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Santa Monica College to Increase Use of Free Textbooks Through OpenStax


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By Lookout Staff

June 20, 2018 -- Low income students at Santa Monica College (SMC) may afford the inexpensive in-state tuition, but another expense often stands in the way of obtaining a degree.

Each year traditional textbooks can average between $600 and $1,400 per student, making it difficult for some to attend college and continue and complete coursework, school officials said.

Students will get a break this year after SMC was one of nine schools chosen to participate in the 2018-2019 OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program, which encourages the use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks on campus.

OpenStax textbooks
OpenStax textbooks (Photo by Jemel Agulto)

A total of 31 school applied for the program launched by Rice University, which is supported by such philanthropies as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Michelson 20MM Foundation and Google Inc.

"While the cost of tuition at community colleges may not be a deterrent, the cost of textbooks can definitely be an obstacle for those struggling financially," said SMC Superintendent/President
Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery.

"We are thrilled that OpenStax has provided us with an avenue to ensure that we are providing the greatest possible access to learning materials -- thereby increasing the likelihood of success for our diverse student body.”

Schools chosen to participate in the program during the 2016-2017 school year saw a 150 percent increase in student use of OER in the following year, saving an additional 50,000 students $4.9 million, SMC officials said.

Open educational resources "eliminate cost barriers for students and allow unrestricted, immediate access to learning materials, increasing the likelihood that students will complete their courses successfully," officials said.

Nicole Finkbeiner, associate director of institutional relations at OpenStax at Rice University, will help selected institutions develop strategic plans to encourage the use of OER on their campuses.

“SMC’s application stood out due to the dedication and passionate support from all areas of the college for the OER initiative,” Finkbeiner said.

For more information on Santa Monica College’s open educational resource initiative, visit A complete list of OpenStax’s 2018-2019 institutional partners is available on their website


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