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CARTHAGE, TX - Starting next fall most students at Panola College won't have the burden of paying for textbooks anymore.

The community college is transitioning to using low-cost or no-cost open education resources or OER instead of the traditional textbooks.

An OER is either a textbook, video or other instructructional material that's open to the public or has an open license.

The college board says in 2014 the average cost of a textbook is $82 and combined with other resources and supplies it adds up to about $1300 a year. The school says this new program eliminates that.                   They say with the rise of tuition and textbooks this reduces a heavy load that students may already have.

"A lot of them have families,” said Teresa Brooks, Dean to Distance Learning. “A lot of our students are older than traditional college age. They have families. They have expenses, rent, all those things that people normally have to pay for. Textbooks cost so much because our tuition is relatively inexpensive at community college, the price of textbooks can even rival the cost of tuition."

Some classes already use OER, but in the fall of 2019 about 80 percent of classes will be in the program. OER is primarily for the core foundation classes. The school says the only basic courses that will not be initially available using OER are Texas Government and some science courses.

Students say they're excited about what's to come and they're glad things will be a little less expensive moving forward.

"By the time I actually pay for my classes, then I have to stress about paying for textbooks and that's just...I don't like that," sophomore Jayden Grant said.

"I paid for the classes,” said another sophomore Kyree Williams. “I paid for the tuition. I paid to be at the school. I want to learn now."

According to a survey by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 65 percent of students don't buy textbooks because they cost too much and 94 percent of them say they were worried their grades would suffer.

Students can earn 31 of their 42 hours at Panola without buying a textbook.

Already, more than 200 Panola College courses do not require a textbook.

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