When Pikes Peak Community College’s president, Lance Bolton, meets with students, one question always comes up.

“They ask why textbooks are so expensive,” he said. “Clearly, this is a significant barrier students face.”

The average cost of textbooks for community college students nationally is an estimated $1,500 per year, according to the College Board.

To help students lower the cost of education, PPCC for the second year will offer free “open educational resources” when classes resume Aug. 26.

Open educational resources are publicly accessible, openly licensed and usually digital educational materials. They can be freely used, adapted, offered in print form and shared with little or no restrictions.

The program allows faculty to adapt materials tailored to their subject and teaching style, said PPCC spokeswoman Karen Kovaly, while providing students with a more affordable option for coursework.

The number of PPCC courses that will use the materials has tripled for the coming academic year, said program coordinator Marc Nash, amounting to 52 credits worth of classes.

That will affect about 15,000 students — a majority of enrollment — and represent an estimated $2 million in collective savings, he said.

Last school year’s savings for students was $400,000.

The Colorado Department of Higher Education recently awarded PPCC $40,000 in grants to help develop the open educational resources program.

The amount is part of $550,000 in grants given to Colorado colleges, with PPCC receiving the largest award of any community college in the state.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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