Textbook Affordability



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.

Adopt eBooks and OER

Library-sourced materials and OER (open educational resources) are free options to students. Consider the below options for your required course materials.

  1. Adopt a library eBook. To see if the library can offer your textbook as an eBook, send an email to our Textbook Affordability Librarian or fill out the eTEXTBOOK CHECK/REQUEST form.
    • Many textbooks are available in the electronic format that allow unlimited users and favorable digital rights management (DRM). This means your whole class (and anyone at UCF) could access the eBook online simultaneously. Depending on the publisher that provides the eBook, there may be download options.
  2. Consider an alternative library material or OER (open educational resource). To review this process, connect with our Textbook Affordability Librarian.
    • Your current textbook may not be available as a library-sourced eBook. In this case, you may consider an alternative eBook or other material available through the library. Alternatively, you may consider OER.
    • OER or open textbooks are designed to be no-cost, openly licensed solutions for course materials. They have flexibility so you may edit or adapt if needed for your course. Our librarians can help you identify OER related to your subject area. Some common sources for OER are OpenStax and the Open Textbook Library.
  3. Consider creating or adapting your own OER. To start this discussion, submit the OER Contact Form.
    • Some faculty choose to create or adapt their own open educational resources for their courses. The Center for Distributed Learning has a dedicated team of instructional designers who specialize in supporting faculty interested in Open Education.

Inform Your Students

Currently, there is no automated way to inform your students that a free textbook exists for their class. We need your help to let them know. Use these options to inform your students that you have adopted library-sourced materials or OER.

  1. List your free materials through UCF’s official textbook adoption process.
    • When you adopt textbooks through the bookstore’s Adoptions & Insights Portal (AIP), you may follow instructions for listing free-to-student course materials. See instruction slides 7-12 of the linked PDF from Barnes & Noble.
    • Open educational resources: If the OER product has an ISBN, please adopt the OER ISBN, then add this note for bookstore: “The digital copy is available for free ($0). Go to class first.” To adopt OER that does not have an ISBN, please select “I’m not using any materials for this class” and move the toggle to “Yes” when prompted “Are you using Open Educational Resources (OER)?”
    • Library-sourced eBooks/eTextbooks: Adopt your textbook as normal, but include a note on it: “This ebook is free from the UCF Library. Go to class first.” This informs students that they do not need to purchase the book. They will attend your class for the library’s eTextbook link.
      AIP Screenshot showing a textbook with a note to the bookstore.
  2. Use syllabus statements and other course announcements to alert your students.
    • We provide suggested syllabus language if you adopt eBooks from the library. You may use and adapt this content. Click on eTextbooks from the Library.
  3. Submit your information to Affordability Counts.
    • If your course materials are free or cost less than $20 per credit hour, your course qualifies for Affordability Counts. Students may use this database to find courses that provide affordable course materials. You will also qualify to earn a digital badge to display. Submit your course to Affordability Counts.
  4. Ensure your eBook or OER is located in the library’s eTextbook Portal.
    • Students can search for their free course materials based on course number, instructor, or textbook information. If the eTextbook Portal needs any changes, such as updated instructor names, please contact the Textbook Affordability Librarian.

Place Items on Reserve (Course Reserves)

Not every textbook has an open or library-sourced eBook equivalent. To help some students who may not be able to purchase your textbook, you may place a copy of your print textbook on reserve at the library. The library currently does not have a fund to purchase textbooks for course reserves.

For more information on placing items on reserve, please see the course reserves information page.


Over 300 UCF faculty have adopted open or library-sourced materials as replacements for traditional textbooks. Here are just a few stories from our faculty. Do you have a story to tell? Send your testimonial and a photo to our Textbook Affordability Librarian.

Photo of Christian Beck


“As a long-time advocate for open and free knowledge, I have been able to develop free textbooks for two of my large literature survey courses by using openly licensed material. Students that take ENL2012 and LIT2110 are not always literature majors and were previously obligated to purchase large, expensive anthologies. By developing Open Educational Resources (OER) for my students, I not only help the students save money on textbooks, but I’m able to integrate, arrange, and highlight particular texts that a corporate publisher might not include or discuss in their anthology. Furthermore, creating an OER provides the opportunity to expand your research agenda. For example, I translated the Old English poem “The Wife’s Lament” to be included in my Anthology of Medieval Literature OER and licensed it under Creative Commons so that anyone can access it and use it in their courses or research. The UCF librarians and the CDL instructional designers that brought these two OERs to life have a shared desire to provide our students with the best possible resources that, in the end, make knowledge freely accessible at little to no cost for the students. If we truly have our students’ best interests in mind, then utilizing our library resources and providing cost-saving options (without sacrificing important content) does our students a great service.”

Check out the free course materials:

Photo of Rick Biehl


“Engineering textbooks are really expensive. I am always scouring the UCF Libraries search page for materials that are available for my students as online free resources. When I find them, I adopt whatever I can into my courses in lieu of paid resources and texts. I always note the URL links to these materials in my 60-day and 30-day advance welcome messages that I send my students so that they learn as early as possible that they don’t need to purchase materials. I then also include those URL links directly in my syllabus, and I create a separate External URL link for each text in the initial General module in my WebCourses@UCF course.

Beyond the obvious financial benefits for my students, I also realize tremendous benefits in my course design because I am not restricted to teaching from any one ideal text. I am free to assemble materials that best represent the content knowledge I need to convey presented in meaningful and student-centered ways. It’s not unusual for me to include two primary texts, several secondary texts, and a few ancillary texts that support methods or techniques that I’m teaching but that might not be included within the primary texts. EIN4360 Facilities Planning & Work Design is an excellent example. I use two primary texts: one on facilities planning and the other on work system design. Next, I include several texts that offer distinct or alternative viewpoints on this material, such as a two-volume text on using Lean Enterprise principles in work design, or a text on facilities management (with facilities managers as the customers of our planning process), and another on practices for reviewing facility designs. Lastly, I include a supplementary text on the systems modeling language since that’s the set of techniques they are likely to use when applying the materials in my class. Students access all seven of these texts for free through the UCF library, avoiding a $250 cost just for the two primary texts.

One last benefit for me is that I can assign my own text in a class without feeling any conflict of interest over assigning students to purchase a book for which I receive a royalty.”

Check out some of the free course materials:

Photo of Annabelle Conroy


“Equity and inclusiveness are very important to me. While I always tried to achieve this by carefully curating my reading list, the turning point for me came when one of my students said, “I always look at the cost of the textbooks before I sign up for a class and I was hoping yours was not too expensive because I really wanted to take this class.” It suddenly dawned on me that regardless of how careful we are in designing a class, if the textbooks and other materials are unaffordable, the whole class becomes inaccessible to students who do not have the means to spend hundreds of dollars in addition to tuition, housing, meals, and transportation. Since then, I have made it a priority to ensure that all my classes have a no-cost set of learning materials and resources. The benefits have been enormous. Students can begin the class right away, without having to wait for financial aid to come through. In addition, I have the flexibility to add a variety of sources whereas before I would stick to one or two textbooks. Retention and completion have increased as well. Students have provided very positive feedback such as being able to use the money for other more pressing needs (housing, food, transportation). I, therefore, strongly recommend using OER or low-cost textbooks whenever possible.”

In Spring 2021, Annabelle received the AIM High Impact Individual Award for her remarkable contributions to reduce the cost of course materials for her students through library-sourced materials and open educational resources (OER).
Check out the free course materials:

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