EKU puts students first during unprecedented times

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Even during these unprecedented times, the mission of Eastern Kentucky University as the School of Opportunity for students remains strong. Building upon this mission, we’re marking an exciting new chapter to support college affordability and student success. 

At EKU, we serve a large percentage of low-income and first-generation students. We also serve students from families who can make ends meet but still struggle to figure out how all the pieces of the college financing puzzle fit into their budgets. Students take different paths to pay for college – more than 80 percent benefit from many types of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans, and most students work to pay their own way. No matter where those funds come from, investing in their education, career, and future will change their lives, their families, and our communities. 

 The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear to us, and more than ever before: college dreams cannot be put on hold. Our communities need EKU graduates to be the next generation of community leaders, healthcare professionals, first responders, educators, and entrepreneurs. To reach these goals, students need all the tools and support available to help them to succeed. Although other colleges will have different approaches, here are a few examples of what EKU is doing to help students during very difficult times. 

 With health and well-being at the forefront, the University intends to offer a full complement of in-person classes this fall. EKU is greeting students with an affordable tuition rate and a wealth of scholarship opportunities. However, additional expenses stand in the way for many students. When it comes time for classes to start, students need textbooks and course materials in order to succeed in their courses. Buying books shouldn’t be a barrier to success.

 We are very excited to introduce the EKU BookSmart program to our students for the Fall of 2021, made possible through our long-standing partnership with Barnes & Noble. EKU BookSmart provides the required class textbooks and course materials for EKU undergraduate students enrolled in all of our campuses and online – for free. Yes, for free!  Undergraduate students won’t have to choose between buying their textbooks or paying for essential needs like food, housing, or transportation. They won’t have to consider the cost of a textbook in their decision to take a certain course. Nor will any student have to drop a class because they can’t afford the book. 

Representing an estimated savings of $1,200 per year, EKU BookSmart lowers the overall cost of attendance for students. We’re investing in our students so they will be prepared to succeed when their classes begin. 

All undergraduate students are automatically enrolled in EKU BookSmart once they have registered for Fall 2021 classes. The required books and materials will be gathered, packaged, and shipped directly to students in a Big E Box, or will be ready for pickup at our Barnes & Noble EKU Bookstore. On day one of classes, students will have what they need, and faculty can begin instruction knowing their students are prepared to succeed. 

This innovative program, unique to EKU, is another way we are keeping college affordable. EKU BookSmart is part of the EKU Advantage – a series of initiatives and incentives designed to keep higher education attainable for all those who seek it. In addition to free textbooks, the EKU Advantage includes waived application fees and standardized test score requirements; new undergraduate scholarships based on high school GPA; and expanded online course offerings. Any time we can assist students is an exciting time for EKU. 

EKU BookSmart and the EKU Advantage reflect our investment in our students’ dreams, our commitment to the state and region, and our mission as the School of Opportunity. You can find plenty of information on all of the opportunities at EKU, including the BookSmart program, at eku.edu.

Tanlee Wasson is the Vice President of Student Success at Eastern Kentucky University.

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