How Inclusive Access Can Lower the Cost of College

How Inclusive Access Can Lower the Cost of College

Inclusive access

Imagine a student gets into her dream college (sound the trumpets!). Unfortunately, with a steep tuition to shoulder, she puts off purchasing the required textbooks, which means she’s not fully prepared for her classes.

The truth is, 91% of students who chose to delay or forgo buying course materials admitted it was due to the cost—and 50% of these students said their grades were negatively impacted due to their decision.1

In fact, coming to class prepared improves student outcomes. Studies show that 63% of students who had their textbooks with them on the first day of class completed the course, while only 29% of the students who showed up without the materials finished the course.2

So how can students get the materials they need at a price they can afford? Digital resources cost a fraction of the price of a color, hardbound textbook, and students can save up to 60% just by switching from print to digital.3 Furthermore, students who used both the printed textbook and a digital learning platform showed a 79% improvement rate in their grades compared to a 51% improvement rate for those who only used the book.3

Setting Students Up for Continued Success

Most people—parents, educators, and publishers alike—would agree that students shouldn’t have to spend tons of time and energy researching purchasing options when they already have a lot on their plates.

The United States Department of Education has made it possible for publishers and learning companies to partner with colleges and universities to initiate inclusive access programs, also known as digital discount or digital direct access programs. Inclusive access allows institutions to include the cost of supplies and books in their tuition fees. As a result, students gain instant digital access to their required textbooks on the first day of class.

Positively Impacting Colleges and Universities Nationwide

Inclusive access programs are getting easier to implement on college and university campuses with each academic year. Wiley, along with other educational publishers, technology providers, and major digital content suppliers like VitalSource, is working to support inclusive access initiatives. Even bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble support textbook affordability and accessibility, and Follett’s includED® program helps deliver all required course materials—print and digital—to students as part of their tuition.4

The inclusive access trend also carries over to the independent bookstore sector. The start-up tech company RedShelf helps independently owned and operated college bookstores provide more affordable digital textbooks to students using its e-reader platform.5 Associated with the National Association of College Stores, indiCo is another organization that works with independent campus bookstores to lower costs for students.6

The Proof: Saving Students Millions

Inclusive access saves students millions of dollars every year, which means they can spend more time focusing on their studies and less time worrying about how they’re going to pay for books. Indiana University has helped 47,000 students save more than $15 million since its eTextbook pilot program began in 2009, and the University of California Davis has helped 17,000 students save more than $2.3 million since spearheading its inclusive access program in 2014.7

The inclusive access model is making a difference in students’ lives so that when they do get accepted to their dream schools, they’ll have everything they need to succeed. What are your thoughts on the inclusive access model?


1 “2017 Wakefield Study: COST LEADING STUDENTS TO SKIP TEXTBOOKS.” VitalSource.
2 “Day-One Access to Affordable Student Course Materials (Paid Content by VitalSource from The Chronicle of Higher Education).” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 Jan. 2017
3 “Engaging Readers in the Digital Age.” Association of American Publishers
4 IncludED– Follett.
5 Pletz on Tech, John. “ Digital College Textbook Startup RedShelf Raises $4 Million.”Crain’s Chicago Business, 25 Aug. 2016
6 IndiCo
7 “Inclusive Access Programs.” American Association of Publishers