Less financial stress for college students means they have more time and energy to focus on their academic studies. And with more and more faculty members participating in the successful Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) program, Cal State San Bernardino is reducing that financial burden, as students no longer need to worry about the high cost of textbooks.

In fact, in this academic year alone, more than 10,000 students have saved nearly $2 million on textbook costs. 

“This is a phenomenal accomplishment that we should all be proud of!” said Cary M. Barber, program coordinator for CSUSB’s AL$ program and assistant professor of ancient history.

To celebrate such an achievement that highly benefits students, CSUSB’s AL$ program hosted its Annual Faculty Showcase in mid-April in honor of faculty adopters of no- or low-cost course materials.

The virtual event not only celebrated the hard work of faculty, but also served as an opportunity to learn more about Open Educational Resources (OER), Immediate Access, and other programs designed to ease students’ financial hardships.

The Annual Faculty Showcase also offered information about next year’s AL$ Grant Call, which this year offered $300 for the adoption of Immediate Access materials and $700 for OER adoptions that saved students 30 percent or more in comparison to previous offerings.

CSUSB’s AL$ program, which launched in 2013, has benefited nearly 25,500 students, as almost 700 courses have switched to free or low-cost course materials, saving students $3.3 million in the process. To make this happen, CSUSB has awarded faculty with grants totaling $100,000 to help transition their courses to free or affordable course material.

According to the Open Textbook Alliance, a nationwide coalition of student government leaders, over the last 30 years, textbook prices have risen 800 percent and about 65 percent of students have opted not to buy a required textbook due to the cost. To help students, the California State University system created the AL$ program, which is used by all 23 CSU campuses, including CSUSB.

The CSU enables the program with grant funding distributions to the CSU campuses so that they may implement projects to raise the awareness of low- and no-cost course materials and support the discovery and adoption of them. These savings metrics are compiled from a combination of faculty using library databases, discounted bookstore materials and programs, online homework websites and open educational resources.

Alleviating student hardship has never been more critical, and so AL$ aims to redouble its efforts by expanding Immediate Access and OER offerings for next year,” Barber said. “If the past is any indicator of the future, then we’ll find continued success based on the extraordinary support of the CSUSB community, including the remarkable efforts of faculty contributors and the sustained support of Lisa Bartle (Pfau Library), Brad Owen (ATI), Sam Sudhakar (ITS) and the Office of the Provost and President.”

To learn more about CSUSB’s AL$ program, visit the CSUSB Affordable Learning Solutions website.

For more information about the AL$ program at the CSU level, visit the Affordable Learning Solutions website.