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The rising cost of higher education has created financial burdens for several students throughout the country. According to a study conducted by Morning Consult, four in 10 students skipped meals to be able to afford textbooks and course materials and three in 10 students decided to opt out of a course due to the high price of required textbooks. The United Negro College Fund has teamed up with the tech-ed company Cengage to address the growing issue through the creation of a program that will provide HBCU students with free access to textbooks.

Black students have been significantly impacted by the expensive cost of textbooks. Research shows that 60 percent of African American students decided not to purchase textbooks because the prices were too high, and 52 percent say that the cost affects their finances. Furthermore, 32 percent of Black students have to sacrifice trips home to spend time with their loved ones so they can pay for their textbooks. Through the program, UNCF and Cengage will select 1,000 students to have free access to Cengage’s digital subscription platform which features over 22,000 eBooks and other course materials.

“Every student should have an equal opportunity to succeed, and having the right learning materials can have a critical impact on performance,” Michael Hansen, CEO, Cengage, said 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 has helped thousands of learners, enabling opportunity for minority students through its financial support and public advocacy. We are proud to partner with UNCF to ease some of the financial burden these students face and ensure they are equipped with the tools they need to reach their full potential.”

The leadership team at UNCF believes that this initiative will be instrumental in alleviating the financial burdens faced by HBCU students. “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,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF.

Several efforts are being made to help HBCU students better their financial situations. Morehouse College recently launched a fund to help alumni eliminate their student loan debt.

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