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CA colleges work to reduce high cost of textbooks

College students pay upwards of 11 hundred dollars a year for books and supplies — so many schools are working to try to reduce that burden.

A study from U.S. Public Interest Research Group finds the cost of course materials has increased at three times the rate of inflation since the 1970s, due mostly to lack of competition in the college publishing industry. Cailyn Nagle with the Michelson 20 Million Minds Foundation is a coauthor of that report.

"We see 65% of students skip buying a textbook due to cost, and 21% of students skip buying access codes because they can't afford it."

Many campus libraries lend out textbooks, and bookstores sell used books and facilitate rentals or digital downloads. Students look for deals online. And schools are also moving toward an Open Educational Resource model — where courses use textbooks, journals and other materials that are free online. In 2021, the State of California allocated more than 115 million dollars to help schools promote the transition.

Leslie Kennedy is with the California State University Office of the Chancellor.

"We work really hard to help faculty become aware of zero-cost course materials, and to help them with the time and effort that it takes to migrate their courses utilizing a free or low-cost material."

Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 607, which requires colleges and universities to disclose the costs of their courses ahead of time. For California News Service, I'm Suzanne Potter.

Suzanne Potter is a journalist with 30 years of experience as a reporter for TV, radio and print news. She spent 15 years as a local TV news reporter in Palm Springs, CA and Providence, RI. She earned a B.A. in Mass Communications from UC Berkeley and spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. She lives in Palm Desert, CA, is married with four children and is a longtime leader with the Boy Scouts of America.