Immediate Access replaced with new Equitable Access program for textbooks

Mara Macías, an SDSU Imperial Valley Librarian explains to the College Council the details of Equitable Access and answers questions.

Gabriel Schneider

Mara Macías, an SDSU Imperial Valley Librarian explains to the College Council the details of Equitable Access and answers questions.

San Diego State announced it will be switching from the textbook access program Immediate Access to a new program called Equitable Access starting in the fall 2022 semester. 

“Most students don’t realize that this is happening,” College of Engineering Student Council President Tito Hernandez said. “Most students don’t care because the communication behind it is really, really poor. Most students don’t know exactly what is happening, and they’re really going to suffer because of that.”

All of the students interviewed about the new program said they found out through social media and actually did not  see the email sent out by the school. 

Equitable Access will allow all undergraduate students to access their course materials on the first day of instruction for a flat fee of $22 per credit.

Students will be able to access their materials through the add/drop date even if they opt out of the Equitable Access program.

However, many students aren’t convinced about the cost benefit that the new program offers.

“Next semester I have 17 units. So, 17 times $22 equals about $374. Which I find crazy to be spending that amount on just books. The majority of the time, I can find my books on Amazon for way cheaper,” psychology second year Sarah Robles said.

A statement published by RedShelf, the technology company which partners with SDSU to provide access to course materials for students said the “Equitable Access program aims to improve student affordability, readiness, and success by ensuring that every student has access to all their required course materials.”      

The previous Immediate Access program allowed students to access their course materials by the first day of class on a variable book to book rate. 

Students will still access materials through RedShelf and will be billed for the program later in the fall semester through student account services.

The decision to enforce an opt-out rather than an opt-in was pushed by the publishers in the negotiation process.

Mara Macías, an SDSU Imperial Valley Librarian, said publishers are focused on making money, but the focus for the school was to get the best prices for students.

“This is a breakeven proposition for the bookstore,” Macías said. “This is not a money making proposition for the bookstore.” 

Students are in the program immediately after they register for classes and can start to opt-out on July 27, when book lists are released.

After the add-drop date, students will be notified that their account was charged with an Equitable Access fee that is added from the amount of units taken. 

If a student forgets to opt-out and contacts the student account services it will be changed over and they will not be charged, according to Macías. 

Macías emphasized that each individual student needs to decide if Equitable Access will be beneficial with the amount of units and required textbooks in their schedule.  

Financial aid can be used with Equitable Access unlike the past program Immediate Access.

The library will work with SDSU’s Economic Crisis Response Team to aid students who are struggling with textbook costs.

The SDSU Bookstore released the following statement regarding the switch to the Equitable Access program:

“This program provides each student access to all of their required course materials before the first day of class for the low rate of $22 per unit/credit. Students can keep that access through the add/drop date even if they opt out of the program. The program provides undergraduates with predictable pricing which allows them to budget for their course materials semester to semester.”