Academics & Research News

CTAP cuts textbook prices for students


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

UH is launching a pilot program called the Cougar Textbook Access Program designed to help students access textbooks in a digital rental format at reduced prices by integrating costs into the student fee bill.

Several winter mini and regular Spring 2022 class sections across a wide range of campus departments have automatically signed all of the students up for the CTAP pilot. Students will have automatic digital access for at least 180 days in most cases.

Students in these classes have the option to opt-out via a portal by Feb. 2. They will then be responsible for obtaining the required course materials on their own.

Participating classes for the pilot semesters include certain sections of biochemistry I, information systems applications, language disorders in children and federal and Texas government, among many others.

“The CTAP pilot program allows students to access required course materials for this course on or before the first day of class at significant savings over purchasing new and, in most cases, even used physical retail books,” UH Auxiliary Services said in an email to students in these classes.

For example, a new textbook for an introduction to the hospitality industry class costs $125.50, while a used version costs $94.25, according to the CTAP announcement webpage. With CTAP, however, students will have $37.50 charged to their student fee bill as a learning material fee.

If students have scholarships or financial aid that exceeds the tuition costs, the extra aid can cover the CTAP fees as well, making the textbooks free in those cases. 

Another advantage is that students will automatically have access to the digital books via Blackboard on or before the first day of class, rather than having to scramble to buy books after classes start, according to UH Auxiliary Services.

Biomedical sciences sophomore Daniel Maguadog is enrolled in biochemistry I for Spring 2022 and first heard about CTAP from an email in the past week. He believed there are both advantages and disadvantages to the program.

“I feel as if the pros would include the discount for required course materials that the program offers, as well as having the option for scholarships and financial aid to be applicable because of the tuition embedding,” Maguadog said. “Also, it’s an easy way to see what textbooks certain classes recommend.”

Despite this, Maguadog is personally planning to opt-out of the program and continue his current methods of obtaining textbooks from upperclassmen and other outside sources.

Maguadog also expressed concern that some students may be confused about CTAP, fail to opt-out even if opting out might benefit them more and rack up extra fees on their student bill.

“Oftentimes materials that are required for certain courses by the campus store are not actually necessary,” Maguadog said. “The program’s automatic enrollment could cause students to unknowingly pay for materials that they do not actually end up using.”

Government instructional assistant professor Kelley Littlepage was told in December of 2021 that her courses would take part in the CTAP pilot. She was not involved in the pilot course selection process; government classes’ course materials are selected by a committee and are the same across all instructors.

“The change does not alter the books or material used for GOVT 2305, just the way students acquire the ebook and material,” Littlepage said. “The addition of the CTAP component of this course meant the ebook and digital material are unaltered from the previous semester.”

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