May 11, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College students saved more than $2 million in textbook costs this past academic year through a partnership with OpenStax, Rice University's open educational resources program that provides free, high-quality peer-reviewed textbooks.
Students can easily access the text directly from the OpenStax website, where they have the option to download a full copy, an e-book, or access the necessary information to obtain a traditional bound printed copy at cost.
GRCC is currently third among community colleges nationally in the number of students who make use of OpenStax.
Michael Vargo, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said the national ranking is phenomenal, considering that many of the other listed colleges are twice the size of GRCC.
"This has been a truly cross-campus effort," Vargo said. "I appreciate the strong support from everyone at GRCC to make these open educational resources available to students. We want to help students have the materials they need to be successful."
For the 2017-18 academic year, more than 325 class sections used OER materials, representing over 30 individual courses.
Vargo said textbook expenses, which range from $1,000 to $1,300 for full-time students, hit economically challenged and working-class students the hardest. One study notes that for each $1,000 increase in educational costs, the probability of students from these two groups continuing with their college studies dropped by 16 percent and 19 percent, respectively.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.