Turning The Page: Hancock Students Benefit From President's Circle Textbook Donation, College Announces Zero Textbook Cost Degrees

The textbooks will be on reserve in the college's Santa Maria and Lompoc Valley Center libraries

Dr. Kevin WalthersJANUARY 31, 2018--Allan Hancock College student Janet Cruz-Reyes knows firsthand about the burden of paying for textbooks. She spends anywhere from $200-500 on books each semester.

“I had to get a second job because I could barely make ends meet with one job,” said Cruz-Reyes, the president of the Associated Student Body Government. “The money spent on books becomes a problem because many college students also have to pay for transportation, food, other school supplies, and sometimes child care and rent.”

Cruz-Reyes is part of the majority when it comes to the impact textbook costs have on college students. Nationally, consumer prices for textbooks have climbed 88 percent over the last 10 years. A recent 2017 survey of Hancock students quantifies the impact of textbook prices. Sixty-five percent of students said they dropped or withdrew from a class due to the price of a required textbook. Sixty-one percent of students, like Cruz-Reyes, spend at least $200 per semester on textbooks. Fifty-three percent did not purchase a required textbook because of the cost, and 45 percent of students did not register for a course because of the price of the textbook.

“I have taken a course and did not purchase the required textbooks because it was too expensive. In some cases, the classes required up to four books,” said Cruz-Reyes, a political science major.  

Fortunately, for students like Cruz-Reyes, help is on the way thanks to the work of Hancock faculty and staff. The college announced the purchase of up to $40,000 in new textbooks that will be available to all students in the library. Nearly 250 books, all required by instructors, were purchased with funding from the President’s Circle, a group of nearly 100 community and business leaders whose donations allow the college to assist thousands of students by funding unique opportunities and programs. The Allan Hancock College Foundation operates and manages the unrestricted funds. The purchase nearly doubles the number of textbooks currently on reserve in the college’s Santa Maria and Lompoc Valley Center libraries. 

“We are grateful for President’s Circle members who believe and invest in the transformative powers of education,” said Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. “Because of their generosity, the college can further ease the burden on our students and improve student access, equity and success.”

The books will be available to students to use for two hours at a time in the library at no charge.

“This is about accessibility,” said Robert Curry, Ph.D., the college’s academic dean who oversees the library. “When you add the 50 textbooks donated every semester to the library by Follett, the company that runs the campus bookstore, our students should be able to get their hands on any required textbook.”

The Allan Hancock College Foundation operates and manages the President’s Circle Fund. Over the last few years, President’s Circle funding allowed the college to create a new laboratory technician position for high-demand biology classes, launch a pilot program for foster youth, as well as start and expand a food share program that provides fresh produce and non-perishable food to hundreds of students twice a month.

“I think students are fortunate the college is stepping up to provide aJanet Cruz-Reyes copy of every textbook. I have personally benefited from books in the library reserve and know that thousands more will as a result of this donation,” added Cruz-Reyes.

The donation is a component of the college’s focus on offsetting the rising cost of textbooks for its students. For nearly two years, the college’s Academic Senate and the Board of Trustees have discussed the use of Open Education Resources (OER) that refer to any course materials, videos or modules available at no cost.

Recently, the college received a $200,000 grant to launch three Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) degrees in fall 2018. As part of a pilot program, students will be able to complete the required courses for three associate for transfer degrees without purchasing a single textbook. The three ZTC degrees are associate degrees for transfer in political science, liberal arts – math and science, liberal arts – social and behavioral science.

“The main benefit is cost reduction,” said Jessica Scarffe, a political science professor who is serving as the ZTC project director. “Hancock has a high percentage of first-generation college students and a high percentage of low-income students. Removing textbook costs makes college more accessible and support the college’s student equity effort.”

Scarffe is one of the many Hancock instructors already using OER content for their courses. As a result of the grant, students will be able to choose from more than 20 general education (GE) classes that are ZTC courses, including anthropology, chemistry, economics, political science, history, speech, English, mathematics and sociology.

“There is a lot of support from faculty,” said Scarffe. “Hancock’s commitment to open education resources keeps the college on the cutting edge of educational technology and educational philosophy.”  

Using enrollment numbers from 2016-17, the college projects a total of 39,985 students will earn more than 1,000 ZTC degrees during a three-year period after implementation. Based on the premise a student will save $100-200 each semester on books, the college projects students will save between $4,000,000 – 8,000,000.

“The college is committed to meeting the needs of our students and community. Zero Textbook Cost degrees and the purchase of hundreds of textbooks are two more examples of how our faculty, staff and generous community allow us to accomplish our mission,” said Walthers.

Cruz-Reyes is already seeing the benefits of ZTC classes. She is enrolled in one of Scarffe’s ZTC political science classes this spring.

“I think the Zero Textbook Cost program is an amazing movement,” said Cruz-Reyes. “I am proud to attend a college that finds innovative ways to help students to ensure our success.”

 - AHC -

Caption: Allan Hancock College Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. announced at a press conference on Wednesday that a donation from President’s Circle members will provide up to $40,000 in new textbooks that will be available to all students in the library.

Caption 2: Janet Cruz-Reyes, president of the Associated Student Body Government, spoke on how students, including herself, will benefit from the Zero Textbook Cost program at Allan Hancock College.

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Last Modified Oct 23, 2018