Undergraduate students at University of the Cumberlands main campus have something besides the new year to celebrate: this is the last time they will have to pay for their textbooks.

Beginning in fall 2020, all undergraduates taking classes at the main campus in Williamsburg will have the option to participate in a free textbook loan program. Students who opt into the program will receive books free of charge as long as those books are returned in good condition at the end of the semester. The loan program will include books for all fields of study. Students have the option to purchase any books they would like to keep.

The new program was initially announced in September 2019. In that release, Dr. Larry Cockrum, President of the University, said it was another step toward “total price transparency and affordability” at Cumberlands. The initiative is part of the Cumberlands Commitment, which began in fall 2019 with a 57-percent reduction in tuition cost for all  main campus undergraduate students.

Dr. Cockrum sees the new textbook loan program as “an additional way for Cumberlands to serve students and remove barriers to obtaining a college degree.”

The students seem to agree.

“Knowing that my books will be covered is a relief,” said Jenna Rose, a sophomore at Cumberlands studying communication arts. “It will help me pay for other necessities related to my education, so I’m grateful. I’m thankful that the school would make the effort to make my educational experience even better.”

Samuel Golden, a junior studying chemistry, said, “It’s nice that this is the last time I’ll have to pay for books in undergrad! I’m excited that I won’t have to worry about that anymore. I’ll be able to focus more energy on starting the semester strongly.”

Praise OlaOlorun, a sophomore originally from Nigeria, remarked, “It’s an awesome feeling knowing that I won’t have to worry about the expensive costs of books next year. Personally, the textbook loan program serves as an extra motivator for me to work hard on my studies.”

The majority of Cumberlands students are from working-class families, and many are first-generation college students who see education as a changing force for their families. The leadership at Cumberlands is hopeful that this textbook loan program, combined with the 57-percent tuition reduction, will help ease the burden these families face when making decisions about pursuing a college education.

Though students may opt into the textbook loan program through Cumberlands’ bookstore, any who would prefer to purchase textbooks from other vendors are still free to do so. The new program does not apply to students enrolled in online or graduate degree programs as the tuition price for those programs is structured to take additional education costs, like books, into consideration.