Cal State looks for ways to drive down cost of textbooks

Aug 4, 2014 by

It’s the middle of summer and while many other students are hanging out at the beach or preoccupied with jobs, Elizabeth Rodriguez is emailing instructors for information about the books she will need as a Cal State Dominguez Hills junior this fall.

Her method is to find the books early and cheaply through online sites such as Amazon and EBay rather than paying full price for texts that can cost upward of $300 at the school bookstore.

The strategy is much simpler for Cal State San Marcos senior Jeffrey “J.J.” Gutowski. He’s stopped buying books altogether, unless he is convinced he needs them to pass a course, and then he will share a classmate’s text or rent one online.

Steven Nguyen, center, registers for classes during student orientation at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The issue of rising prices for textbooks have been a main concern for students. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

Such pushbacks to the soaring costs of textbooks have not gone unnoticed by officials at California State University, which launched a new effort recently to offer more affordable options such as digital textbooks, rentals, buy-back programs and, most significantly, incentives for faculty to redesign courses to feature low-cost or no-cost alternatives to textbooks.

The 23-campus system is also leading a joint endeavor with the University of California and community colleges to develop an online library of free textbooks in 50 popular courses.

As colleges look to reduce the overall cost of education, many are centering efforts on course materials, which, according to Cal State officials, sets an average student back by more than $1,000 annually.

That’s an 18% addition to an undergraduate’s annual $5,472 tuition. According to the UC website, students pay about $1,500 for textbooks and supplies, adding about 11% to the $13,200 in overall tuition and fees. And at California community colleges, many students can pay more for textbooks than for course fees, officials said.

via Cal State looks for ways to drive down cost of textbooks – LA Times.

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