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WA community and technical college system wins federal grant for no-cost open textbooks

November 20, 2023 by SBCTC Communications

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) recently received a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for three-year initiative that will expand the number of free introductory textbooks available to students in professional-technical programs. 

A team of college faculty members and SBCTC open education experts will use the funds to create a set of seven open textbooks for programs in internet technology; forensic science; computer-aided design; health, safety, and nutrition; computer numerical control machining; culinary math; and periodontics. 

The effort is part of SBCTC’s “Washington Open ProfTech” project, which involves developing open textbooks to prepare students for some of the highest-demand jobs in Washington. Open textbooks are copyright-cleared textbooks that are freely available to instructors, students, and anyone else in the world to use.

The competitive grant funding comes from the FY 2023 Open Textbook Pilot Program by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), administered by the U.S. Department of Education and funded by Congress. This is the second round of grant funding to SBCTC. A 2021 FIPSE grant led to the creation of introductory level open textbooks in criminal justice, machining, welding, early childhood education, hospitality, and healthcare.

Washington Senator Patty Murray chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, hailed the grant program for helping college students save money on high-priced books.

“Every person at any stage in life should have the opportunity to pursue higher education or learn the skills they need to be successful—and open textbooks are an important tool to making community and technical college education more affordable for students in Washington state and across the nation,” said Senator Murray. “I was proud to secure $12 million for the Open Textbooks program in last year’s government funding bill and it’s great to see more than $2 million head to Washington state. As chair of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to help students get the resources and tools they need to succeed—in the classroom and beyond.”

Nationally, the average community or technical college student pays $1,470 a year for textbooks and supplies, according to a 2023 report by the College Board. In Washington, that’s about 32 percent of the annual resident tuition costs

According to SBCTC Executive Director Paul Francis, about 40,000 economically disadvantaged students are enrolled in professional-technical programs across Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges. He said high textbook costs can force students in professional-technical programs to delay or forgo buying books, withdraw from class, or take fewer classes due to the added financial stress. “We’re thrilled that this federal grant support will help students not only save money on textbooks but stay in college and graduate,” he said.

Boyoung Chae, project director of the Washington Open ProfTech project and SBCTC’s policy lead on open education, said the grant funding provides a suite of valuable resources for college faculty.

“By creating seven new open textbooks and a full package of ancillary materials for each book, we can provide professional-technical faculty members with a wealth of resources to enhance the quality of their teaching and better support financially challenged students on their pathway into the workforce," she said. “This latest grant is a testament to the dedication and hard work of all the Open ProfTech project teams over the past two years.” 

Contact SBCTC Communications

Laura McDowell
Communications Director
(360) 704-4310

Katie Rose
Communications and Marketing Associate
(360) 704-4367

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(509) 270-1609

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Last Modified: 12/19/23, 1:07 PM
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