Cornell University: Flat fee for course materials aims to increase student success

Beginning in fall 2022, all Cornell undergraduates will be able to access their required course materials for a flat fee of $225 per semester through an innovative new university program aimed at breaking down financial inequities while enhancing the student experience through academic preparedness.

The average cost of academic materials is $620 per semester nationwide – an expense that can exacerbate inequity and create divides among classmates and between students and faculty. With the Cornell Academic Materials Program (CAMP), Cornell seeks to lessen the load for its students and continue its work toward a more equitable campus that supports a positive and transformative student experience.

The Cornell Store led a team of campus partners in a yearlong, collaborative effort to reduce the cost burden of academic materials. The team also consulted a wide range of stakeholders, including students and faculty, while designing the program.

CAMP is a digital-first, subscription-based program where undergraduate students will receive all of their required textbooks for one flat price, per semester. For students receiving financial aid, the CAMP fee is included in the cost of attendance. All materials will be available before the first day of class with access through Canvas. For materials where a digital option is not available or pedagogically appropriate, a physical copy will be available for students to pick up or have delivered to them on campus.

“This is an exciting program for Cornell that will make a tremendous impact on the student academic experience,” said Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education.

Through CAMP, students are guaranteed access to their required textbooks and course packs no later than the first day of class – allowing them to engage with course content from day one, making them better prepared for their academic success. The digital-first platform also provides increased opportunities to engage with classmates and faculty within the Canvas platform. Additionally, faculty retain full academic freedom under this program.

In addition to lessening stress and hassle for students at the start of a new semester, CAMP reduces the demand for textbook production and shipping, thus cutting emissions.

Over the past several months, the planning committee has introduced CAMP to campus community members and groups, including the Student Assembly, Faculty Senate and student-led organizations, and incorporated their feedback into the program.

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to keep an eye on the Cornell Academic Materials Program website for updated frequently asked questions, training materials developed for students and faculty, and how-to guides.