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Thomas College Plans to Eliminate Textbooks for Some of its Courses

Thomas College wants to eliminate textbooks in some of its courses as a way to lower costs for students.

The Waterville-based college announced Tuesday that it will use a $140,000 grant to transition away from requiring textbooks to using free online resources in 30 courses over the next three years. That's out of about 250 courses that the school offers each semester.

Provost Thomas Edwards says the average student at the school pays about $800 per year for textbooks. He says this cost is a roadblock for many, particularly first-generation students, who represent about two-thirds of Thomas' population.

"It just makes it that much easier for me to walk into the classroom and learn," Edwards says. "Without the added worry and stress and strain of, 'How am I going to get that extra $500 per semester, above and beyond room and board?'"

The college charges about $37,000 per year for tuition, room and board, though students receive an average of about $17,000 in financial aid. Edwards says he hopes the grant shrink costs even further.

Education reporting on Maine Public Radio is supported by a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.