A lecture at California Hall
(Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Equity and Access

UC Davis Stores Distributes Thousands of Textbook Grants to Low-Income Students

Picture this: You just arrived at UC Davis as an undergraduate student, the first in your family to attend college. You’re at the campus bookstore with $100 in your pocket, which your mom saved up to help you pay for your textbooks. You look through the titles for your Aerospace Engineering major and realize you can’t even afford a single book. You decide to switch to a major with cheaper textbooks.

The UC Davis student behind this true story inspired UC Davis Stores to spend two years developing Equitable Access, the flat-rate, digital-first textbook subscription program that is dramatically increasing textbook affordability and redefining the textbook industry.

No student ever should have to make that choice. You should be able to follow your dreams.

—Aaron Ochoa, Director of Academic Resources for UC Davis Stores

Access to textbooks is an equity issue. It directly affects student success and time to completion; those who can least afford it spend more time and effort to graduate. Equitable Access ensures that all undergraduate students pay the same low rate for their textbooks, regardless of major. But beyond that, UC Davis Stores is helping even more students access their textbooks by providing thousands of needs-based grants each year.

As a non-profit department within the Division of Student Affairs, UC Davis Stores directs surplus funds back into the Equitable Access program in two ways: by lowering the price of the program and/or awarding full textbook grants to the lowest-income UC Davis students selected by Financial Aid. In 2021-22, UC Davis Stores lowered the quarterly rate of Equitable Access from $199 to $169 and awarded 3,000 grants totaling $507,000. Feedback from the Equitable Access Student Advisory Council showed support for continuing to use surplus funds for textbook grants for low-income students. In the 2022-23 academic year, UC Davis Stores provided over 4,000 grants totaling $700,000 to students in need. In the upcoming 2023-24 academic year, UC Davis Stores will be providing 7,500 grants totaling $1,267,500 to students in need.

Graduation cap at UC Davis Commencement
(Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

With the help of the Equitable Access grant, I no longer had to worry about whether or not I had enough to cover the cost of my textbooks for my courses, and Equitable Access made accessing my materials extremely easy and efficient.

Equitable Access grant recipient, Applied Mathematics ’23

Promoting student success is at the core of the UC Davis Stores mission. As a true auxiliary department, UC Davis Stores receives no student fees to cover its operating costs and gives back by contributing approximately $1M annually to support campus programs and Student Affairs.

The financial model for Equitable Access is like the UC Davis Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP), where all participating students pay the same rate for coverage, regardless of individual medical needs and costs. Unitrans uses a similar model, whereby all students pay the same fee, no matter how many times each student rides the bus. With Equitable Access, all students pay the same rate, regardless of individual textbook costs. Surplus funds from students whose textbooks cost less than $169 are used to cover students whose textbooks exceed $169. In this way, every student who participates in Equitable Access helps create equity and ensure textbook access for all undergraduate students.  

For more information on how Equitable Access was developed, how it works and how UC Davis Stores continues to serve students in need, visit the Equitable Access website.

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