Fresno State partnering up with non-profit to give students free access to online textbooks

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The fall semester at Fresno State is just hours away and it is a mix of emotions for many.

"I am pretty nervous, to be honest with you," said Freshman Vincent Lee.

Once they hit the bookstore, those feelings might quickly change to dread. It is no secret that college textbooks can be very pricey, some costing hundreds of dollars. Lee is a first-time buyer.

"I have heard that they are really expensive and that sometimes you don't really need the books," he said.

This semester some students will get lucky and might have access to a free book or more. Fresno State is partnering up with Rice University-based non-profit OpenStax. This year they expect to save students across the country about $9 million dollars.

"College has a lot of expenses and often the textbook cost is that last expense, the one that students don't necessarily plan or even can predict," said Nicole Finkbeiner with OpenStax.

The online library currently has 36 books available with a little more than two million users. This includes a multitude of courses, from algebra to sociology. The books used are peer-reviewed and funded by grants.

"It helps them to move forward in their courses because they can immediately access the content on the first day of class they have unlimited access to the content," said Finkbeiner.

If a student wants a hard copy they can order one for about $30 to $60. Unfortunately, not all courses will have access to OpenStax, but there are still other ways for students to save.

"They can rent, they can purchase, they can go through our immediate access program," said Course Material Manager Dusty Guthier. "They have a lot of opportunities to price match their materials they're looking for online."

A cost-effective option at Fresno State is the Immediate Access Program. It grants a digital copy of a textbook and it's available on the first day of class. It is already saved students millions and that's something Lee can get behind.

"I fell like every college student is struggling with money, so saving is definitely a big one for everybody," said Lee.
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