New state law encourages low-cost textbooks at CSUs

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New state law encourages low-cost textbooks at CSUs

by Emely Navarro, Senior Staff Writer

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A bill that will help students save money on textbooks became California law this month.

Assemblymember Susan Bonilla began working on AB 798 in February. The bill will help relieve the financial burden of expensive textbooks by encouraging faculty to use low-cost textbooks available through open educational resources.

Open educational resources are a series of peer-reviewed course materials that can be used to replace hard-copy textbooks in a class, but only certain material is available this way. Depending on the syllabus of each class, it could be easier for one course to use than others.

For example, if a certain class has a textbook with similar content available in an open educational resource, the teacher can replace the book with this resource and give students access to a free digital copy.

Associated Students Vice President of External Relations Tyler Aguilar advocated for this bill while it was in the process of getting passed.

Aguilar first heard of the bill after it was brought to the attention of a board he is a part of through the California State Student Association.

He decided to get involved in advocating for the bill when he saw the huge support it received from CSSA and realized the positive impact it would have on students.

“It’s a really good piece of legislation, and it really addresses the issue of why students are paying so much money for textbooks, and not only textbooks, but resources in general,” Aguilar said.

Meredith Turner, assistant executive director and chief governmental officer of CSSA, hopes eventually all 23 California State University campuses will adopt the program, since it is currently optional on a campus-to-campus basis.

“We’re getting 3 million dollars from the state to do this, so I think that if we are able to show more cost savings for students, then this might be something that in a few years the state might invest more money in it,” Turner said.

If a CSU chooses to participate in this program, the campus’ academic senate and administration will work with faculty to determine which classes would benefit from this.

Then, they would see which courses guarantee they can save students 30 percent for textbooks. Any course that guarantees 30 percent savings is eligible to apply for the grant this program offers.

This grant will help teachers fund anything they need in order to move open educational resources into their course material in place of hard copy textbooks.

The money from the grant can be used to implement more course labs and get guest speakers and other resources the teacher thinks would improve the student’s educational experience.

As of now CSSA is giving every CSU campus more information about the program and encouraging them to use it, but no campus has confirmed they will implement it yet.

Aguilar said he’s working to get the program up and running at SDSU.

He will work with Vice President of University Affairs Andrea Byrd to develop on a pilot program before fully enacting it.

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