Inclusive Access or Equitable Access? Find the Best Fit Course Materials Program for Your Campus

May 04, 2023

Inclusive Access and Equitable Access are having transformative impacts on all types of campuses. Which one is the right match for your needs?

At Follett, we believe incredible higher ed experiences start with ensuring students have the right tools to succeed—that means having access to all required course materials, at an affordable price, on or before the first day of class.

Inclusive Access and Equitable Access programs are designed to address these needs — and the models are taking off at colleges and universities of all sizes. In fact, students in the 2021-2022 academic year spent less on course materials than at any point since 1998, even though they took more courses and acquired more materials. Plus, there’s more evidence than ever before that students who get access to digital course materials on day one of class see improved outcomes, with increases in academic performance, course completion, and degree attainment.  

For many academic leaders, the question isn’t IF they should find better methods to ensure access and drive down the cost of course materials (everyone wants students to be successful!). The question is: which model is best for your school’s unique needs? It’s important to understand how each model works to make sure you’re selecting the option that’s best for your goals and your community.  

First, let’s cover some basics: 

But there are slight differences between these models. Consider the following questions to find the right fit for your campus:

If you answered…. “AT THE COURSE LEVEL”:

Start with Inclusive Access (IA)! With IA, individual instructors adopt affordable, digital-first course materials to ensure students have day-one access within the campus LMS. Students get the materials at a lower cost, and enjoy the convenience of having quick access to materials. Students have the choice to opt out if they prefer not to pay for the digital course materials. 

Read a case study featuring Old Dominion and the University of Florida to learn how faculty advocacy drove IA programs that continued to evolve based on student need.

If you answered…. “FOR THE WHOLE CAMPUS”:

Choose Equitable Access (EA)! With EA, a campus offers students all course materials adopted by their instructors for one affordable fee, usually per credit per hour.  

Watch a short video to see how Dallas College implemented an EA program across 82,000+ credit students:

If you answered….“YES”:

Choose Equitable Access! EA is digital first, but not limited to one format. An EA program can also include print books, supplies, computers, and other physical materials.  

If you answered…..“WE’RE FLEXIBLE” 

Both Equitable Access and Inclusive Access are a fit! While EA models include all types of content, IA focuses on delivering digital materials. In both models, instructors maintain the freedom to choose the content that is right for their course. 

And remember—Follett partners with Willo Labs to make student access to digital materials seamless. With just a single campus connection, Willo centralizes all courseware within the campus LMS – automatically. Any digital materials. Any LMS. Any business model. No access codes necessary.  


Choose Inclusive Access! The course-by-course nature of the model makes it a great fit for pilots—and, you can start in disciplines where academic leaders are already on board. Then, evolve and grow the program by sharing wins across departments, and working your way toward an Equitable Access model to benefit all students. 

If you answered… “YES! WE’RE ALL IN”: 

Choose Equitable Access! Chancellor Diana Rodriguez, who led the implementation of an EA program at San Bernardino Community College District, encourages leaders with similar backing and support to “just go for it.” Watch a video about how three campuses, University of Houston, Xavier University, and San Bernardino Community College District launched programs that saw immediate impact on student savings and convenience.

These three questions outline the key differences between models, which helps in campus discussions, and allows you to consider what goals matter most to you and your students.

Curious about custom options? Talk to our team: