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4 Key Ways to Increase Affordability for K-12 Families

Posted by Kate Seat on Oct 6, 2015 8:48:24 AM
Topics: K-12, digital content, textbook affordability, custom course materials

When it comes to your institution's mission or core values, does affordability for your families play an important role? Are the cost of textbooks equivalent to the value they're providing? Is your families' perspective the same as yours? 

If affordability is a key factor (as it's becoming for many K-12 schools nationwide), you've got options. In fact, there are four simple ways to drastically impact how much your families spend for course materials that you can put into action today.

4 Key Ways to Increase Affordability for K-12 Families

Implementing or expanding a digital initiative

Adding digital content to your curriculum can benefit your students in many ways. Depending on the platform and format you select, digital content can allow for easy collaboration and note-sharing, simple updates from publishers, better monitoring and assessment by instructors and an enhanced learning experience that more than likely mirrors your students’ device use outside of the classroom.

The variety of reasons contributing to the rise of digital in K-12 schools nationwide also includes the physical impact on students and the cost to their families.

Here’s why these additional factors make such a difference:

The backpack burden

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 14,000 children are treated annually for injuries related to heavy backpacks, and about 5,000 students between the ages of 5-18 actually end up in the ER because of their book bags.

Pediatricians and chiropractors recommend that students carry less than 15% of their body weight, but the combined average weight of textbooks in only a few subjects exceeds this at most grade levels from 1-12.

One alternative proposed to offset this impact is to have two sets of books, one for home and one for school. While this could lighten the load for the student, it may double the amount that families have to invest.

In contrast to the heavy backpack, the average tablet weighs between 1 and 3 pounds. Even when loaded with 3,500 books, the difference is a matter of a fraction (a billionth of a billionth) of a gram more.

Cost of course materials

Digital materials, on average, cost less than their print version counterparts —  up to 80% less! For parents who also have to consider the cost of tuition, saving on course materials can be a big help.

As digital use in K-12 schools becomes more widespread, the amount of content available in a digital format is increasing as well. And with digital initiatives being supported both by private corporations and governmental entities (including the White House), publishers are switching their focus from developing print options to new, more innovative digital solutions.

Joining a student savings program

Do you have a plan in place that allows you to give back to your families? Reallocating funds to provide shipping promotions, textbook scholarships or discounting course materials reinforces that you are committed to the success of your students, and that providing the very best options in course materials at an affordable price is a chief concern and part of your school's mission. 

If an established student savings program isn't currently a possibility, it may be time to explore your options.

Exploring custom course packs

How much of each required book is actually used in your classrooms? If the answer is not much, you're not alone. With traditional textbooks, your instructors are limited to what's in the book — a decision which isn't made to reflect your students' specific needs.

By contrast, because each component is selected individually by the instructor, custom course packs only contain the materials suitable for that class. Not only does this provide a targeted, streamlined resource that can improve students' learning outcomes, but course packs can also be significantly cheaper than traditional textbooks. 

Custom course packs are available in print or digital options and can incorporate OER, lecture notes or other original content.

This is one example of how easy it can be to assemble custom course materials.

Submitting on-time or early adoptions

Timely adoptions are the easiest way to help your families save, hands down! Here's why:

When adoptions are submitted early or on-time, you (or your provider) can anticipate what quantities of which titles to purchase during buyback, in order to ensure that all students have access to the right materials. Purchasing larger quantities means more families will be able to select more affordable used books, or at least have the option to decide for themselves which format they prefer. Another benefit of on-time adoptions is that when families are selling back their books, they may receive more for titles that will be used the following semester than they might get otherwise.

Having ample time between adoption and the beginning of the term also allows us to scour the marketplace in order to source additional inventory as inexpensively as possible and price these books competitively.

However, when adoptions come in after the deadline, there's no way to anticipate how much to purchase at buyback or to source through other means. When the next semester begins, more families could have to pay full price for a new copy or even look for the books they need from a source other than your bookstore. 

What's the secret to successfully using this tactic? Make sure that your faculty or department heads realize the importance of submitting adoptions by the deadline

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About Kate Seat

Kate Seat is a former copywriter at MBS. When away from work, she’s either creating one-of-a-kind art dolls, reading or watching way too much tv with her husband, daughter and an irritable chinchilla named Klaus.

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