Equitable Access Programs give students Day One access to all necessary digital and physical course materials--here's how to make yours a success

10 best practices for an Equitable Access Program


Equitable Access Programs give students Day One access to all necessary digital and physical course materials--here's how to make yours a success

How to Manage a Successful Equitable Access Program:

  1. How to Market Your Program to Students. The more robust your program is for students, the more acceptance it will receive from students. Marketing bullet points include convenience, everything included in tuition and fees, Day One Access for all students in all degree programs, scan-and-go for physical course materials, log-in-and-learn for digital, and free shipping for all physical course materials through students’ course materials websites. Marketing of the price should be avoided as counterproductive.
  2. How to Manage Physical Course Materials. Many programs at the university level with high enrollments implement a digital-first approach, often 75 percent or more being digital course materials. Use of digital materials involves less labor and initial course materials costs. This would average to a lower Equitable Access fee per student. However, use of primarily physical course materials is workable in an Equitable Access Program if the recycling of those materials is maximized each semester. In these cases, it is best if your course materials system uses serial barcodes, integrated with your POS system, so you can scan and track those course materials to individual students. Require the return of all physical course materials, but only fine and charge students for course materials that can be reused semester to semester, if those materials are not returned by the student. A message of recycling everything is a positive environmental message.
  3. How to Manage Digital Course Materials. There are several digital billing and publisher access providers, such as Redshelf and Vital Source, amongst others. Choose your current provider or one that can successfully integrate with your school’s Learning Management System. When the provider bills is critical to the success of your program–generally the later the better. It should not be before the drop date with a refund for students, or, even more effectively, at Census, when students’ credit hour enrollment is locked in for financial aid purposes, normally around a month after classes start. Have a process in place that determines the accuracy of the digital billing by comparing to actual current enrollment for every student in every class in the program. Details matter!
  4. How to Manage Required Course Supplies. Required course supplies can be physical labs, uniforms, or other supplies. Serialize barcode what you can of these supplies and require the return of anything reusable. However, some supplies or books may be checked-out until graduation, such as in nursing. Have a policy that says you recycle everything, because sometime those items come back unused, and you can reuse them for the next student.
  5. How to Manage the Money. Make sure the per credit hour fee is set up so the revenue is credited to the college store revenue budget account. If the college store is paying the invoices for course materials, you will need to offset those expenses against revenue, and gauge how well your program is doing financially. When you are setting the fee students will pay per credit hour, it is best to be too high rather than too low, then next year you can decrease the fee. Follow the money and you can have a successful Equitable Access Program.

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