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Open-source textbooks save Beaufort students over $50,000 per semester

Open source textbooks are helping students at Beaufort County Community College save money, making the cost of their education less expensive and helping stretch financial aid or scholarship money they may be receiving.

The average student will spend over $1,200 on textbooks per year. Since initial adoption by Ashleigh Howard, Lead Professor for the Social & Behavioral Sciences Department, the books have been adopted by other professors across campus, cumulatively saving students over $50,000 per semester. Currently, cultural geography, history, criminal justice, sociology and Spanish classes are using the books.

Professors seek out open-source textbooks from a curated online library through NC LIVE, the library cooperative for North Carolina, as part of their Open Education North Carolina Initiative. Academics from all over the country have helped to develop the library. These textbooks cover the basics. Professors then supplement them with their own materials to make them work for their class.

This means they can use examples from current events or research that they can easily update, instead of having to abandon books because they contain material that is dated or no longer relevant. Professors are eligible for a $1,000 grant in order to compensate them for the development of the additional class materials.

Howard initially tried out the books on a single class in the Spring 2019 semester. During that semester alone, she saved students over $10,000. The adoption of open-license, open-source textbooks continues to spread across campus, and Howard anticipates that the savings will increase even more during the Fall 2020 semester.