UTEP’s Low-Cost and No-Cost Textbook Courses Help Students Save Money Next Semester
Just in time to register for the spring 2023 semester, students such as Lizbeth Flores Acosta at The University of Texas at El Paso can save money on textbooks through UTEP’s Open Education Resources, or OER.
During registration, undergraduate and graduate students can search for courses on Goldmine that use free textbooks or require all books to total less than $40, helping Miners manage their budgets for the upcoming semester.
“I think this is a great tool to have, especially for new students who start at the University and don’t know how much money they will spend on books!” Flores, a fifth-semester nursing student, said. “Books are expensive. This tool can help you decide which classes to take to save some money and stay within your budget.”
The process is easy. First, students select the term they are registering for in Goldmine. They click on “Advanced Search” and scroll down to the “Attribute Type” section, where they can choose “Low-Cost Textbooks” for classes with course materials totaling $40 or less or “Zero-Cost Textbooks” for courses that do not require textbook purchases.
Tessy Torres, OER librarian at UTEP, estimates that the University offers about 200 low-cost sections and approximately 120 zero-cost sections.
"Our culture of care promotes a sense of belonging and community throughout students' careers at UTEP," Torres said. "By highlighting zero and low-cost materials, we support this mission by reducing cost as a barrier to higher education."
According to a College Board survey, the average full-time on-campus undergraduate student at a four-year university spent approximately $1,240 on books and supplies in 2021. A study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that 66% of students skipped buying or renting course materials altogether in college, with 63% skipping textbook purchasing precisely because of the high cost of books.
“We know that access to course materials on the first day of class can directly impact student success,” Torres said. “We hope that making this low-cost and no-cost textbook feature searchable in the registration process helps students budget accordingly and can alleviate financial stress and improve grades.”
UTEP’s Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs works with faculty to adopt or create free OER textbooks as the primary textbooks in their courses.
OER are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.
Making classes more affordable, especially for students who pay their own way through college or rely on grants or scholarships to fund their education, is a priority for Teresa Quezada, Ph.D. assistant professor of instruction in the English Department.
“First of all, Texas universities and faculty have a responsibility to evaluate their teaching materials and identify courses that are low or no cost,” said Quezada, director of UTEP’s Technical and Professional Writing Certificate (TPW) Program. “But more importantly, as a Hispanic-serving University, I believe that managing our students’ textbook costs is vitally important.”
Not all the classes that Quezada teaches use low-cost or no-cost textbooks. Quezada said she is careful about curating the materials she selects for courses because she continues to focus on the learning objectives and wants to ensure that her students have access to quality materials and resources to help them meet those learning objectives.
However, she is encouraging the other core faculty in the online TPW program to shift to low or no-cost materials for the entire program by the spring 2023 semester.
“This program is designed for mid-level professionals who wish to enrich their writing skills, and thus managing textbook costs and embedding low or no-cost materials in courses will benefit these students,” she said. “Embedding course materials in the online course allows students first-day access to the assigned materials.”
For information on searching for classes with zero- or low-cost materials, visit libguides.utep.edu/coursemarkings.
Last Updated on October 20, 2022 at 12:00 AM | Originally published October 20, 2022
By Laura L. Acosta UTEP Marketing and Communications