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Course Materials: How to Control Costs: Why look for alternatives to traditional course materials?

Teaching and learning materials freely available on the web and from Horn Library

How can professors reduce text and material costs for students?

Textbook costs, as detailed in the graph below, have risen 80% in the past ten years.  Students often increase their educational loan amounts to cover these costs, adding to their debt upon graduation.

Here are seven ways professors can help reduce text and material costs for your students:

  • Choose a library licensed eBook with appropriate Digital Rights Management (DRM).  Not sure about a resource's DRM?  Contact your library liaison.
  • Link to articles available through existing library subscriptions.  Locate articles using Horn's single search and contact your library liaison for assistance.
  • If using cases in your class, check out which case resources add no cost for students.
  • Choose an Open Educational Resource (OER).
  • Select materials and create a custom course pack rather than requiring students to purchase multiple books.
  • Put copies of your course text and any required readings on reserve in the library.
  • Let students know as early as possible what texts will be required, so they can shop around for the best deal.

Rising Textbook Costs

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, College tuition and fees increase 63 percent since January 2006 on the Internet at (visited January 10, 2020).


What can students do to save money?

Here are some steps students can take to reduce textbook costs:

  • Does the library own your textbook or is it on reserve in the library?  Search Horn's single search by the book title to find out.
  • Is renting your textbook an option?
  • Shop around to see where you can get the best price on the books you need, new or used.
  • Sell used books back to the bookstore.
  • Don't purchase the wrong books.  Check the syllabus for your class and section.

Research Librarian

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Billy Tringali

Faculty Behaviors Related to Course Materials

Faculty Bahviors Related to Course Materials Infographic