Senior Staff Writer
During the Fall 2022 semester, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro introduced a new textbook program called UNCG First Day Complete. Described by the UNCG bookstore website as an “affordability initiative for undergraduate students,” the program’s purpose is to lower rental textbook costs and make course materials available to students. Rentals are either a physical textbook or digital materials. It excludes course kits used in classes, such as goggles or engineering materials.
There are three steps to ensure your success with the textbook program:
1. Register for classes.
2. Verify your order and delivery method.
3. Receive your materials.
The objective of this program is to reduce textbook costs; therefore, each undergraduate student will be charged $20 per credit hour through their student account. The program’s FAQ section provides this example: if a student has 15 credit hours, they would be charged 300 dollars.
Many colleges are implementing these programs to make educational resources more affordable, in a greater effort to make educational opportunities accessible to all students; regardless of their economic status. They would also like to get rid of the stressful textbook process.
There is an “All-In Textbook Program,” provided by the Enterprise State Community College in Alabama, and a similarly named “First Day Complete” program provided by the Technical College of the LowCountry in South Carolina. Respectively, the programs charge 25 and 22 dollars per credit hour. There are many more programs similar to these across universities and educational institutions in an admirable attempt to ease the financial stress of higher education.
Each of these programs states that the students still have the option to use alternative avenues to procure their materials if the flat rate isn’t economically efficient.
However, an essential component of the program is its automatic enrollment. The goal is to make textbook shopping stress-free because the student doesn’t have to worry about being stuck paying for overpriced materials or endlessly comparing prices.
On the surface, these initiatives seem to benefit the majority of UNCG students, but there are certain components that could cause even greater hassle.
The opt-out function is the student’s responsibility; they receive periodic emails to remind them that if they don’t opt-out by a certain date they will still be charged, even if they didn’t need any textbooks. Automatic enrollment, in theory, is a more affordable, stress-free option. However, the average student may not pay attention to the emails due to the flurry of messages in their inbox. As the opt-out period comes to an end, many students may be unaware that they are being charged to their student accounts.
The kicker is there is no refund available in these situations. Once the opt-out period ends, if you haven’t gone on UNCGenie to indicate that you’d like to opt-out of the program, you are stuck with a flat rate of 240 dollars or more depending on the number of credit hours.
Human error and inattention are almost inevitable, as some people will not understand the program or miss the steps to opt-out. These people are stuck paying more money for materials they might not even need. There are also alternative options that could be more cost-efficient for the colossal student debt.
There is a simple solution to this issue. All students should have the option to opt-in instead of opt-out. This program is an excellent resource for the students who can benefit from it but it should be the individual student’s choice whether or not they want to participate.
The program is still valuable and effective but establishing a fundamental change to its structure could save a lot of financial grief and confusion.