Low Cost Course Materials

Low Cost Course Materials

Low cost course materials can be described as and delivered in many ways and formats including but not limited to:

Immediate Access Programs

Immediate Access Programs are section-specific faculty chosen programs for a section of a course that allow students to have access to their digital course materials on the first day of class at no cost through typically the add/drop date.  Students make the choice of whether to purchase the digital content or opt out and purchase their course materials elsewhere. Digital textbooks in these programs may be discounted 60% percent or more from print rental and print purchase price or discounted up to 25%-60% from the already low digital rental price. Multiple CSU campuses have implemented similar but different Immediate Access programs. These programs require campus partners working together to establish and coordinate the program with multiple units on the campus and partnerships with publishers.

Jointly negotiated and delivered by faculty, departments, publishers, providers, and campus stores, Immediate Access offers a period (usually until add/drop date) of free access to LMS digitally delivered commercial learning content to enrolled students with a lower cost charge at the end of the free period. Students may opt out and not purchase the materials if they so choose.

All CSU campus bookstores have programs in place to deliver Immediate Access including First Day, IncludED, VitalSource, Verba, RedShelf and more.

Equitable Access / Flat-fee Programs

Flat-fee programs are designed to make access to course materials more equitable and affordable among students.  They implement an affordable standardized fee that covers all required materials for a course or set of courses, thereby reducing financial barriers to accessing these resources.

The programs are highlighted for the following benefits:

  • Ensuring that all students have access to the necessary course materials from the start of the semester, which is crucial for their academic success in their courses.
  • Saving students a significant amount on course materials compared to the traditional model of purchasing each item individually, which can vary widely in price.
  • Maintaining academic freedom for faculty who are not able to adopt or create zero cost course materials by supporting their students with course materials' selections at affordable costs.

Overall, the Equitable Access / Flat-fee Programs model aims to make course materials more accessible and affordable for students, thereby supporting their academic success by ensuring they have the necessary resources without the added stress of financial barriers.

Digital textbooks

Digital textbooks are an e-book intended to serve as a text for a class. Digital textbooks may also be known as e-Textbooks or e-texts. They can be as basic as a PDF version of a printed textbook. Many e-Textbooks today are interactive and offer the ability to access multimedia content including embedded videos and interactive presentations and hyperlinks. Testing, assessment tools and the ability to customize within the e-Textbooks are features that may be available as well. Digital e-Textbooks may provide improved access and offer a different or better learning experience for students with disabilities. High-contrast displays, or text to speech programs can provide visually impaired students access to content that a traditional print text could not.

Enhanced OER

Enhanced OER is an Open Educational Resource (OER) that has been enhanced/integrated and may include similar interactive capabilities as interactive e-Textbooks, such as the ability to access multimedia content including embedded videos and interactive presentations and hyperlinks. Testing, assessment tools and the ability to customize the OER content. Some vendors have adapted OER into more enhanced solutions which will include a fee.

Print Textbooks Used - Rental 

Print Textbooks Used - Rental are traditional print textbooks available for purchase in alternative ways. Used textbooks are traditionally priced at 25% off the new textbook price. Rental textbooks are typically priced at 25% to 40% off the new textbook price. Both used and rentals are limited to availability and often not in adequate supply.  Contact your Campus Bookstore for additional information.

Adaptive Learning; Platforms-Tools

Adaptive Learning; Platforms-Tools are innovative online learning systems-tools-products also known as online homework systems that use comprehensive online curriculum resources that personalizes the education experience, so you can achieve measurable learning outcomes, and enable collaborative learning.

Custom Course Readers-Materials-Textbooks

Custom Course Readers-Materials-Textbooks can include your own materials or works from other sources including articles, sections of books, images, graphs, open educational resources, quizzes or anything you require to teach your course. Custom Course Readers-Materials-Textbooks may be made available in print and may be made available in digital format which allows for the inclusion of audio, video, and hyperlinks.  Custom textbooks (customized from a standard textbook) are offered by publishers at faculty request but are often priced higher due to lower unit sales nationwide.  Custom Course Readers, Materials and Textbooks all require copyright clearance and may be exceptionally impacted by copyright fees. Review of estimated final cost should be verified before final decision of adoption. 

Low-Cost Showcases

Immediate Access Options. Set up a FREE trial period for your students!

Work with your bookstore's Course Materials Manager to organize "Immediate Access" to your preferred digital textbooks and for a significant student discount.

Campus Bookstores