retention rates

Rafter360 targets improved student success

Rafter360 course materials solution aims to contribute to improved student outcomes, college access

Rafter, Inc., a course materials management company, announced today that several new universities and colleges have adopted Rafter360, the company’s all-inclusive solution that provides 100 percent of course materials to all students at a substantially lower cost on the student bill.

Some of the new schools include Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo.; Avila University in Kansas City, Mo.; Bluefield College in Bluefield, Va.; Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, Colo.; Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga.; and Central Christian College of Kansas in McPherson, Kan.

“We found that students were not purchasing their textbooks and were coming to class unprepared, putting them at risk for lower grades and attrition,” said Cathryn Pridal, VP of Academic Affairs at Avila University. “I partnered closely with the VP of Finance, Paul Toler, to assess marketplace options, and we ultimately selected Rafter360 because of its proven results. We want our students to be prepared and ready to learn on the first day of class. Rafter360 guarantees they will, setting them up for success.”

Rafter360 is the first all-inclusive course materials solution enabling colleges and universities to provide all of their students with 100 percent of their required educational content by the first day of class. The program includes access to traditional print materials, e-books, open educational resources, online learning applications, access codes for courseware, custom editions, and much more.

Students pay a low, predictable access fee that is included in the student bill, providing substantial savings, which improves college affordability for all students. Rafter360 also provides faculty and administrators with a one-of-a-kind audit and benchmarking service that offers transparency into the true cost of course materials at their institution. Schools are able to maintain academic freedom for their faculty, as well as ensure all students are prepared to learn on day one, while promoting better student outcomes.

“With our high population of first-generation, low-income students, we found that students were not purchasing their textbooks due to cost, causing them to quickly fall behind in class,” said David Olive, President at Bluefield College and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Appalachian College Association. “Rafter’s transparent data enabled us to successfully lower the final cost of students’ course materials, allowing us to meet our goal of making textbooks and other educational content more affordable for students. This fall, students will be ready on day one, and by integrating the cost of materials into tuition, it can be covered by financial aid and other school-provided assistance, which is a huge help to our students.”

Using Rafter360, universities have achieved measurable results. Since implementing Rafter360 in Fall 2013 along with other high-impact practices as part of its Schreiner Experience, Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas set a historic record for enrollment. Additionally, the first-time, full-time freshmen retention rate increased 3 percent for the Fall 2014 cohort.

At Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky. total enrollment is up 14 percent and the college’s total headcount has increased 20 percent. Validating its improvements, Thomas More was also ranked the No. 1 college in Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati for return on investment in a 2015 PayScale report. Finally, Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, N.C. reported the highest Fall-to-Spring retention rates in over five years for freshmen and its total traditional student population since implementing Rafter360, all while enrollment has grown by over 20 percent from five years ago.

“The skyrocketing cost of textbooks adds to the already high cost of college and can put students and parents at a disadvantage financially and academically from the beginning, especially for first-generation and low-income students,” said Sara Leoni, CEO at Rafter. “We’re thrilled that our partners are seeing such incredibly positive results with Rafter360, especially after hearing from them the disappointment and frustration they experienced when trying other textbook models and finding that they didn’t move the needle. We’re looking forward to helping these schools put college affordability within reach for more students, which certainly leads to improved student outcomes.”

More information about Rafter360 can be found at

Laura Ascione