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Garrett Kelly, a biology major from Sylvester, peruses material from ABAC’s Baldwin Library. ABAC leads the University System of Georgia in the number of classes using low cost no cost textbooks and supporting material.

TIFTON — When it comes to saving money on the cost of textbooks, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College leads the way among the 26 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia.

According to information from GALILEO, Georgia’s virtual library, ABAC had 89% of its course sections at no cost or low cost for books and materials, college officials said in a statement. The figure tops all USG institutions.

“This is an initiative launched several years ago by the USG to help with the cost of textbooks for students,” Dr. Jerry Baker, ABAC provost and vice president for academic affairs, said. “All the institutions were encouraged to identify in the course schedule if a course offered a low-cost or no-cost textbook option.

“We have had several faculty members receive grants to help develop the no cost low cost books. Our math faculty were some of the first to look at this issue, and they received a USG grant to develop the no cost option. We started slowly but I have continued to ask faculty to think of options that can save students money.”

The USG continues expanding access to course selections requiring little or no additional cost for materials, saving students enrolled more than $27 million in educational costs, according to data collected by GALILEO.

“We now include a designation on the class schedule that students see when they register that will alert them to a section of a course that meets the low cost no cost criteria,” Baker said. “For example, a student might be looking to take an English literature course and one instructor may be using low cost no cost material while another has not selected that type of material.

“This will allow the students to consider if they want the lower cost section. I am pleased that our faculty consider cost when selecting textbooks. We still have courses where a textbook is required and that is acceptable but at least we consider the options.”

The low cost no cost materials could include open educational resources, which are free and customizable digital resources; online textbooks; library materials; or other resources accessible for free or reduced cost. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these resources have become increasingly more important for USG students.

“In a time where effective and affordable online and hybrid instruction is particularly crucial, open and affordable materials are enabling equitable, day-one access of required materials for students while offering new ways to enhance and customize online pedagogy for instructional faculty,” said Jeff Gallant, director of Affordable Learning Georgia, a GALILEO initiative.

Almost 4,000 students are taking classes at ABAC this semester from 24 countries and 19 states. ABAC attracts students from 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties and from 53 of Florida’s 67 counties.

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