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Guidebook for ordering Textbooks, Instructional Materials and Equipment

Introdu​ction | Program Information Sources | Parental Certificate for Requesting Student Participation | Sample Letter to be Sent Home to Parents and Guardians | Identification of Textbooks, Instructional Materials and Equipment | Disposal of Textbooks Loaned from the Secretary of Education | Program Definitions | Eligibility Criteria

​​​Under Acts 195/90/35 for Nonpublic and Private School Students


This guidebook is for teachers and administrators of nonpublic and private schools to help them in their understanding, responsibility and use of the textbooks, instructional materials, and equipment loan programs. These programs are offered under Act 195 of 1972 (July 12, 1972, P.L. 863, No. 195), Act 90 of 1975 (August 1, 1975, P.L. 183, No. 90), and Act 35 of 2001 (June 22, 2001, P.L. 530, No. 35) and were established for use by Pennsylvania resident students attending nonpublic and private schools in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. See Section 9-923-A of the Public-School Code of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30 as amended, 24 P.S. § 9-923-A.

This guidebook should be used in conjunction with the Nonpublic and Private Information System (NPIS) User Guide. NPIS is the information system that will be used by teachers and administrators of nonpublic and private schools to request: eligibility approval of textbooks; instructional materials and equipment; create and submit purchase requisitions; check status of purchase requisitions; and review allotment balances. It includes a catalog of items which have been requested by schools under the textbook, instructional materials and equipment loan program established by the State Board of Education 22 Pa. Code § 114.1—114.25, and 115.1 —115.27. It identifies whether each listed item has been determined "eligible" or "not eligible" for the program.

Each year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly appropriates funds for the purchase and loan of textbooks, instructional materials and equipment to eligible Pennsylvania resident students enrolled in, and attending full time, nonpublic and private schools recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

PDE encourages schools to consider using research or evidenced-based materials as their instructional items or to consider best practice resources. This will support schools in providing a high quality-education to their students. The Department's Standards Aligned System (SAS) web portal contains excellent resources for learning more about research or evidence-based strategies for instruction. Visit the SAS web portal.

Teachers and administrators should become familiar with this Guidebook. They are responsible for requesting only items that are eligible for purchase and they should refer to the Guidebook to answer questions when determining eligibility of textbooks, materials and equipment.

PDE's School Services Office retains the responsibility for rendering final decisions regarding items to be purchased.

Program Information Sources

Allocation of Funds and Eligibility of Items

Questions concerning school allocations and questions concerning submission of new items should be directed to the following:

Pennsylvania Department of Education
School Services Office
Acts 195/90/35 Textbooks and Materials Program
Forum Building, 607 South Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17120
Telephone: 717-783-9282 | TTY: 717-783-8445 | Fax: 717-783-9283 | ​

Item Shipment, Vendor and Billing Issues, Submission of Purchase Requisitions

Questions regarding non-shipment of items, vendors, billing issues and creation and submission of purchase requisitions should be directed to the following:

Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of Management Services
Division of Procurement, Grants and Payables
Attn: Act 195/90/35 Section​
Forum Building, 607 South Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17120​

Parental Certificate for Requesting Student Participation

Section 9-923-A (c) of the Pennsylvania Public School Code provides that PDE shall have the power and duty to loan textbooks, instructional materials and equipment to children residing in the Commonwealth who are enrolled in kindergarten through 12 grade in a nonpublic school. A per pupil allotment is set based on student enrollment to eligible and participating nonpublic and private schools for these eligible purchases. The nonpublic school receives no direct funding however; the school submits purchase requisitions against its allotment. The items purchased with this money are on loan to the students from PDE and are the property of PDE. Participating schools are required to maintain on file at the school "Certificates of Request" from parents or guardians for textbooks, instructional materials and equipment loaned to their children (22 Pa. Code §114.25)

A Certificate of Individual Request for Loan of Textbooks, Instructional Materials and Equipment can be found on page 5, together with an explanatory cover letter for the parents. Please reproduce sufficient copies of the form and cover letter and distribute to each family that has children enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 at your school. Nursery/preschool students and students enrolled at another day school are not eligible, as well as children who do not reside in Pennsylvania.

Certificates are required for all new families enrolled in the school. It is suggested that you make this form part of your registration packet for students. The parents/guardians should sign the form and return it to the school. The school will maintain the Certificates of Request on file. The file must be available for inspection by the appropriate authority. New Certificate of Request forms are required each school year. Schools that are first time participants in the program must have all parents/guardians of eligible students complete a Certificate of Request. A letter stating that the certificates are on file shall be sent to the Acts 195/90/35 Coordinator in the School Services Office at PDE each year. Please send to PDE, School Services Office, Acts 195/90/35 Textbooks and Materials Program, 333 Market St., 7th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333. You may remove certificates from your files for children no longer enrolled at your school.

Identification of Textbooks, Instructional Materials and Equipment

All textbooks, instructional materials and equipment are to be stamped or identified as shown below:

ACT 195/ACT 90/Act 35 – SCHOOL YEAR

Please note: Program funds cannot be used to purchase identification stamps. They are available in any office supply store and must be purchased with school funds.

Disposal of Textbooks Loaned from the Secretary of Education

School administrators are authorized to dispose of old textbooks at the end of the sixth school year after acquisition by one or more of the following methods:

  1. Textbooks, which are still usable but no longer needed, may be:
    1. transferred to any public school, intermediate unit or to any nonpublic/private school participating in the Acts 195/90/35 programs (sending school must keep record of the transfer); or
    2. given to students for possible home use and reference.
  2. Textbooks which are no longer usable may be discarded.​

NOTE: Any items acquired under the programs ARE NOT to be sold by the nonpublic school.

Program Definitions

Textbooks Loan Program and Instructional Materials and Equipment Program

"Textbooks" are defined as books, workbooks, including reusable and non-reusable workbooks, and manuals, whether bound or in loose-leaf form, intended for student use as a principal source of study material for a given class or group of students. Such textbooks must be those acceptable for use in any public elementary or secondary school in the Commonwealth. 24 P.S. § 9-923-A(b).

NOTE: All items ordered must be completely nonsectarian in nature.

"Instructional Materials" are defined as pre-prepared learning materials, which are secular, neutral and non-ideological in character and are of benefit to the instruction of nonpublic and private school children on an individual basis and are presently or hereafter provided for public school children of the Commonwealth. 24 P.S. § 9-923-A(b).

"Instructional Equipment" is defined as equipment, other than fixtures annexed to and forming part of the real estate, which is suitable for and to be used by children and/or teachers. The term includes, but is not limited to, projection equipment, recording equipment, laboratory equipment, and any other educational secular, neutral, non-ideological equipment as may be of benefit to the instruction of nonpublic and private school children and are presently or hereafter provided for public school children of the Commonwealth. 24 P.S. § 9-923-A(b). Eligible purchases under the Equipment Program shall include, but not be limited to: computer software (including software with word processing,) computer hardware, printers, CD/DVD players, tape recorders, film, iPads and electronic readers, projectors, cameras, camcorders, Smart boards, electronic response systems, and Apple TV.

NOTE: When requesting a new item for purchase, please provide a brief but informative justification as to how these items will be used.

Eligibility Criteria

Rationale for Ordering

In order to better understand how to determine if the item(s) you are ordering are appropriate under this funding, the following key questions are presented to help guide you through your consideration for ordering textbooks, instructional materials and equipment:

  1. Is this item, by its very nature, of benefit to the instruction of students, either in a small group or on an individual basis? Your response should be YES.
  2. Is this item primarily a learning tool for the student and not a teaching tool for the teacher? Your response should be YES.
  3. Is this item provided to Pennsylvania public school students? Your response should be YES.
  4. Is this item to be used for anything other than classroom use by the students? Your response should be NO.
  5. Is this item religiously oriented or does it provide a religious perspective? Your response should be NO.

Eligible Items

For a list of eligible items, you can do a search in NPIS by clicking on the "Items" tab, select "Eligible" from the "Item Eligibility Status" field and click Search. You can search by specific vendor and even a specific item, if you have the ISBN or item number.

Purchasing Instructional "Kits"

Many vendors on the market offer instructional kits. However, such kits are often difficult to evaluate for approval. Many of these kits contain a mix of eligible and ineligible items. Therefore, we have established the following general rule of thumb for considering the eligibility of such kits for purchase: Kits containing more than 75 percent of items which are clearly eligible if ordered separately will be approved for purchase. Kits containing more than 25 percent of items which are clearly ineligible if ordered separately will not be approved for purchase.

Replenishing materials contained in original kits is not appropriate unless such materials are eligible for purchase separately.

Items Provided by Vendors Free of Charge

Many vendors will include with an order, at no charge, teacher support materials which would normally be ineligible for purchase, or other materials that would normally be ineligible for purchase. Such items MAY be requested but must be marked as "no charge" when requesting a new item through NPIS.

Items Not Eligible For Purchase

The items listed below and on the following pages will not be approved for purchase. This list is only a guide and is not exhaustive. It is not intended to portray all ineligible items. Please use the key questions for consideration under Rationale for Ordering above to determine what is and is not eligible for purchase. A search of "Not Eligible" items can be done in NPIS for a better understanding of what items are not eligible for purchase. PDE retains the authority to render final decisions regarding items to be purchased. Because an item may have been approved previously does not necessarily mean it will be approved at a later time.

Some common ineligible items are listed under the various core subject categories on pages 17 and 18 in order to convey a better understanding. However, if an item is ineligible under one subject area, it is automatically considered ineligible for use in all subjects.

Example of Items Not Approved (but not limited to this list)

  • Alternating Current (AC) Adaptors
  • Binders/Folders/Portfolios
  • Bulletin boards
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • College Board achievement tests
  • Computer operating software
  • Easels/stands/racks
  • Electric appliances/tools (floor model)
  • Electric appliance parts
  • Electronic connectors/cables
  • Equipment (including, but not limited to televisions, scanners, laminators, copiers, fax, etc.)
    Note: Please see equipment definition for eligible equipment purchases
  • First aid cabinets/kits
  • Floor mats
  • Furniture (including, but not limited to desks, chairs, stools, tables, etc.)
  • Headphones
  • Internet routers
  • Lasers/laser pointers
  • Mounting brackets
  • Office supplies (including, but not limited to staplers, staples, files, 3-hole punch, paper trimmer, etc.)
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Portfolios/folders
  • Psychological testing materials
  • Religiously oriented items
  • Rental/royalty fees
  • Scoring keys
  • Speakers
  • Standardized tests
  • Storage apparatus
  • Student certificates/awards/name plates
  • Wall Decorations (such as borders, wall/window clings, posters that are not instructional (please provide justification if ordering posters))
  • Teacher/counselor materials (including, but not limited to, teachers' editions, lesson plans, manuals, guidebooks)
  • Volume vouchers for Ipad

Common Ineligible Items by Subject Area


  • Cleaning fluids
  • Drawing boards
  • Drying racks
  • Kiln (and parts)
  • Potter's wheel (floor model)
  • Tripod

Home Economics

  • Linens

Industrial Arts

  • Drafting tables/boards
  • Lumber
  • Mechanical parts
  • Metals
  • Power tools (floor model)
  • Toolboxes
  • Workbenches


  • Bean bag chairs
  • Book stand/bins
  • Listening centers
  • Pillows
  • Playground equipment
  • Playhouses
  • Rest mats
  • Riding toys


  • Music stands
  • Musical instruments
  • Resonator bells
  • Tuners

Physical Education

  • Air pumps
  • Athletic tape
  • Bags/carriers
  • Exercise equipment (includes weight sets)
  • Dumbbells (over 10 pounds)
  • Guns
  • Marker items (such as cones, tape, etc.)
  • Megaphones
  • Punch bags
  • Team sports equipment
  • Trampolines
  • Whistle


  • Aquariums/Animal Cages/Incubators/Terrariums
  • Batteries
  • Chemicals
  • Electroscopes
  • Eyewash stations
  • Lab coats
  • Laser kits/accessories/beams
  • Liquids
  • Ovens
  • Plants
  • Power supplies
  • Propane gas tanks/burners/stands
  • Spark generators
  • Transformers
  • Transistors
  • Wall mounted thermometers
  • Wave generators

Special Education

  • Visual and hearing machine
  • Weighted lap pad/blanket