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Removing barriers to degree completion through affordability efforts

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Mar 12, 2021

What was already a highly affordable education at College of Lake County (CLC) now includes additional savings for students thanks to the implementation of an Inclusive Access (IA) program as a result of a policy revision carried out by the Board of Trustees.

SUM16-STUDENT-MARINO_Estafani-Nursing-SLC2-6644Inclusive Access reduces the total cost of earning a college credential through savings on textbooks or other course materials. When students are assigned textbooks or other course materials for a class, they are an additional cost on top of paying tuition and fees. The cost for materials can be significant for students, leading some to purchase outdated materials at a lesser cost, delay their purchase or try to get by without them at all. IA is a solution to address this financial barrier for students so they can successfully engage in their learning and complete their course.

The IA program allows the college to purchase materials in a larger quantity, reducing costs for students while allowing them to pay for materials as part of their tuition payment plans and guarantees all students have access to the same course materials on the first day of class.

“There are other community colleges doing this and the savings are significant,” said CLC Board Chair Dr. William M. Griffin. “This is not only a great opportunity to offer reduced cost to our students but ensures access to materials on day one, which also benefits our faculty.”

“It’s an affordability initiative, it’s a student equity in access and success initiative and it’s a retention initiative. There’s a lot of things the college is doing overall for affordability,” said CLC Vice President of Business Services and Finance Ken Gotsch. “The bookstore also has custom publications that allow students the ability to only pay for the portion of a book that is used, textbook rental, open education resources, so ‘inclusive access’ is just one more tool in the toolkit, with cost savings that are significant. Savings can be anywhere from 45 to 60 percent off of the suggested retail price, or the national title price, so it is a direct support for students.”

In the meantime, Gotsch notes the college will continue with other cost-cutting efforts related to course materials which in fall 2020 saved the student body more than $730,000.

IA adds to the college’s portfolio of holistic student supports and affordability efforts to reduce time and cost to credential completion, including freezing tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year. Other efforts to achieve these outcomes include curriculum mapping so students have a clear path; textbook, laptop and hotspot loan programs; growing scholarship resources to further reduce tuition costs; basic needs resources such as the SHARE market and Lancer Emergency Assistance Fund; free access to mental health and legal services; and policy changes to remove financial barriers.

About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.