Textbook Affordability at UMD

Overview of Issues

The University of Maryland estimates students spend an average of $1,130 on books and supplies per year. Textbook prices have risen a whopping 186% since 1998, and these increasing prices have affected our student’s ability to learn. Forty-eight percent of students reported that textbook prices affected which/how many classes they took, and 65% of students said they’ve skipped a book. Of those students, 94% said they were concerned it would hurt their grade. The Student Government Association and University Libraries are working to ease the burden on students with textbook affordability initiatives.

Selecting Textbooks and Costs

Selecting textbooks and other resources for classes is a key responsibility of faculty, and picking the ones that match the instructor's goals and help students learn is a challenging task. But price is rarely considered in this decision making process. The goal of this site is to help students and faculty alike understand the importance of and process for considering price as one factor in selecting textbooks. Reducing price, sometimes all the way to $0, can improve quality, equity and student learning, as supported by the research of Robinson, Fischer, Wiley, and Hilton (2014).  So read on, and learn how to make this happen!

Open Textbook Network

The University of Maryland Libraries is also a member of the Open Textbook Network (OTN), an alliance of higher education institutions working to improve access, affordability and academic success using open textbooks. Hundreds of open textbooks are available through the network’s online library that can be downloaded for no cost or printed at low cost. As a member of OTN, the UMD Libraries is offering workshops where faculty can receive an incentive for writing a review of an existing open textbook in their field. Contact oer@umd.edu for more information about the workshops.

MOST Initiative

The Maryland Open Source Textbook (MOST) initiative began in August 2013 as a collaboration between the University System of Maryland Student Council (USMSC) and the University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation (CAI) to address the root of textbook affordability problems and explore affordable options. MOST provides mini-grants to faculty who redesign and incorporate open educational resources into their courses. Between spring 2014 and fall 2016, the project involved faculty teaching 61 different courses at 14 public institutions across Maryland, saving over 3,500 students almost $525,000 on textbooks. Faculty interested in learning more about the MOST initiative and related grant programs should contact cai@usmd.edu.