Program offers free books to military students

Kylie Carlson

WKU’s Textbooks for Troops program has grown from 14 to 1,400 military students as of the Fall semester, according to Military Student Services.

The Textbooks for Troops program is a non-profit, donation based organization founded by Tonya Archey, director of Military Student Services. The program offers free books to military students, as well as military dependent students taking WKU courses.

“As long as the student is in the military, or is military dependent, meaning an I.D. carrying student, they can benefit from this program,” Archey said.

In 2011, Archey realized there were many military men and women in the area who often went unemployed because they could not afford a college education.

Archey believes this program is one of the main deciding factors in whether or not these students get to attend college.

“Many military students do not get to attend college right away,” Archey said.

Archey also said because military students don’t attend college after high school, they are not awarded first time merit scholarships, and can’t always afford the hundreds of dollars in textbooks required each semester.

Archey said the program doesn’t just help military students at the Bowling Green campus.

“We send these books everywhere, from right here at home, to bases, all the way to different countries,” Archey said.

Rhiannon Karlsen, a WKU student serving overseas, said she has benefitted from the program.

“I am very glad that I found this school after several months of careful research,” Karlsen said. “I’m about to start my first class, and I’m so thankful for the Textbooks for Troops program. I just received the textbook for my first class all the way in Afghanistan.”

Archey, who is retired from the U.S. Navy, said WKU On-Demand is popular among military students since they can study during their deployment.

“When you are sitting in those bunkers, you usually don’t get to sit around and watch TV,” Archey said. “[WKU] On-Demand offers them something they wouldn’t normally have the access to on deployment.”

Another student who has benefitted is now a graduate student and is working for WKU. Teresa Jameson, U.S. Air Force veteran and office assistant in Counseling and Testing Center, was a single mother and in college when she found Textbooks for Troops.

“I did not know about the program my first semester so I paid for the books out of pocket which hit me and my daughters hard,” Jameson said. She was a commuter student when she started at WKU, traveling back and forth to class. “As a commuter student and gas prices being extremely high at the time, I needed every penny just to put gas in the car to get to class.”

Jameson said her second semester was easier financially, however, once she found the program.

“My second semester I used T4T [Textbooks for Troops] and it saved me a huge amount of money which meant I could pay for gas to get to class,” Jameson said in an email.

Jameson added she tries to buy her books now in graduate school in order to donate them to the program.

“I try to use the program when I need it but I also try to buy some of my books and then donate them to the program for future students to use as well,” Jameson said.

Textbooks for Troops relies solely on donations to fund the program. Archey said the growing amount of donations has also allowed the reach of the program to grow as well.

“Our first year we received 25 books,” Archey said. “And now we have over $300,000 dollars worth of books in our office and are running out of room to put them.”

The Textbooks for Troops program accepts new and used books from every major and minor, undergraduate and graduate courses and kiosks for donations are located in areas around campus including the lobby of Mass Media and Technology Hall.

Reporter Kylie Carlson can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @kentuckylie.