The Direct Network

Is Your School Ready for a Course Material Fee Program?

Posted by Dean Asher on May 11, 2016 4:30:00 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, K-12, course fee model, Direct Success

If you want students to succeed, a good place to start is to make sure they have their course materials. In fact, according to the Book Industry Study Group's Spring 2015 Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education study, more than 50% of all students believe learning materials help them improve grades in their courses, prepare for their future careers, complete assignments and prepare for quizzes and exams. That's why schools, stores, publishers and just about everyone else involved in the course material business have been looking for ways to increase acquisition of their required titles before the start of class.

It's also why so many of them have turned to one particular model in the past few years. You may have heard it referred to by many names, but one we prefer is the "course material fee model." Effectively, your students' materials are automatically delivered to them, and they are billed along with tuition and other fees.

Is sell-through less than desired in your Online Bookstore, even though your prices are competitive? Are you under pressure from administration to increase the rate of course material acquisition and/or lower prices while doing so? Are your students asking about alternatives to your store? If so, a course material fee model may be right for you.


You're ready for a course material fee model if:

1. You want to make course materials a predictable expense for your students and avoid sticker shock

One of the downsides to a traditional bookstore model is that students are often faced with unpredictable per-unit costs of their course materials. Your students might be surprised at how affordable their titles are one term, only to find that what they need for the next costs three times as much. With a course material fee model, you can let your students know what their course materials will cost them in advance, so they can plan accordingly. You can also manage your prices by course, program or major, or implement a flat fee for all students.

2. You want to automate delivery to your students, ensuring they show up for the first day of class prepared with their course materials

When students are left to their own devices, students' habits can interfere with acquiring their materials. They might wait too long and have to pay more when lower-cost options sell out. They might also shop outside of your Online Bookstore thinking they can save money, only to face serious problems like receiving the wrong title too late and being unable to return it. By making course material fulfillment an automatic part of a students' tuition and fees, MBS Direct can offer you even steeper discounts you can pass onto students, encouraging more to acquire their materials and save money in the process.

3. You know the program you're considering is compliant with federal mandates

New regulations require that schools allow students to "opt out of the [books-in-tuition or course material fee model] provided by the institution and use his or her credit balance funds to obtain books and supplies elsewhere." Simply put, your program will need to allow students to opt out if they choose. While the convenience and affordability are big bonuses for students, MBS Direct's course material fee program, Direct Success, is designed to help students easily, voluntarily withdraw from participation if they so choose. This keeps your school compliant and ultimately gives your students choice.

4. You have determined whether you want all physical books, digital titles or a mix of both

With MBS Direct, you don't have to sacrifice academic freedom to implement a course material fee at your school. Instructors can still choose from their choice of materials in their choice of format from our expansive catalog. Physical titles will be shipped to your choice of your students' address or directly to your school for distribution, while students' eBooks and other digital course materials can be accessed through your school's LMS or through your Online Bookstore.

5. You aren't ready to over-commit

If you're still not 100% sure about such a program at your school, don't worry. It isn't necessary to sign a restrictive, long-term contract. You can try it out one term at a time to see what you think, and your faculty are free to adjust their adoptions as much as they'd like from term to term.

If you're interested in learning more, contact MBS Direct today.

Is a Course Material Fee Program Right for Your Students?

About Dean Asher

Dean Asher is a former copywriter with MBS. Though he no longer writes for us, he is still proud of having helped this blog continue to evolve as an industry-leading resource of news and original content.

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