WIN grant plus matching funds will lessen student expenses

Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN) has awarded two grants that total $168,000 to help Nebraska’s veterans with legal services and help University of Nebraska students with the cost of learning materials.

The University of Nebraska received an $84,000 grant to assist a program that is lowering the cost of textbooks and other materials for students at three of its campuses. Legal Aid of Nebraska received an $84,000 grant to assist in its services to military veterans in the care of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital. 

The grants were announced in an online celebration with members and guests from across the state. It brings WIN’s cumulative grants to University of Nebraska and Nebraska community projects to nearly $1.39 million.

University’s program lessens textbook costs for undergraduate students

WIN’s grant of $84,000 to the University of Nebraska supports a program that helps to reduce the costs students incur for textbooks and other learning resources. The program provides access to open educational resources — digital materials available freely or at reduced cost — as well as assistance for faculty members who seek the appropriate academic materials for their classes at lower costs for students. 

The Inclusive Access and Open Educational Resources Program began in 2017 with a series of initial grants from the university and has saved students an estimated $2.5 million.

In addition to the grant from WIN, the University of Nebraska office of the executive vice president and provost will match the grant with another $84,000 to support the program. With this combined support, it’s estimated the program will reach its goal to save students and families $10 million by 2023.

Jaci Lindburg, University of Nebraska assistant vice president for IT strategy and learning technology, leads the program’s partnership between academic affairs, libraries and information technology efforts across the university to leverage free and lower cost digital resources.

“This is such an exciting program for us, one that we are so eager to rally around even more with this additional funding, because it’s all about the students,” Lindburg said. “First, of course, it impacts their ability to be successful in a class, because they have access to the materials they need in the course to complete readings, assignments and exams. The cost savings also allow students to redirect these funds to take additional courses they need toward their degrees.”

WIN Grants Committee Chair Cassie Kohl of Omaha said the opportunity to support a program that would benefit so many University of Nebraska students appealed to WIN members.

“This project was specifically exciting for WIN, because it involves three campuses — the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the University of Nebraska at Omaha,” Kohl said. “One of the goals of WIN is to reach as much of the state with our dollars as possible. In addition, with the pandemic and a lot of the world switching to remote options, this is a very timely issue and solution.” 

In 2018, the average U.S. college student paid about $1,200 a year for standard textbooks according to College Board, and Lindburg said about two-thirds of college students are not buying the textbooks they need because of high costs. With the University of Nebraska program, a student’s personal financial responsibility for textbooks could drop below $40 per class and provide immediate access to course materials each semester.

Watch the grant presentation and post celebration conversation with WIN members from these video links.