Student reading an electronic book.

Creating a More Cost Effective Approach for Students


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As a nonprofit university consisting of a nontraditional study body, Hodges University strives to ensure its students receive not only a valuable education, but also, the highest level of professional and personalized service. Understanding the financial commitments students must adhere to when choosing to pursue a degree, the university continually works to find ways to make receiving an education more cost effective for students.

In an interview, Noah Lamb, director of student accounts and auxiliary services at Hodges, answered questions about the strategic implementation process for lowering the cost of course materials. Implemented in winter 2017, the university switched from the previous book voucher program to the new “All-In Model” and digital migration process offered through Ed Map, Inc, a company dedicated to simplifying “the discovery, adoption, management and delivery of quality educational content to help institutions lower the cost of education and improve outcomes.”

Explain the previous book voucher program.
Prior to our relationship with EdMap, Hodges participated in a book voucher program. Through the old process, we were unable to provide discounts on course materials. On average, part-time students received a $600 voucher while full-time students received an $800 voucher. Oftentimes, this would not cover the cost of all course materials, which meant students were paying out of pocket.

In addition, once a student enrolled in courses, it would take 24 to 48 hours for the student to receive an email stating their funds were available. Once the student compared a variety of sites to determine which provided a cheaper price and faster shipping, they ordered their books; however, in most cases, books could take five to seven days to ship. This presented issues when students did not have books the first week of class.

Why Change to EdMap?
Student in the Terry P. McMahan Library on Hodges' Fort Myers campus.
After receiving information from five separate vendors, we discovered EdMap provided exactly what we wanted in terms of providing our students with a convenient and more cost effective way to purchase course materials. We discussed their “All-In Model,” which ensures students receive their course materials by the start of class. To bring down the cost of books and other course materials, Hodges introduced a student resource fee and decided to incorporate a digital migration, which provides students with electronic books and the option to request a printed version, also known as Print-on-Demand (POD).

What is the Resource Fee and what does it cover?
Each course requiring textbooks or additional course materials has a resource fee. The fees range from $0-$370 per course but are dependent upon the number of course materials required, which can include books, access codes, simulations and more. An estimated 85 percent of all resource fees are below $100 for each course.

What does it mean to Opt-In and Opt-Out?
Students who opt-out will not be charged resource fees; however, they will be unable to use financial aid to purchase course materials. Students are responsible for paying for course materials on their own but can purchase, with a credit card, the required materials through Hodges’ Virtual Store.

Students who remain opted in will be charged resource fees, but the stress of comparing multiple sites to find the cheapest materials no longer exists because of the new format. Also, students may use financial aid, if applicable, to cover the cost of the resource fees, as well as set up a payment plan if financial aid does not cover the full cost. Lastly, students will receive their materials by the first day of class.

What is Print-on-Demand (POD)?
As part of the digital migration, students are using electronic books (e-books) instead of physical textbooks. However, when validating course materials, students may select the option to have a printed version of the e-book sent to them. While an estimated 65 percent of e-books provide a POD option, it is not available for all books at this time, but we are hoping to offer more in the future. Students who opt for the printed version will still have access to the electronic book, and the cost is covered via the resource fees.

Explain the decision to move toward digital migration.
The digital migration offers a more cost effective way for students to receive their course materials. Electronic books are much cheaper than hardback textbooks, and as an institution, we want to ensure our students receive their course materials in an effective and efficient manner. Technology is all around us, and we want our student population to be open-minded to the opportunities this new program presents.

Previously, a student with financial aid spent, on average, $600-900 on course materials. Now, through Ed Map, the average a student will spend on course materials is $200-$500.

How does the new process work?
Hodges University Student on the Naples campus.
Once a student registers for their courses, he/she will receive a validation email, which is sent to the student’s Hodges email account, within two to three hours after registering. Within the email is a link to view the required course materials. Once a student clicks the link, he/she will be directed to the Hodges Virtual Bookstore where the student can review registered courses as well as the required course materials. At this time, the student can choose the POD option, if available. If the student does not select the POD option when validating, he/she cannot request a POD later.

Once the student validates the courses and materials, the information is submitted and the student will receive a confirmation email, to his/her Hodges email account. The link within the confirmation email will send the student to VitalSource, and once the student logs in with his/her Hodges email and password, “My Bookshelf” will be available for the student to view the course materials.

What happens if students receive the wrong materials?
If a student receives the wrong course materials, he/she may call the University Store at (239) 938-7770 or email universitystore@hodges.edu. In order for the University Store to retrieve the corrected materials, the student will need to contact staff immediately.

What will Hodges continue to do to provide a cost effective approach for students earning a degree?
Hodges University is dedicated to making education as cost effective as possible. One way to decrease cost is by increasing our digital availability for all course materials and finding innovative options to providing course materials within the classroom.  This is a new step for Hodges University, and it will take some time for the digital migration to be complete. However, the migration will be beneficial concerning expenses for students and the advanced ways a student can learn within their classes using digital content.

Victor Castro, a business administration student pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Hodges, shares how the more cost effective approach to the new system led him to come back to Hodges. “When I first enrolled into Hodges University, I had sticker shock at the cost of the books, and because of that, I decided to unenrolled and attend an online university,” he said. “After finishing a semester online, I wanted to try and give Hodges another chance, in the hopes of a possible change. I was thankful I had! My enrollment counselor told me Hodges had, in fact, changed the textbook policy and was moving to a different provider and process.”

Christina Guertin, who earned a bachelor’s in criminal justice and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in legal studies, as well as a master’s in management at Hodges, is a work-study in the Fort Myers Veterans Services Center. Since moving to the new system, she appreciates the cost savings, as well as the ability to access both the electronic and printed versions of her books. “Not only has this eliminated the headache of finding my books for the cheapest price possible, but it is also the cheapest option for me. I saved over $100 in the mini A semester alone,” she said.  “I also really like the ease of access with the e-books being right on the blackboard…One last positive statement I have is the benefit of having a print-on-demand option. I am a non-traditional student who does prefer a physical book I can highlight and annotate, and this option works great for me.”

For additional information on resource fees or the new digital migration, visit the Student Account Services page on the Hodges website at http://www.hodges.edu/studentaccountservices/resourcefees/. For any additional questions or concerns, there are three ways to contact a Student Account Services representative:

  1. Email universitystore@hodges.edu or sas@hodges.edu
  2. Call (239) 938-7770 or (239) 938-7760
  3. Visit the University Store or Student Account Services located on the Fort Myers campus in H Building