Textbook Grants and Scholarships: Financial Assistance for Online Colleges

textbooks, grants, scholarships

Textbook grants and scholarships are an excellent way to find financial assistance during your online college journey. Did you know that the rate at which textbook prices increase is faster than the rate of inflation? Yes. It’s true! According to the Education Data Initiative, textbook prices double every 11 years.

With a compounded annual growth of 6%, more and more students are having a harder time buying textbooks. According to EDI, 25% of students worked more hours to cover the cost of their books and materials, and 11% went without meals to be able to afford them. The financial burden is only getting worse.

Publishers continuously produce new, more expensive versions. While there are cheaper textbooks online, such as digital textbooks and e-books, many students still find the cost overwhelming.

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Textbook grants and textbook scholarships are invaluable resources today. They can significantly ease the burden on students struggling to afford their course materials.

Why Textbook Costs Matter

While textbooks are important, the number of students purchasing them is dropping. The Student Monitor’s 2020 data shows a 7% decline in student spending on course materials. The average student spent $199 on textbooks in the Fall of 2019 but only $186 in the Fall of 2020.

This decline is attributed to the emergence of digital materials and increased investment in technology. More students are renting or accessing free materials online, contributing to this shift. However, textbook prices continue to climb despite these alternatives, surpassing inflation rates.

The reasons for these high costs are varied.

  1. Publishers often mandate full-price purchases for e-books and incorporate materials into tuition fees via “inclusive access models.”
  2. Faculty preferences for printed materials and practices such as vanity publishing inflate prices further.

These steep expenses have serious repercussions for students. Many opt out of purchasing textbooks altogether. Some even report reducing their course load or dropping classes due to financial constraints.

Fortunately, online college financial aid programs are designed to help students pay for their college education. Textbook assistance programs play an important role in making learning materials more accessible. These opportunities offer significant benefits; they

  • lower the cost of education
  • improve students’ quality of life
  • enhance students’ academic performance and success

This also benefits the institution. It helps them achieve higher retention and graduation rates, ultimately strengthening their overall educational outcomes.

However, there’s one problem. Seeking financial help for textbooks is often difficult to find. They’re hard to come by, and those that are easy to locate can be very competitive.

Types of Textbook Financial Assistance

Financial assistance for textbooks comes in many forms. They include:


Textbook grants, or online education grants, provide students with cash to help cover the cost of textbooks. They can either be need-based or merit-based. You can find these opportunities mostly in your university.


Online college scholarships may be awarded based on financial need, academic achievement, or other criteria the scholarship provider sets. Unlike student textbook grants, scholarships may have various eligibility requirements. They are also easier to find than grants.

Institutional Assistance Programs

These programs can provide different types of help. They might give students money directly, let them borrow books, or give them access to textbooks at lower prices or for free. Usually, these programs work with publishers or websites to make this possible.

Vouchers or Credits

Some colleges and universities offer book vouchers or credits. These are typically distributed as part of a student’s financial aid package and can be redeemed for textbooks and course materials at campus bookstores or online retailers.

All these opportunities aim to provide students with an affordable online education.

How to Find Textbook Grants and Scholarships

Financial aid specifically designed to reduce textbook costs is hard to come by. It’s not as common as tuition scholarships for online students, so finding it will take more than a simple Internet search.

Ask the institution.

Colleges and universities will have designated professionals who will introduce you to institutional-based financial aid for online learners. These professionals can guide you to potential resources for textbook grants and scholarships. They can also help you figure out how to apply and if you qualify for any aid.

Search for External Scholarships.

Hundreds of online databases and search engines can help you with your search. It can be overwhelming, and not all sites will be trusted. Through our intensive research and evaluation, we’ve found the following websites to be trustworthy and helpful in finding textbook scholarships:

  • Appily
    • Formerly known as Cappex, it helps students find scholarships and schools based on personal profiles. It features a comprehensive database and personalized matching.
  • BigFuture
    • Created by the College Board, offering access to thousands of scholarships worth over a billion dollars annually. Allows students to create profiles and get matched with relevant scholarships.
  • Fastweb
    • Provides a large database of scholarships worth billions, along with college planning resources. Considered comprehensive but may inundate users with emails.
  • Going Merry
    • Simplifies scholarship applications with a user-friendly platform, offering free sign-up and potential winnings of up to $40,000. Recommended by counselors for its time-efficient approach.
  • Niche
    • Matches students with scholarships and provides school reviews, offering essay-free scholarships. Helps students gain insight into a school’s “personality.”
  • Scholarships.com
    • Helps students discover, organize, and apply for scholarships, prioritizing legitimacy and ease of use. Vets each scholarship to ensure safety and legitimacy.
  • Scholarships360
    • It offers a free database of thousands of scholarships, which are easy to apply for and filter by grade and demographic. All scholarships are now “ungated,” allowing direct access without sign-up.
  • Scholly
    • A free app featured on “Shark Tank” aims to help students find unclaimed scholarship money.
    • Identifies scholarships based on academic profile and demographics owned by Sallie Mae.

Check with local organizations.

These are also great sources for locating textbook cost assistance. These scholarships tend to be less competitive than national ones. They’re tailored to specific demographics or academic interests.

Check with your employer.

Companies might help their workers with school costs, including textbooks. Some have programs that pay for textbooks and course materials. Also, they might offer scholarships or other educational perks as part of the job benefits.

Utilize school counselors or advisors.

These professionals help you with your search for textbook assistance. They can help you connect you with institutional and external funding opportunities. Don’t hesitate; their services are often free or part of your tuition and fee package.

Reach out to professional associations and organizations.

These are also great sources of financial assistance. These groups often have scholarships or resources to help students cover textbook costs. Reach out to organizations within your field to see what assistance they offer and how you can apply.

If you cannot find financial assistance specifically designated for textbooks, you can still explore scholarships intended for tuition. Many of these scholarships offer flexibility. This means that even if the scholarship isn’t explicitly for textbooks, you can still allocate a portion of the reward to cover your textbook expenses.

Applying for Textbook Grants and Scholarships

Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide on how to apply for scholarships and grants for online courses:

Step 1: You need to find scholarships. You can search online using terms like ‘book scholarships’ or check with your college’s financial aid office.

Step 2: Meet the requirements. This could include things like having a certain GPA or being enrolled full-time.

Step 3: Get all your documents together. This might include things like transcripts and references.

Step 4: Write your application essay. Be yourself, explain why you need the scholarship, and discuss how you’ll use the money.

Step 5: Complete everything correctly and submit your application before the deadline. Double-check everything to ensure it’s correct.

With hundreds of applicants for a single program, you can expect stiff competition.

Here are a few helpful tips when applying for textbook aid programs:

  1. Apply early. Time is of the essence when it comes to grants and scholarship applications. Book scholarships are frequently given out on a first-come, first-served basis and have limited funding. You need to dedicate time to research available scholarships and grant opportunities thoroughly.
  2. Make sure you’re eligible. Every scholarship holds its own criteria. Review them well before diving in. This ensures your efforts are rightly placed.
  3. Stand out. How do you stand out? You need to craft a compelling essay or personal statement. These documents give you the chance to distinguish yourself. Always note academic accomplishments, goals, strengths, and experiences. Put in extra effort and check your grammar, word count, and narrative.

When applying for scholarships and grants, you should always use your institution’s education resources aid programs. For instance, many institutions offer workshops or counseling sessions to help students navigate the scholarship and grant application process. These resources provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to your specific needs.


The cost of textbooks will still rapidly increase; there’s no slowing it down. What you can do now is to exhaust all gift aid programs, such as grants, scholarships, and vouchers. These can help lower the amount of money you spend from your own pocket.

With many students needing monetary assistance, the competition will be tough. Apply to as many programs as possible and do your best to increase your chances of securing a scholarship and grant.