Cal State Long Beach will launch its Equitable Textbook Access (ETA) program next fall, in an effort to make class materials more affordable for all students by providing them access to all their textbooks for one flat rate per semester.

Students will be charged a fee at the beginning of each semester before classes begin, currently estimated at $250 for full-time students and $165 for part-time, which can be covered by financial aid.

The program will deliver all needed textbooks and materials digitally via Canvas, the online student portal, before the first day of classes. Textbooks will move with students as classes are added and dropped.

Students can also pick up physical copies of books at the University Bookstore if the print version is available and the digital version is not.

All students are automatically enrolled in the program, but they can choose to opt out by the last day of adding and dropping classes if they prefer physical prints or want to shop on their own. Key enrollment dates and deadlines can be found here.

Those who opt out will not be charged the flat fee, and students who paid the charge and opted out during the registration period will receive a refund.

The ultimate goal of the ETA program is to provide students with “immediate, affordable access” to all required course materials, according to an executive summary of the program.

CSULB also hopes to reduce its carbon footprint through decreased shipping and printing of books, according to the university’s website. Purchasing data from CSULB also shows students have a strong preference for digital materials over print.

Cal State Northridge has implemented a similar program, and following its launch, results from a survey showed that 94% of student respondents felt that the program improved their education experience, and 80% said that it improved their grades, according to CSU’s website.

As of the 2022 to 2023 academic year, 245 college campuses are using an Equitable Access program, and multiple other CSU campuses are preparing launches for 2024, according to the executive summary.

Maison Tran is a fellow at the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected].