Tag Archives: Textbook Costs

OER and College Financial Readiness

The 1,000 Dreams Fund is a non-profit organization with a mission of providing financial support to women attending college. Recently, the organization surveyed 1,092 young college females and males, some of which were recent college graduates about college cost expectations (Campus Technology).

The survey found that among those that did not complete college, finances were an issue, with 60% of Hispanic students who did not complete college, reporting financial limitations. Unexpected college costs were also more of an issue for females than males (Campus Technology).

The report concluded that the unexpected college costs which include textbooks, housing, food, school exams and fees, and moving expenses are more likely to keep first generation students, and females from participating in extracurricular college activities, and internships, both which are advantageous when recent college graduates enter the workforce (Campus Technology).


Source: Campus Technology, Dian Schaffhauser, 10/30/17

OER and other properly licensed free course materials can assist students especially those who are at risk of leaving college early to not only satisfactorily complete their goals but can also be beneficial in providing opportunities for these students to engage in campus extracurricular activities, internships, tutoring, and other student success behaviors outside of the classroom. This potential benefit of having faculty use OER is not often examined or taken into account when institutions consider saving students money on textbooks costs through openly licensed course materials. The findings from this 1,000 Dreams Fund survey can also be helpful when designing Zero Textbook Cost degree (ZTCD) pathways.

Use of Free Course Materials Is on the Rise

New reports show that openly licensed resources and other cost saving behaviors are making an impact on the high cost of textbooks. Business Wire reported that student spending on textbooks and course materials has declined by approximately 15% over the last decade or $100. In 2016-2017 the average spending on textbooks and course materials was approximately $543. Various reports contribute this decline to more smarter student behaviors rather than a decline in textbook pricing (Business Wire).

According to the National Association of College Stores, while the overwhelming majority of college students purchase new traditionally copyrighted textbooks, 25% of students in spring 2017, and up from 19% in 2016, accessed free course materials.

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Source: National Association of College Stores

The increase in the use of free course materials is most likely related to the OER outreach efforts taking place at many colleges and universities. In its 2016-2017 Connect OER Report, SPARC found that among its member institutions of higher education, libraries are the most engaged institutional sources of OER information, and about half of the institutions have a staff or faculty with OER related responsibilities (SPARC, 2017). The survey conducted by SPARC of its members also found that the most common OER program is funded through grants, with most of them beginning in 2016 and 2017 (SPARC, 2017).


Source: Connect OER Annual Report, SPARC, 2016-2017

Launching OER Degree Pathways

Achieving the Dream is a non-profit organization working to improve student success for community college students across the country through leadership, support, innovative strategies, and projects.

The organization awarded grant funding as part of its Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative to 38 community colleges across 13 states to develop zero textbook cost degree pathways. Recently Achieving the Dream detailed progress on its initiative in a report titled: Launching OER Degree Pathways: An Early Snapshot of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative and Emerging Lessons.

Here are some of the main findings from the report: Continue reading

Non-Credit Courses and OER

Non-credit courses require no fees and students do not receive college credit or official grades. College programs across the campus might be interested in developing non-credit courses to help students succeed in college, prepare for a major or course of study, and gain marketable skills. Non-credit courses however can impede some students from succeeding due to the cost of instructional materials that might be required for some non-credit courses.

Here are some examples of topics and OER which can be used to develop non-credit courses. Continue reading

The Most Expensive Textbooks by Major

Priceonomics analyzed textbook data using University of Virginia’s fall 2015 textbook list. The data analyzed included the cost of 5,000 textbooks for approximately 750 courses.

The findings showed the following top five disciplines as having the highest average textbook cost per class. Click here for the complete list of the top 31 disciplines with the highest average textbook costs. Continue reading