Barnes and Noble awards Abington $15,000 grant for digital textbook access

Abington digital accèss grants

More than 100 Penn State Abington students with exceptional financial need will receive gift cards totaling $15,000 thanks to a Barnes & Noble College grant that will offset the cost of digital course materials.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — Barnes & Noble College, a Barnes & Noble Education company, has awarded Penn State Abington two grants totaling $16,000 to fund student purchases of digital courseware access and to support financial literacy education. The awards were made through an annual grant program funded by Barnes & Noble College that has provided a total of $1.155 million to University priorities since 2015. This year, the grant program distributed $118,000 across nine University initiatives from seven Penn State campuses, including Penn State Abington.

A Barnes & Noble College grant for $15,000 will allow more than 100 Pell-grant eligible students to offset the cost of digital course materials, a hurdle for undergraduates struggling with the cost of higher education. More than 40% of Abington students receive federal Pell grants, which are awarded to those with exceptional financial need. Eligible Abington students have applied for the gift cards based on their course requirements for digital textbook access. 

Christina Riehman-Murphy, the Open and Affordable Educational Resources librarian who co-authored the grant application, said the campus financial aid director and case manager alerted her to the difficulties posed by the growing popularity of digital access for required course materials. 

“Textbooks used to be in the library on reserve so students who couldn’t afford to purchase the texts could use them. With the newer digital access codes for course materials, students can pay hundreds of dollars for an access code that expires at the end of a semester,” she said. “There are often no rental options, so it’s a complex issue for our students. We are always looking for alternative ways to support our students, but it’s getting harder and harder.”

Kole Barclay, the Abington Student Government Association president, is grateful that the grant will support students experiencing financial distress. 

“Some students have to choose between buying access to textbooks and eating that day or week or paying their rent,” he said. 

Some students have to choose between buying access to textbooks and eating that day or week or paying their rent.

—Kole Barclay , president, Penn State Abington Student Government Association

Barnes & Noble awarded a second grant for $1,000 to support financial literacy education at Abington so students can establish a strong foundation that can lead to a lifetime of security. 

According to Carole Eiben, director of financial aid at Abington, the funds will be used to purchase “The Graduate’s Almanac: The Definitive Guide for Life After School,” which addresses topics including financial strategies. The book will be available along with financial wellness seminars for all students. 

“We host various sessions, including financial aid basics and a really popular event about taxes in collaboration with the University’s Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center,” she said. 

Abington is expanding its financial literacy programming this semester to include a paid peer financial ambassador who will present budgeting basics and other relevant concepts during the PSU1 seminar, a required course for all first-year students. 

Dave Lieb, Penn State’s senior associate vice president for development, applauded the University’s proven partnership with Barnes & Noble College.

“From providing support to students with financial need to encouraging critical thinking and more engaged learning, these initiatives will further extend the positive impact our colleges and campuses have on a Penn State student’s education,” he said.

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the Commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help us to serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, visit

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.