Six pilot projects seek ways to reduce textbook costs for students

Posted: April 26, 2008

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Pilot projects at six Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have begun in an effort to find ways to lower the cost of textbooks for students.

Funded by the Legislature, the six pilot projects use different means of trying to reduce textbook costs. The pilot projects were begun following a competitive process that encouraged the system’s 32 colleges and universities to submit proposals for meeting the objective.

“We’re grateful that the Legislature gave us the opportunity to fund these projects,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick. “The six pilot projects should go a long way toward helping us find ways to reduce these costs. Textbooks are a significant investment these days. If we can lighten our students’ financial burden, they may be able to graduate with less debt.”

Local student associations and faculty members were involved in developing the projects. A national survey showed that in 2006-07 students at two-year public colleges spent an average of $850 a year, and students at four-year public institutions spent about $942 a year.

Here is a brief rundown of the six pilot projects:

Anoka Technical College received $148,300 to support faculty in finding lower-cost alternatives to textbooks and to help faculty incorporate alternatives into their course design.

South Central College which has campuses in Faribault and North Mankato, received $36,525 to offer more used textbook options for students and to determine whether faculty could develop replacement curricular materials to help lower textbook costs for students.

Vermilion Community College in Ely, part of the Northeast Higher Education District, received $60,000 to expand a textbook leasing program to all of the college’s general education courses. Hibbing Community College, also in the northeast district, received $20,000 to determine whether students and faculty will use online textbooks that may be free as part of various library subscriptions databases.

Minnesota West Community and Technical College which has campuses in Canby, Granite Falls, Jackson, Pipestone and Worthington, received $8,000 to create a limited textbook rental program.

Minnesota State University, Mankato received $5,000 to increase the number of textbooks on reserve in the library.

Additional pilot projects will be considered for funding for this academic year to further explore innovative approaches to reduce textbook costs for students. Results of the pilot projects will help determine which approaches work best and can be replicated on other campuses.