Penn State Abington Receives Grant from National Bookstore Chain for Purchase of Nonpaper-Based Books

digital textbook use
Image via Penn State Abington.

Penn State Abington has benefited from grants to bolster its digital textbook resources from a company for which support for non-print reading material may seem counterintuitive: Barnes & Nobel.

More specifically, however, the funding came from Barnes & Noble College, the retailer’s branch serving college bookstores across the nation.

The Barnes & Nobel initiative under which the funds were issued started in 1965 on one New York college campus. It now serves more than 1,400 college-to-kindergarten bookstores across the nation.

Two Grants

Barnes & Noble College awarded Penn State Abington two grants, totaling $16,000, to fund student purchases of digital courseware and to support financial literacy education.

Barnes & Noble College has provided a total of $1.155 million to Penn State University (PSU) priorities since 2015.

This year, the grant program distributed $118,000 across nine PSU initiatives at seven PSU campuses, including Abington.

Offsetting Digital Costs

A Barnes & Noble College grant for $15,000 will allow more than 100 Pell-grant eligible students to offset the cost of digital course materials, a hurdle for undergraduates struggling with the cost of higher education.

More than 40 percent of Abington students receive federal Pell grants, which are awarded to those who have exceptional financial need. Eligible Abington students have applied for the gift cards based on their course requirements for digital textbook access.

No Rental Option

Christina Riehman-Murphy, the Open and Affordable Educational Resources librarian who co-authored the grant application, said the campus financial aid director and case manager were instrumental in the effort. She raised the issue of the difficulties posed by the growing popularity of digital access for required course materials.

“Textbooks used to be in the library on reserve, so students who couldn’t afford to purchase the texts could use them. With the newer digital access codes for course materials, students can pay hundreds of dollars for an access code that expires at the end of a semester,” Riehman-Murphy said.

“There are often no rental options, so it’s a complex issue for our students.

“We are always looking for alternative ways to support our students, but it’s getting harder and harder.”

Difficult Budgetary Choices

Kole Barclay, the Abington Student Government Association president, is grateful that the grant will support students experiencing financial distress.

“Some students have to choose between buying access to textbooks and eating that day (or week) — or paying their rent,” he said.

Financial Literacy Education

Barnes & Noble awarded a second grant for $1,000 to support financial literacy education at Abington so students can establish a strong foundation that can lead to a lifetime of security.

According to Carole Eiben, director of financial aid at Abington, the funds will be used to purchase The Graduate’s Almanac: The Definitive Guide for Life After School, which addresses topics post-graduate lifestyle topics that include financial strategies.

The book will be available, along with financial wellness seminars, for all students.

“We host various sessions, including financial aid basics and a really popular event about taxes in collaboration with the university’s Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center,” Eiben said.

Abington is expanding its financial literacy programming this semester to include a paid peer financial ambassador who will present budgeting basics and other relevant concepts during the PSU1 seminar, a required course for all first-year students.

Extending Positive Impact

Dave Lieb, PSU SVP for development, applauded the university’s proven partnership with Barnes & Noble College.

“From providing support to students with financial need to encouraging critical thinking and more engaged learning, these initiatives will further extend the positive impact our colleges and campuses have on a Penn State student’s education,” he said.

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016–2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the PSU tradition of education, research, and service to communities across Pa. and around the globe.

Scholarships enable the PSU institution to:

  • Open doors and welcome students from every background
  • Support transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership
  • Bolster initiatives of discovery and excellence to help PSU serve and impact the world it shares

More about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support at Penn State in Abington and across the rest of Penn State University is at its website.

Stay Connected, Stay Informed

Subscribe for great stories in your community!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.