College affordability continues to play a leading role in the American political and social climate, with U.S. student loan debt now a whopping $1.5 trillion. As students across the country head back to campus this fall, finding a way to pay the rising cost is a growing burden for many. And it’s not just tuition and housing: Students say textbook costs are their top source of financial stress after paying the tuition bill.
In fact, some students say textbook costs are so out of reach that they’ve stopped buying them at all. And nearly half say they skip meals to pay for books.
The education and technology company Cengage has taken a new approach to help students solve this problem. The company launched Cengage Unlimited, a first-of-its-kind subscription service for college textbooks and course materials.
The service, which some have called “Netflix-for-textbooks,” gives students access to more than 22,000 course materials for one price: about $120 a semester.
Considering students spend, on average, about $500 annually on course materials, the subscription can save students as much as half of what they were paying previously. A subscription also gives students more than just textbooks – subscribers have free access to popular learning tools like Chegg, Kaplan Test Prep, Evernote and Quizlet.
The subscription quickly found success, with accolades from students and teachers alike. In just seven months of availability, the service sold more than one million subscriptions (hitting this milestone faster than Hulu, Spotify and Netflix). Students from more than 500 colleges have saved $60 million so far.
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