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Local Education

With Enrollment Down, Local Community Colleges Offer Incentives

Crafton Hills College Books
Erick Zambrano
/
San Bernardino Community College District
Crafton Hills College Bookstore staff distributing textbooks and course materials under the Books+ program on August 16, 2021.

When a single textbook can cost anywhere from $25 to $400, sometimes students have to choose between school and a living expense said San Bernardino Community College District Chancellor Diana Rodriguez.

“We didn’t want our students coming out of the pandemic to have to make those decisions," said Rodriguez. "So, we’re offering them a free rental book option when they register for courses.”

The need for the program, called Books +, became clear as stories of student’s financial struggles at San Bernardino Valley College and Crafton Hills College made their way to the chancellor’s office. Some lost their jobs due to the pandemic, others needed to support unemployed family members.

“In our communities, where our colleges are, have been just almost devastated by the pandemic, and our enrollment reflects that," said Rodriguez. "We are hoping that being able to provide the textbooks for our student, that it gives them some incentive to continue on with their education.”

Studies show, delays in earning a degree may have lifelong effects on income, and the ability to limit the financial strain of future recessions.

Historically community colleges serve the largest share of students of color and lower income students. National enrollment was down by 10 percent in 2020, according to the National Student Research Center, raising concerns about the pandemic worsening the challenges students already face.