With the start of the fall semester, Villa Maria College delivered books and supplies to students at no additional cost outside of tuition. CollegeBoard estimates that this change saves students and their families an average of $1240 in out-of-pocket costs per year. The College launched this effort to help make college more affordable and easier to navigate for all students.
To ensure all students receive the art and design supplies they need, the College partnered with Hyatt’s – All Things Creative, one of the top providers of art supplies in the nation that is located right here in Buffalo. “When we considered how we would get graphic and art supplies into the hands of our students, we didn’t have to look farther than our own hometown, and Hyatt’s,” said Dr. Giordano, the president of Villa Maria College. “Hyatt’s has an outstanding reputation of providing the best art supplies with great customer service, it was the perfect fit for us.”
“Going back to our foundation in 1959, our company was really built on sourcing and supplying design professionals with the specialized tools they needed. So today, to still be able to help future professionals get the tools they need to begin their education on the right foot really is a core mission for us,” said Elizabeth Hyatt-Martin, co-owner of Hyatt’s – All Things Creative. “It was such a great experience working with the administration at Villa who went above and beyond the normal process to secure those supplies in advance and make the process seamless for their students. I think it really shows how much attention to detail they put into making sure their students are set up for success from the beginning.”
“Villa Maria College is really ahead of the game when it comes to student success,” said JaVonntae Hill, a second-year student dual majoring in Game Design and Animation. “This isn’t my first college experience and, compared to other colleges, Villa Maria really goes above and beyond to ensure their students’ success. Eliminating the cost of textbooks and supplies is just another testament to Villa putting education and success first. You truly can depend on everyone at Villa to put your education first.”
Books and supplies are ordered for each student individually, based on what the instructor has indicated is needed. Since the Fall 2021 semester began on August 30, College staff members have been busy distributing textbooks and supplies to students from the Book Distribution Center, which is centrally located in the dining hall. Students only need their student ID card or confirmation email to get their textbooks and supplies.
Only a few weeks into the semester, the College’s newest student success initiative has made a positive difference. “The free books program has had an immediate impact on students here at Villa Maria,” said Elizabeth Kerr, director of student success. “Students are typically floored when they learn that this significant, out-of-pocket cost is not being passed on to them. In past semesters, students would resort to sharing textbooks or getting the minimum number of supplies just to get by. Now, they have immediate access to the textbooks and supplies they need to get to work right away. Students and faculty alike are excited to start learning on day one, knowing everyone has equitable access to the materials.”
Lucy Waite, director of library services, has been at the forefront of the College’s book distribution efforts. She agrees that the elimination of out-of-pocket costs has helped all students get a strong start to the semester.
“Students are so excited that they don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for books and supplies now,” said Waite. “Some of them can’t even believe it — they ask if we’re sure that they don’t have to pay and are thrilled when we tell them it’s true. They’re able to jump in and get started on their coursework immediately, not wasting any time that they used to spend waiting for their financial aid or paycheck to clear. And everyone can participate in class activities right away too; no one is left behind because of an inability to get course materials.”
Despite the high cost of textbooks and supplies nation-wide, Villa Maria College is the only college in the Western New York area and beyond that has directly addressed this major challenge. “The increasing cost of textbooks, art supplies, medical supplies, and more has proven to be a major to barrier to the success of our students, said Dr. Giordano. “Students come to Villa Maria to prepare for successful futures and to fine-tune their innate talents, not to worry about the ever-increasing cost of books and supplies. Building these costs directly into tuition allows our students to focus on meeting their goals and discovering their paths instead of worrying about paying for textbooks or shopping around for the best deal.”
“Supporting our students in all facets, personal and academic, has always been Villa Maria’s top priority,” said Dr. Ryan Hartnett, Villa Maria’s vice president for academic affairs.
“Many books will be offered electronically and will be seamlessly delivered to students through D2L, Villa Maria’s learning management system,” continued Dr. Hartnett. “We will make arrangements to meet the needs of any student who needs a specialty textbook or a specific accommodation.”
“It’s great that Villa cares enough to include books with tuition,” said Markisha Harris, an interior design student at the College. “It will be really nice to focus on doing my best work instead of having to search a bunch of different websites in hopes of finding the cheapest book price.”
To learn more about Villa Maria College’s free book and supply offering, visit Villa.edu/books.