GHC saves students more than $6 million with free textbooks

GHC students sitting around laptop under tree

Georgia Highlands College has saved students over $6 million by eliminating textbook costs and providing free digital options.

GHC’s faculty have been working since fall 2015 to expand Open Education Resources (OER) courses each semester.

OER course conversions are aided by the University System of Georgia’s Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) initiative which promotes student success by providing cost-free alternatives to expensive textbooks.

The new OERs don’t just provide free textbooks either. Students also get video resources, software, labs and an enhanced textbook experience with hyperlinks to many other resources.

Through spring 2018, GHC’s faculty has helped students save roughly $6.48 million with offerings in 25 courses across 250 classes.

Textbooks and course materials average $1,250 per student per year. Due to the higher costs of textbooks, replacing one or two with open educational resources can make an immediate impact to saving students money.

For example, in a specific course:

  • Georgia Highlands College:
    • 720 students per year in a specific course; previous book and lab manual cost $361.
    • Savings to students: almost $260,000 annually.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Renva Watterson stated it is imperative that students have access to these free OER textbook alternatives.

“There are several reasons why many college students do not buy recommended and required textbooks, but one fundamental reason is they can’t afford them,” she said. “When you have students sitting in class and they don’t have a text, which is often an essential learning tool, then you put students at academic risk.”

According to a survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, 65 percent of students said they had not purchased a textbook at least once because they had found the price too high. The group surveyed 2,000 students from across 150 campuses.

GHC’s total cost savings is based on the cost of a new textbook multiplied by the total number of non-dual enrollment students enrolled in courses offering OERs. Textbooks are already included in the dual enrollment program and provided to dual enrollment students at no cost.

Since OER is open to anyone for free, students, potential students or even the public can view these resources at any time. OER textbooks can be downloaded to any smart device, phone or tablet. To view, please visit:

GHC plans to continue to offer OERs and expand into as many areas and courses as possible moving forward.

For more information on the USG’s ALG initiative, please visit: