Textbook initiatives save YSU students $771,000

bookstoreYoungstown State University students saved more than $750,000 on textbooks last year due to a variety of initiatives at the university.

“Making higher education more affordable is a major emphasis across all of Ohio and especially here at YSU,” said Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Operations. “Textbooks are a major expense, and sometimes a surprise expense for many students, so anything we can do to lessen that burden is important.”

The textbook savings initiatives are among many listed in YSU’s annual Affordability and Efficiency Report filed last week with the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The report, approved by the YSU Board of Trustees, lists examples of affordability and efficiency in various categories, including direct savings, deferred revenue (direct savings to students), and cost avoidance that would otherwise increase expenses. 

Among the actions highlighted in the report are YSU’s collaborative efforts through the Northeast Ohio Regional Compact, a consortium of nine public universities and colleges committed to working together to improve efficiency and effectiveness, strengthen educational offerings, provide collaborative pathways to degrees and support the region’s workforce. 

YSU’s report includes several examples of such collaborations, including a partnership with Kent State University to share various administrative services, i.e. internal audit, database administration and IT security. The report says YSU has also partnered with four other state universities to jointly contract with Ellucian as the single vendor for each partner university’s
enterprise technology platform.

The report also outlines steps YSU has taken to reduce duplication of academic programming, as well as the university’s creation of the new Division of Workforce Education and Innovation and opening of the Excellence Training Center on campus, both of which McNally said are examples of YSU’s efforts to share resources and expand capacity for research and development.

The state also requires universities to include in the report efforts to keep down the costs of textbooks. McNally said various initiatives at YSU saved students an estimated $771,000 last year. 

The biggest part of that savings comes via First Day Ready, a partnership with the Barnes & Noble YSU Bookstore that provides electronic materials to students at reduced costs. McNally said lower prices are possible because YSU has essentially guaranteed the bookstore that a certain number of books will be purchased and provided directly to students via a First Day Ready fee for the course. The program, which has grown from one pilot course to 90 courses in five years, saved students an estimated $655,623 in textbook costs last year alone, the report shows.

In addition, YSU estimates students saved $102,529 last year through the university’s textbook rental program.
In the report, YSU also suggests that, given the state’s emphasis on student affordability, Ohio should consider a state funding model that rewards universities such as YSU that maintain lower net tuition levels. The change, the report says, would encourage institutions to keep net tuition low and as affordable as possible. The report also noted that YSU’s net tuition price is nearly 30 percent below the state average.