Education

Allan Hancock College launches ‘Zero Textbook Cost’ program

Janet Cruz-Reyes, president of the Associated Student Body Government at Allan Hancock College, spoke on Jan. 31, 2018, about how students, including herself, will benefit from the Zero Textbook Cost program.
Janet Cruz-Reyes, president of the Associated Student Body Government at Allan Hancock College, spoke on Jan. 31, 2018, about how students, including herself, will benefit from the Zero Textbook Cost program.

Students in three Allan Hancock Community College programs will not have to buy a single textbook to get their degrees.

The Santa Maria-based community college is launching a “Zero Textbook Cost” pilot program that will give students in three associate-for-transfer degree programs the opportunity to go their entire college career without buying a book. A $200,000 grant will help launch the program in fall 2018.

The three degrees are political science, liberal arts (math and science) and liberal arts (social and behavioral science).

According to a recent survey of Hancock students, almost two-thirds dropped or withdrew from a class because of the price of a required textbook; 61 percent spent at least $200 on textbooks each semester.

“The main benefit is cost reduction,” said project director Jessica Scarffe. “Hancock has a high percentage of first-generation college students and a high percentage of low-income students. Removing textbook costs makes college more accessible and supports the college’s student equity effort.”

Students can sign up for the courses when they register each semester; Zero Textbook Cost classes will just be labeled “ZTC.”

Any student enrolled in the school can take a ZTC class, but only those in the three transfer programs will be able to complete their entire degree program using only ZTC classes.

In its first three years, the program is expected to help 40,000 students, and will save them between $4 million and $8 million.

Zero Textbook Cost programs have popped up at community college campuses around California in recent years. The programs allow students to avoid traditional textbooks in favor of free instructional materials, called open educational resources.

The college has also purchased $40,000 in new textbooks for students to access in the college libraries; the purchase almost doubles the number of textbooks on reserve in the libraries, according to the release.

The books will be available to students to use for two hours at a time in the library at no charge.

“This is about accessibility,” Academic Dean Robert Curry said. “When you add the 50 textbooks donated every semester to the library by Follett, the company that runs the campus bookstore, our students should be able to get their hands on any required textbook.”

The textbook assistance comes two months after the college announced its Hancock Promise program, a five-year, $10 million endowment campaign that will provide free tuition and fees for Santa Maria Valley high school graduates starting next year.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

Ryan Nett, who graduated from Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo at just 17 years old, offers some advice to prospective students.

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