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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't Go Broke Paying For College Textbooks - Flat World Offers Books Free!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Flatworld Knowledge for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Imagine attending college and reading all the required textbooks for free!  Flat World Knowledge makes this possible.  When I was a college student, I attended as many years of community college as I could to keep costs down.  I then acquired student loans to finish the last two years of my degree.  During this time, I was in my 20's and working a 36-hour week night-shift at a law firm and taking 20 credit hours of college work during the day.  I took on an additional part-time job to help pay the bills that I accrued through textbooks alone, but it wasn't enough to cover the rising costs of the books.  I finished, but not without a large debt to be paid.  It's sad, but true!  The cost of college textbooks are increasingly becoming a barrier to finishing higher level education for many.

Easy access to affordable education has never been more important.  With the rising cost of college education, displaced workers returning to school and families wanting to give their child a college education they can afford, almost half of all students in higher education are now attending a community college with a total of as many as 80% of all college students attending some form of public institution.  While the costs of tuition at these local institutions may be more affordable, the textbooks can be quite expensive.

A personal Story and Stats:

My first personal credit card debt was rung up as a result of  the cost of textbooks alone.  These are textbooks that were used for one semester and then resold at an extreme reduction, never to regain the initial expense.  I would even wake up early and wait at the bookstore door when the books went on sale so I could get first crack at the few reduced-price used books offered.  Some were required for the course, purchased and never even assigned for use by the instructor throughout the class.  In fact, according to The College Board, in 2010-11 school year students are estimated to have spent an average of $1,137 on textbooks and supplies alone.  According to the Department of Education, textbooks cost almost as much as tuition and fees combined leaving the cost of books to be as much as 42% of the cost of attending college.  And, the cost is rising!  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates textbook prices to rise at four times the rate of inflation.  Additionally, the Gates Foundation study believes this to have a substantive impact on students' ability to complete coursework.  They report that 60% of students who failed to graduate state that the cost of textbooks was a factor.

There is Hope:

With these statistics, the future of affordable college education looks grim.  Don't despair!  Flat World is an online resource that is creating a Textbook Rebellion and is seeking to disrupt an $8.5 billion United States textbook market.  Spread the word Flat World offers books free.  That's right!  The books are completely free when read online in an easy scrolling format.  If you prefer to print the book, have an actual copy of the book or read it on your e-reader, you can do that too in an affordable manner.  Printable, offline, books costs approximately $35, and e-books and other formats can be purchased for $25.  The way they make these books affordable or free is by pairing open licensing and textbook personalization with an affordable and radical pricing model.  And, that's not all.

Flat World Knowledge goes a step farther in the use of technology to bring costs down in two very important ways:

1. They enable faculty to change the textbook from a book to a usable, teachable platform
2. They enable the student to consume the content that suits their learning style

Since spring 2009, Flat World's books have been enjoyed by more than 1,600 professors in over 900 schools.  That adds up to over 115,000 students saving money and learning through Flat World.  Flat World has raised over $27 million over the last 2 years to build a sustainable model filled with open content.  As a bonus, early pilot studies conducted by colleges using Flat World open textbooks have shown that there has been a 10-15% increase in course completion rates when Open textbooks were used compared to the use of traditional costly textbooks.

Why wait?  Visit their site and request more info as an educator or as a student today and save a bundle!

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