Students save $850K on books

Students save $850K on booksCerro Coso Community College faculty recently implemented a strategy that eventually saved students some $850,000 on textbooks.

Through the adoption of Open Education Resources, students have access to textbooks on the first day of class without waiting for financial aid or textbooks to arrive. The service comes with access to video resources, software, labs, and an enhanced textbook experience with hyperlinks to many other resources.

According to a spokesperson, a survey of CCCC students revealed that 40 percent of participating students had dropped a course because they couldn’t afford the textbook.

Some35 percent of students were unable to afford all the textbooks they needed within the first three weeks of classes. Another 52 percent of students borrowed textbooks because they couldn’t afford the textbook. Some 42 percent of students have avoided enrolling as a full-time student because of the cost of textbooks.

About 65 percent of students said that financial aid never or rarely arrives on time to purchase the required textbooks for the first day of classes.

“There are many reasons why college students do not buy recommended and required textbooks, but fundamentally the biggest reason is they cannot afford them,” said Heather Ostash, vice president of student services. “It is very important that students have access to these OER textbook alternatives.”

“I had to drop a class this semester because the cost of a book was $200 and I could not afford that as a single mother,” wrote one student. “I had already paid over $200 for the two classes I had.”

Another student said, “After paying rent, utilities, groceries, car insurance, there isn’t enough money to buy all my books at the start of class.”

According to Librarian Sharlene Paxton, the college reduced textbook costs for students by almost $175,000 in the first round of funding. The second round of funding saved students more than $680,000.

“We have now saved students at least $856,970 in textbook costs as a result of OER adoptions from fall 2016 to spring 2020,” she said.

“This is great news. But we’re not done yet! We have a goal to further increase adoptions in additional courses and save students even more money.” The ultimate goal is a Z-degree, “which means the ability for a student to complete a degree with zero textbook costs,” continued Paxton.

By providing access to course materials at zero-cost, students have a better chance of reaching course completion and increased rate of success, she said.

“Our small college has made some big changes that have had an immensely positive impact on our students’ lives and college success, and we look forward to continuing our work in this important component of student equity and student success.”

Story First Published: 2020-10-09