Big Red Backpack program offers a new opportunity for students.


Robert Fischer

screenshot of Big Red Backpack presentation.

Makaio Smith, Staff Writer

On Monday July 25th the WKU store will be sending out an email to students so that they can confirm their textbook order for their courses and select a delivery option.

 WKU students who have registered for classes are automatically enrolled in the Big Red Backpack program

“Students will follow the link in the email to go to their account with the WKU store website where they can look at the courses they are enrolled in and the required materials they need,” Jennifer Tougas, assistant vice president of business services, said. “ They will go ahead and confirm the book and from there they will be able to select how they want to get them.”

Students will be able to pick from picking up the materials from the WKU store or having the materials shipped to them.

The WKU Store will also host a drive through which will be held in parking structure 2 the Sunday before the first day of classes. Students will be able to drive through and  pick up their textbooks.

This program is a partnership with Barnes & Noble, which operates The WKU Store, to streamline how books and course materials are delivered to students. Professors submit a list of their required course materials to the bookstore and the store’s staff will prepare the materials for each student.

This idea was brought to Provost Robert “Bud” Fischer by the WKU Student Government Association.

“The students were the drivers of this, they brought it to us,” Fischer said. “They saw it and saw how we could help them.”

The purpose of this program is to make sure that students have access to the required materials for their courses by the first day of classes at a more affordable price. 

The key benefits for students are:

  • Equitable access – every student will be able to have all required course materials on or before the first day of class.
  • Convenience – the materials will be delivered to the students.
  • Affordability – students can save on average between 35% to 50% on the cost of  course materials across their time at WKU.

Faculty contribute to the program by submitting their course material selections to the WKU Store by the adoption deadline of April 15 for fall, Oct. 15 for winter and spring, and March 1 for summer.

With this program students will pay $24 per credit hour for their required course materials. For students who take 15 credit hours, it will be $360. The fee is automatically applied to their WKU student account.

Here’s how the program works:

  • Students will automatically be enrolled in the Big Red Backpack program when they register for classes.
  • One month before classes start, the WKU Store will send the student an email welcoming them to the Big Red Backpack program. This email will contain instructions on how to get their books. 
  • Following those instructions, the student will confirm their course materials list and select their delivery method. This will place their order with the WKU Store.
  • After the WKU Store has fulfilled their order, the WKU store will notify students by email. This email will contain any further details needed, including pick-up or delivery information.  
  • Any digital materials will be delivered for course(s) within Blackboard.

“We feel that this new way of doing it will allow every student to make the choice to have their materials and books on the first day of class,” Fischer said. “ There is no mandate to be in this program.”

If a student decides that they do not want to participate in the program, they are able to opt-out. The Big Red Backpack website offers instructions on how students are able to opt out. 

Madelyn Mullins, a junior at WKU, will be taking 15 credit hours in the fall semester, making her bill $360. Mullins is choosing to opt-out of the program, seeing as she would be paying more than if she bought the few books she needed herself.

“I think in theory it’s a good idea but I’ve only needed two to three books every semester so it would be a waste of money for me,” Mullins said. “It’s just another charge on my student account that I don’t need.”

If a student decides that they do not want to participate in the program, they are able to opt-out. The Big Red Backpack website offers instructions on how students are able to opt out. 

“If a student takes a look at their list of textbooks and decides that it’s cheaper for them to not be in the program and they need to opt-out of the program, then they can visit the Big Red Backpack webpage,” Tougas said. “There will be a link in the FAQ section that will allow students to go through the opt-out online process.”

WKU previously had  a program similar to this one but it was only for digital course materials. This new program will be similar to a rental form of getting the materials, said Fischer. 

Students must return the course materials and textbooks to the WKU store at the end of the semester. While this is a rental style program students will have the option to purchase their textbooks at a lowered cost during the return period.

If a student  drops a class, they will need to return any print materials they received for the dropped class to the WKU Store. If appropriate, a credit will be issued to their student account, the Big red Backpack website said. 

WKU currently recommends allocating $500 toward books for an academic term. There will be a way for students to opt out for any reason. There will be a deadline at the start of each semester to opt out of the Big Red Backpack program. This date will be provided as part of the program announcements each semester.

The Big Red Backpack webpage on the WKU website lists more information.


Makaio Smith can be reached at [email protected].