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The San Diego Community College District received nearly $100,000 in federal grants to provide free textbooks and resources to students. 

The Community Funding Project grant provided the district with $975,000 with the support of Rep. Scott Peters, who sought the funds. According to SDCCD officials, the grants will be used to develop more low-cost print options or zero-textbook-cost courses, which use digital materials that are free to students. 

“Students in higher education experience high levels of stress and face many challenges, but paying for essential materials like textbooks should not be one of them,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “The San Diego Community College District’s program that provides free online textbooks and resources is a shining example of how we should support students in pursuing their academic goals. My office holds SDCCD in high regard and looks forward to seeing how else community project funding grants are put to use.”

According to SDCCD, students spend about $1,200 on textbooks on average every year. The cost of textbooks along have risen more than 800 percent since 1978.  

“The cost of buying textbooks can often be more than our students are paying to take classes at our colleges,” said Carlos O. Cortez, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. “Offering more zero-textbook-cost classes is part of our district’s commitment to making sure all students have access to education.”

District officials say the grant will help expand previous projects from faculty, staff, and the bookstore to create free and low-cost expenses. In 2020, there were almost 5,500 classes offered with free or low-cost textbooks at the district’s four colleges throughout the county. 

Mathematics currently has the most zero-textbook-cost courses, although numerous other areas, including psychology, business, history, and English, offer such classes.

In fall 2021, students in zero-textbook-cost classes had a 2 percent higher success rate than in other classes. The district reported that students were able to save over $3 million in educational costs in the 2022-23 school year. 

The SDCCD has submitted three new requests for the fiscal year 2023 funding to Peters, Rep. Juan Vargas, and Rep. Sarah Jacobs. The requests range from $1.2 million to $1.5 million and all have been advanced to the House Appropriations Committee.

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