When you think back to your university days, perhaps something you've tried to erase from your memory was the fortune you spent on your education. And let's not forget the high cost of required textbooks added on top.

Recently a widely cited report caught my eye that captures the issue many students are faced with when it comes to affording higher education. It found that 65 percent of students had still opted against buying a book because it was too costly – and 55 percent of them were significantly concerned that their grade would suffer because of it. That's alarming.

In my opinion, students are in a textbook dilemma.

Izzy Hayden, a student at the University of Birmingham, summed it up best when we had a chance to chat with her. "I have enough to think about at the start of a new semester. Having textbooks should never be something I need to worry about," she said.

"I have enough to think about at the start of a new semester. Having textbooks should never be something I need to worry about."
- Izzy Hayden, University of Birmingham

The rising prices of textbooks continue to hinder students like Izzy. They either pay the high cost or not buy at all. It risks students not having the proper materials they need from the start, and for institutions, it puts student success in jeopardy.

Although institutions are doing their part to set up scholarships and financial aid to help those who cannot afford textbooks, there is a more straightforward solution. Inclusive access, which incorporates a uniform fee for textbooks as part of the tuition, removes that dilemma and makes the cost of education more transparent.

Instead of students paying high prices at the campus bookstore, shopping on their own in the open market, or not buying at all, students access course materials from within their learning environment. It ensures that textbooks are already accounted for in their tuition or class fees, delivered digitally, and as Izzy happily shared, "I always have access to the content I need on day one of class."

Institutions can point to fewer students who go without course materials, improved student outcomes, and increased course retention rates, which lead to degree completion. And students benefit from volume discounts, meaning they end up paying less for their course materials. "I saved up to 70% off the cost of a printed text with digital from BibliU", said Izzy.

That's great from a financial point of view for students, but what's inspiring to me is how Izzy sees the benefits of digital first hand. "With BibilU, I can leverage every digital textbook within my university book list at my fingertips without any additional cost. This allows me to dive deeper into a subject area I enjoy."

Luckily, the world of course materials is evolving, and many institutions are recognizing that the days of high-priced content are over. Sticking to an antiquated printed textbook model is not enough anymore, and as Izzy adds, "That old model is out of pace with the times."

So how do you solve the textbook dilemma? In my mind and Izzy's, it's simple; provide students a transparent view of the cost of course materials and bake it into their tuition so that they don't need to decide between food or their education.

Check out our video chat “Student Voice: Textbooks Should Never Be Something to Worry About” with Izzy Hayden and learn more from a student’s experience. Click here