Tag Archives: textbooks

TSU selected to national panel to make instructional materials more affordable for students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The American Association of Colleges and Universities has named Tennessee State University to a panel charged with finding alternative ways to make instructional materials more accessible. The goal is to help ease students’ financial burden with the high cost of textbooks.

Dr. Robbie Melton

Reports by The Education Data Initiative show that the average four-year college student paid an estimated $1,226 for textbooks and supplies in academic year 2020-2021. Additionally, the price of textbooks increases by an average of 12 percent with each new edition published, the reports show.

“The rising cost of textbooks is a burden for students. This affects their ability to succeed and even complete their classes,” said Dr. Robbie Melton, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. She cited a 2021 TSU pilot where 28 instructors saved more than $81,000 while using OER versus commercial textbooks.

“Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources in the public domain or released under an intellectual property license that permits the unrestricted use and re-purposing by others,” Melton said. “It includes complete courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

Destiny Pennington

To address the high cost of textbooks, the AAC&U selected TSU and 72 other institutions nationwide to participate in its 2022–23 Institute on Open Educational Resources (OER). This yearlong institute supports educators in launching, expanding, or hastening campus adoption of accessible and affordable instructional materials. 

“This is great news that my school is part of this effort to help ease this extra burden on students,” said Destiny Pennington, a senior mass communications major from Detroit. “As we matriculate through school and book bundling is no longer an option, we must buy books out of our own pockets, and that’s hard. So, I appreciate TSU for trying to do something.”

Aliyah Holmes, vice president of the Student Government Association, also applauds the effort to identify free or less expensive resources to help students.

Aliyah Holmes

“Sometimes students feel the university is not listening to their problems,” said Holmes, a junior political science major from Houston. “Knowing that TSU is listening to the issue of textbooks as being a problem with the high cost, is very amazing and very appreciative.” 

As part of its role, TSU will serve as the lead HBCU in the curation of the HBCU OER Cultural Collection in partnership with MERLOT.org, www.MERLOT.org (higher education teaching and learning materials), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open CourseWare, www.ocw.mit.edu. The effort is supported by a grant from The William and Flora Hewett Foundation: OER Cultural Collection www.HBCULS.ORG.

TSU Goes Digital with Book Bundle Initiative

Effort aims to reduce high cost of traditional textbooks


Incoming freshman students demonstrate book bundle, a digital cost-saving textbook initiative at Tennessee State University, to TBR Chancellor John Morgan during the Board’s recent quarterly meeting at the University. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)
Incoming freshman students demonstrate book bundle, a digital cost-saving textbook initiative at Tennessee State University, to TBR Chancellor John Morgan during the Board’s recent quarterly meeting at the University. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will be on the digital cutting edge this fall semester when it begins offering electronic books as part of a book-bundle initiative aimed at lowering the cost of traditional “paper” books.

The plan will allow freshman and sophomore students to buy “e-books” for general education classes, saving students up to $735 per semester.

According to University officials, a large number of students enrolled in classes do not purchase text books due to lack of funds, delay in receiving funds, or simply hold back on buying them for weeks.

“Many of our students would go weeks before they even purchase a text book, which in turn hurts them in the classroom,” said Dr. Glenda Glover, President of TSU. “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 went on to say that as the leader of the University, it is her responsibility to find cost-cutting measures to save students money.

“TSU is really on the cutting edge with this new program,” added Glover. “Not only will it save money for many of our incoming freshmen and some first-generation students, but it will also help faculty bridge the digital divide and reach our students across digital platforms.”

Under the new program, students will pay a flat fee of $365 per semester that is included in their tuition and fees, and have access to the required digital textbooks for classes taken. The fee includes all textbooks in the general education core for students taking 12-16 semester hours. For students who want print copies of books, they will be available for an additional $15-30 charge.

Lauren Thomas, like many students today, uses her mobile tablet to not only stay connected, but also read everything from the newspapers and magazines to checking her email and scrolling through the Internet. It’s a device that the TSU Mass Communications major can’t live without.

“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,” said the SGA vice president. “I only wish we had this program when I was an underclassman.”

According to Dr. Alisa Mosley, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, the book-bundle program will be implemented in two phases this fall starting with freshmen and sophomores taking general education courses. Phase II will include juniors and seniors and focus on upper division and core courses required for their majors.

“The savings are incredible to our students,” explained Mosley. “The average cost of books alone ranges between $800 to $1,100 per semester. We are meeting the needs of our students and giving them the necessary tools to be successful. Studies have shown that students who have their books are more engaged and more successful when they have access to materials and do far better in their academic career.”

TSU is unique in the fact that the University is offering e-books for all general education classes, and it is the only university offering the book-bundle initiative in the Tennessee Board of Regents higher education system.

“When we started this project, we were told by numerous book publishers that this had never been done before,” added Mosley. “This was a massive undertaking to implement. We specifically decided to go with the digital books not only as an alternative to more costly traditional paper books, but also to meet students in the digital age.”

The program, according to Mosley, is already receiving attention from other institutions.

“Some of our sister institutions are already asking how they can implement the same program,” said Mosley. “We really are on the cutting-edge with this 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.”

Statistics indicate electronic books, or e-books, are gaining popularity among college-aged students and educators, including those at TSU. While e-books currently account for only 6 percent of textbook sales at university bookstores, that number is growing, but primarily in certain disciplines.


Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.