Textbooks are just one of the many expenses that fall on college students and their families in addition to tuition and, oftentimes, dormitories, meal plans, and more. According to a recent study, textbook costs are the second-largest stressor facing college students after paying for tuition. The study also found that 60% of African American students noted did not buy required textbooks and course materials because of the high costs.
To help ease the financial burden of higher education–an epidemic that disproportionately affects students of colors–the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Cengage have partnered to provide 1,000 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with access to textbooks. Through this new initiative, Cengage, an education and technology company, is giving select students free semester-long subscriptions to its first-of-its-kind digital subscription service for college textbooks and course materials.
Cengage Unlimited subscriptions, which is essentially like the “Netflix-for-textbooks,” offers access to more than 22,000 eBooks, online homework access codes, study guides, and tools like Chegg, Kaplan, and Quizlet. It normally costs $119.99 a semester. However, eligible students will gain access to the subscription at no charge. To apply for the program, HBCU students must be of African descent, obtain a 2.5 GPA or better, demonstrated a financial need, and submit an essay and letter of recommendation.
“Every student should have an equal opportunity to succeed, and having the right learning materials can have a critical impact on performance,” said Michael Hansen, the CEO of Cengage, in a statement. “The high cost of textbooks have prohibited this for many students. This is why we launched Cengage Unlimited – to make quality learning more affordable.
UNCF, the largest educational organization supporting and advocating for minorities, will administer the program and select the recipients on behalf of Cengage. Ultimately, the UNCF-Cengage partnership aims to combat the disparities in education and help improve college affordability by an overhaul of outdated models.
“For 75 years, our motto ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in,’ has remained at the forefront of everything we do,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, the president and CEO of UNCF. “We must continue to invest our time and money in better futures for young people around the country. Partners like Cengage are vitally important to this work and we are pleased to have them as an ally in helping to educate the next generation of leaders.”
Applications are being accepted through August 29 for the fall semester. Applications for the Spring 2020 semester will open on November 4, 2019. Students can learn more and apply here.