000 students have been impacted, saving $7 million.
Although the numbers have grown considerably, the UMKC Bookstore still has goals for the program. Next spring, the bookstore hopes to see at least 72 courses enrolled in the program.
“Reaching that goal will mean that approximately 5,000 students will be enrolled in an AutoAccess course,” said Eisentrager. “The potential students’ savings for that one semester would be approaching $335,000.”
When asked if there are any other technologies the bookstore is in the process of creating to help save students money, Eisentrager said UM Campus Stores are working for more affordable Open Educational Resources, along with AAP.
“The UM Campus Stores have always been leading advocates for reducing the cost of course materials for students. We’re continually researching new and improved ways to save students money on their course materials,” said Eisentrager.
“Our UM Campus Stores have continually been national leaders when it comes to creating and adopting new strategies and technologies to purchase and distribute course materials as cheaply as possible. It’s been a foundation of our mission and always will be.”