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New programs cut book costs for Valley students

OER and ZTC grants save Valley students nearly $1 million dollars.

By Jessica Ava Lange, Online Editor

Due to the constant increase in textbook costs, the Valley College Academic Senate passed the Open Educational Resources initiative in order to cut down on the expense of books, with a $1 million in student saving thus far.

The OER and Zero Textbook Cost grants offer Valley College students textbooks for their classes at reduced or zero costs.  The OER requires a 30 percent reduction cost in at least 50 courses common to the California higher educational systems at Valley.  The latest grant, ZTC, offers degrees and certificates with either low textbook costs or zero costs.  Students may find a list of ZTC or low cost textbook classes by refining the class type icon within the schedule search.

“This is a massive movement that barely passed the senate in 2017, but it passed because students came to the meeting,” said Josh Miller, Academic Senate president and chairman of the communications department.

Savings are available for students attending California community colleges and the California state university. One of the ways the programs work is through teachers offering students free and open etextbooks to download.

“I thought online textbooks were interesting because it still gives a lesson plan of where you can find everything,” said nutrition major Brian Jimenez. “It was good to use because it was very interactive and similar to a mini slideshow.”

In addition, some schools have made other inroads to reducing textbooks costs.  Cal Poly students, alongside Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, submitted a bill that passed into law which requires publishers to tell students the differences between editions in an effort to lower textbook costs.

Because of the increase in textbooks, “71 percent of students ask their parents for money, 41 percent skip meals and 31 percent take fewer classes to afford their reading material,” according to a new survey by Morning Consult for Cengage, an online textbook company.

The bill intends to lower the amount California college students spend on textbooks.  Textbook publishers need to release a detailed description on their website how the newest edition differs from the previous edition. Students have the opportunity to determine if they need the new book or save money by purchasing an older, less expensive version of the book.

The bill encourages faculty to consider teaching selected textbooks that will result in the lowest costs to students.  Cunningham partnered with a class of about 20 Cal Poly Bill Project students.  The students wrote the bill in class and asked Cunningham to work with them on legislation to lower the cost of books.  Several students traveled to Sacramento to lobby the bill.

“The experience is a fine example of how even a small group can make a difference and it absolutely represents Cal Poly’s learn by doing ethos,” said Cunningham.  “College students throughout the state have these Cal Poly students to thank for this important measure.”


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