Tackling the price of textbooks

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

More colleges are working to lower the cost of textbooks for students.

Last year, less than half of Onondaga Community College’s students were able to buy their textbooks. For a full-time student, the cost of textbooks was, on average, $615 a semester. Now, the New York college and Barnes & Noble College (BNC), the operator of OCC’s campus bookstore, are cutting costs with the Box of Books program. It will provide students with flat-rate, predictable pricing for textbooks. Students also have access to an affordable Chromebook to “level the playing field,” according to an OCC press release.

Beginning with the fall 2019 semester, students will have access to all their required course material for a flat rate based on their registered credit hours. Students taking five courses, or 15 credit hours, will save an average of nearly $300 per semester. Printed textbooks, eBooks and access codes to interactive materials are all included in the package.

“Students regularly tell us their OCC education is a tremendous value, but the added cost of textbooks, the online access codes, and a computer is standing in their way,” OCC President Casey Crabill said. “This partnership is the first-of-its-kind program with a public institution and a first step towards addressing a nationwide barrier to college completion and student success.”

“I know first-hand the difficult financial decisions I and fellow students are forced to make on a daily basis. Each of us has to consider whether to spend the money we have on our next meal, transportation to campus, school supplies or other necessities. As the student trustee on OCC’s board of trustees, I am proud to have played a critical role in bringing this program here and helping the students who will follow me in the years to come. This is like Christmas for college kids,” said Allison Guzman-Martinez, OCC student trustee.

Onondaga Community College is the first public college in the nation to join the Barnes and Noble program.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) in March announced it received $163,000 in grant funding from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education for OER projects. The funding is made up of six institutional grants, one small group grant, and two travel fund grants.

Grantees will expand OER usage at their institutions. Community College of Denver, for example, will develop open educational resources for four new classes, and Front Range Community College will adopt OER use in English composition courses.

“The growing use of OER for both online and face-to-face learning improves our ability to reduce one of the greatest financial barriers to higher education,” CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia said.

How is your college saving students money on textbooks? Sound off at LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.

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