The rising cost of textbooks and course materials is a significant but often overlooked barrier to affording a college degree.
The goal of the library’s Textbook Affordability program is to work with campus partners and faculty to minimize the cost of course materials for students while maintaining the quality of educational materials and respecting academic freedom.
Areas of focus
1) locating electronic books as one-to-one replacements of existing course textbooks – with no cost to students
2) hosting print copies of textbooks on Reserve
3) identifying open educational resources and library-sourced information as alternatives to commercially produced textbooks
4) tracking metrics associated with faculty adoptions
To date, UCF faculty have taught over 500 classes using open or library-sourced materials, in turn reaching almost 35,000 students and potentially saving them just over $3,200,000.*
Students, click on the Students tab to see our tips to saving money on textbooks and if the library owns a copy of your textbook.
Faculty, browse our services to see if we can help you find affordable course materials.
*Savings are calculated as cost of a new book by number of course enrollments as of Spring 2020.
- See if the library has your course text as an electronic book. In many cases, the library has purchased the ebook version of assigned course textbooks. These texts can be accessed when you want, where you want, and at no cost to you!
Search for e-books or Ask Us here.
- Select from hundreds of print textbooks loaned by the library. Most textbooks circulate for two hours, providing you access to course materials.
View textbooks on Reserve.
- Search textbook costs for ALL sections of your class when registering. Faculty select their own course materials, and textbooks often vary across sections.Some faculty have adopted an open textbook. Generally speaking, open textbooks can be accessed electronically and downloaded at no cost.
- Get a lower price at the UCF Bookstore from their price matching option and/or request that the online access code be “unbundled” from the book. Sometimes you can save money by purchasing a used text and an access code, sometimes not. Regardless, the 2008 Higher Education Authorization Act requires that “bundled” items – generally the college textbook and supplemental materials, including online access codes – also be made available “as separate and unbundled items, each separately priced.”
- Donate your textbook after the semester is over. Consider being a student champion by donating your course textbook to the library.
- Reward good behavior… nominate a faculty member who’s worked to reduce the cost of textbooks. With permission we’ll add your instructor to this website and acknowledge their efforts.
One way that faculty can help reduce the cost of a college education and positively impact student academic performance is to remove the barrier of high cost, commercially produced textbooks. One large scale research study reports that students who have access to no/low cost course materials enjoy higher GPA, increased retention, reduced time to graduation, and decreased student debt.
There are several options for faculty to support textbook affordability efforts.
- See if the library can offer your textbook as an electronic book. To date, faculty have saved students hundreds of thousands of dollars by using library ebooks as one-to-one replacements of the assigned course text. The library will check for ebook candidates that allow unlimited users and offer favorable digital rights management (DRM).
Contact your Subject or Campus Librarian for more information.
- Join faculty who have adopted an open textbook. Open educational resources are openly-licensed digital textbooks that are freely available online. Open textbooks allow anyone to read, copy, distribute, or modify the course content at no cost. Check out OpenStax hosted by Rice University as one resource for GEP and introductory course textbooks.
- Donate a copy of your print textbook to the library. We recognize that not every textbook has an open or library-sourced equivalent, so an alternative is to place a copy of your print textbook on Reserves. Most textbooks will circulate for two hours, providing access to students who haven’t yet purchased the textbook or intend to rely solely on the Reserves copy.
Contact your Subject or Campus Librarian to donate currently assigned textbooks to the library.
- Work with the bookstore! Submit your assigned course textbook(s) on time to allow students to shop the cost of course materials and the bookstore to locate used and rental textbooks. Check the textbook adoption deadlines here. Also, be judicious when using customized textbooks or newer editions. Customizing often drives up the price and prohibits re-sale of the text back to the bookstore. Instead, work with your Subject or Campus Librarian to see if resources can be found to accomplish the goal of the customized textbook. If older editions of the course text are acceptable, state that on the syllabus.
- Let students (and us!) know what you’re doing to drive down costs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are using any type of zero-cost alternative to a book, please be sure to indicate in Faculty Enlight that students should attend class first for textbook access. If you list a book that is freely available and also available for purchase, neither the bookstore or the student will know a free option is available.
Why it Matters
Textbook prices have increased almost 200% over the past 20 years, even when controlling for an overall inflation rate of 55%. With students expected to pay on average over $1,200 annually for books and supplies,some commercial textbook publishers have effectively priced textbooks out of reach for many college students.
The cost of textbooks impacts student academic behaviors, and not having access to required materials can compromise student success. Responses to a 2018 statewide survey (n=21,000) indicate that 64.2% of Florida higher education students have not purchased a required textbook due to cost. Further, 42.8% have taken fewer courses, 40.5% have not registered for a specific course, and 35.6% attributed earning a poor grade to textbook cost.
It’s not surprising that these same students reported trying to reduce their textbook costs through a variety of means. The most-used cost saving strategy is to purchase books from a source other than the campus bookstore, followed by buying used copies or renting textbooks from the bookstore.
According to the 2018 Babson survey on open educational resources, faculty believe that the high cost of course materials is having a negative impact on student access. Legislators have likewise responded and textbook affordability measures are now mandated for all Florida state universities and colleges. The Florida statute that addresses textbook costs requires that textbooks be posted a minimum of 45 days prior to the start of classes and that a report on textbook cost variance at the institution be submitted annually. At the same time, the legislature recognizes the faculty’s right to academic freedom. Language within Article 5.2 of the 2015-2018 BOT-UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement further describes how academic freedom can apply to teaching and instructional materials:
“Consistent with the exercise of academic responsibility, employees shall have freedom to present and discuss their own academic subjects, frankly and forthrightly, without fear of censorship, and to select instructional materials and determine grades in accordance with University policies.”
While recognizing that they retain responsibility for selecting quality instructional materials, many faculty also are growing increasingly concerned about the cost of commercially published textbooks while others have expressed frustration with how their textbooks cover some material or how new editions are churned out too quickly in subject areas that change little over time. Taking these factors into consideration, many faculty are exploring ways to reduce textbook costs and “expand the discussion” by adding new voices and viewpoints to course readings.
Textbook Affordability provides solutions to the rising cost of course materials, in turn positively impacting student success.
Contact us today to see if we can find affordable options for your course materials.