Skip to main content

UM continues battle against student debt; approves major partnership to lower textbook prices

Long Title
UM continues battle against student debt; approves major partnership to lower textbook prices


Christian Basi

ST. LOUIS, Mo. –Today, the UM Board of Curators approved a major partnership with Cengage, one of the largest textbook publishers in the United States, that will save individual students hundreds of dollars when purchasing textbooks for their classes in 2019.

“We’re fully engaged in battling the problem of student debt,” UM System President Mun Choi said. “This year, many of our students were able to go to college and pay less than they did last year, and we continue to look for cost savings. This new partnership with Cengage will help us continue to find ways to lower the cost of a high-quality college education.”

By partnering with Cengage, students across the UM System will have unlimited access to more than 22,000 digital course materials through Cengage’s subscription service, Cengage Unlimited. These will include eBooks, online homework access codes and study guides, all for approximately $50 each semester as opposed to costs that can exceed $300 for a single textbook. Officials estimate that approximately 40,000 UM students are taking courses that use materials published by Cengage. More than 70 subjects across the four universities will be impacted.

This means that a student taking one or more courses that use Cengage materials will pay only $50 for the semester, regardless of the number of courses they are taking. This could potentially save students hundreds of dollars in textbook costs each year.

“Paying for course materials is a top financial stressor for students, and we applaud the UM System for making these affordable resources available,” said Fernando Bleichmar, chief product officer at Cengage. “With Cengage Unlimited, faculty have another option to make a real impact on lowering student costs using our high-quality course materials. This agreement ensures students will have what they need on day one to be successful in class – without significant expense and stress to find course materials.”

This fall, a pilot class is underway at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where 100 marketing students are utilizing Cengage textbooks. 

“This is a new and innovative contract with Cengage that we anticipate will save our students a total of $3 million each year,” said Steve Graham, senior associate vice president for academic affairs. “We expect to implement the new agreement this coming spring, so students will see an immediate impact.” 

This follows another major partnership announced earlier this summer providing students with lower-cost online textbooks, and a Systemwide initiative announced in June 2017 that encouraged faculty to create and utilize free online educational resources whenever possible.


Reviewed 2018-11-16