Faculty At Area Community College Aim To Reduce Textbook Costs For Students

Jul 17, 2017

A northern Illinois community college is taking steps to make textbooks more affordable for students.

Credit Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

McHenry County College said the school could save the student body an estimated $400,000 on textbooks per school year.

This follows a week-long Textbook Cost Reduction Camp held for faculty members in all areas of study.

The camp set out to educate faculty members on textbook alternatives and prepare them to introduce new technology into the classroom.

The faculty-led initiative analyzed 13 courses to find high-quality resources for students at a lower cost.

Julie Freelove, co-chair of the textbook ad hoc committee, said students often wait to buy textbooks until late in the semester or do not purchase them at all due to high costs. According to Freelove, this creates a barrier in student performance.

“You just really want to be able to help students pursue their educational dreams and if we can help to reduce the textbook costs, that just allows them to complete their courses,” she said.

Freelove said that reducing textbook costs can help expedite students’ tracks to a four-year university or immediate employment.

“Sometimes it’s prohibitive to them even completing their certificate or completing their degree in a timely manner,” she said, “because the cost of textbooks has just gotten so high that sometimes students can’t even afford to purchase them.”

Freelove said faculty members don’t necessarily need to find zero cost alternatives, but they should be conscious of their textbook costs and find ways to lower them.

Freelove said textbook rentals, custom books and downloadable materials are options for educators.

But a lot more goes into the decision than just finding a source. Freelove said materials should be available across multiple mediums and must be accessible for students with disabilities.