The price is right: $40 textbooks

photo by Jonathan Sanchez

Story by Merari Calderon Ruiz

The price of college textbooks has increased over 1000 percent since 1977, according to NBC news.

In July of 2015, Oregon House Bill 2871 was passed which states that each public university listed in ORS 252.002, including community colleges, would need to make a public note, at the time of registration, which courses have low-cost textbooks and materials.

Each school determines what counts as a low-cost course, or textbook; Clackamas Community College decided that $40 was the appropriate cutoff. Courses in the catalog were officially labeled “LCT” this winter term and will continue going forward.

Finalizing this process took time. There was a work group on campus that, together, helped figure out how to communicate the low-cost courses to the school. This included the LCT committee, Jil Freeman, Jane Littlefield, Dru Urbassik, Miranda Butler, DW Wood, Stephen Brouwers and Carol DeSau, Kevin Anspach, who designed the informational material, and CCC staff.

Littlefield, the department chair library, stated in an email, “A good number of CCC faculty have already shifted to using low-cost and free textbooks and course materials for years; we’ve just not had a way to highlight those classes in our course schedules. Now we can. And we are to the stage of educating students, faculty and staff about Low-Cost Text material, and we hope to see the number of LCT courses only increase as a result.”

Some students are able to alleviate the burden of textbook costs by applying for FAFSA and scholarships.

Austin Modrell, who works in ASG, said that classes that students take depend on the degree they are pursuing.

“I’m doing a transfer degree, so a lot of my stuff is just general, so I’ll take any classes that seem interesting to me.” Modrell said. “If a class is so much cheaper and its intriguing to me, I’d pay attention to it, but would I change my entire perceptive on what class I’m taking just because the textbook is cheaper? Probably not.”

Freeman, who works in the distance learning department, said that their goal is to encourage faculty to consider textbook cost more, and for students to bring it up.

There are inclusions and exclusions to the low-cost course material. On page 29 of the winter class schedule, there is a list available as well as a disclaimer, although it is subject to change if the college receives new information.

“It’s a movement that’s happening across the nation,” Freeman said. “Student can Google OER, and Creative Commons

is a resource that has a lot of information about open low- cost materials. Students on other campuses have driven this movement; they’ve asked for lower cost materials in classes.”

Not every class has the option of low-cost material, but the college’s goal, for now, is to increase awareness on cam pus and to create an incentive for students to speak to their instructors.

Some students go to the Lending Library or Amazon as an alternative place to buy books. If students still have questions, the bookstore can help

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Merari Calderon Ruiz