By Cailyn Nagle

Automatic textbook billing has spread across the country since the Department of Education’s changes to the Cash Management Rule in 2016. The updated regulations allow postsecondary institutions to automatically bill students for course materials with two main guardrails: the materials must be “below competitive market rates,” and students must be able to opt out of the program. Despite the popularity of this model and student anecdotes, public data on the lived experience of students navigating this model are limited, which this small-scale survey aims to begin to address. As automatic textbook billing programs spread in institutions of higher learning, the survey serves as an invitation. First, this is an invitation to repeat this work at a larger scale and in more diverse settings; secondly, and most importantly, it is an invitation to center the experience and perspectives of students in the policy decisions that impact them directly.

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Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation working toward equity for underserved and historically underrepresented communities by expanding access to educational and employment opportunities, increasing affordability of educational programs, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for individuals to thrive. To do so, we work in the following verticals: Digital Equity, Intellectual Property, Smart Justice, Student Basic Needs, and Open Educational Resources (OER). Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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