Reporting Affordable Textbooks

Using open educational resources or other affordable textbooks? Report them to increase transparency for students during registration.

Why report
affordable textbooks?

You've already taken a big step to reduce the costs of attending UTSA by choosing affordable textbooks. Reporting your course improves transparency for our students, many of whom are First-Gen and a sizeable percentage are also Pell-eligible.

FAQ: Reporting Affordable Textbooks Report Your Affordable Textbooks Now

Open Educational Resources as Defined by the Texas Education Code

"…teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that allows for free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others, including full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” (Texas Senate Bill 810 2017 and TEC 51.542). OER textbooks, like those from OpenStax and Open Textbook Library, are free for students with no associated fees and have a Creative Commons or a Public Domain license."

Every Dollar Makes a Difference for Our Students

Low cost textbook courseProviding learning materials that are free and accessible from Class Day One has positive effects on equity, learning, and retention as demonstrated by the University of Georgia study.

Reporting also makes it easier for students to find your course during registration. When registering for courses, students can apply the Low Cost Textbook Filter in the UTSA course search.

Removing and Reducing Barriers to Success

Read More: Peer-Reviewed Research on Affordable Textbooks

The UTSA Libraries has surveyed thousands of UTSA students enrolled in courses awarded through the UTSA Libraries' Adopt-a-Free-Textbook Program. Our students are reporting that they are engaged with these materials. More than 85% have rated these affordable textbooks as either superior or equivalent to commercial textbooks in preparing for tests, accessibility, ease of use, and content quality.

Equity in Access

In addition to reducing financial strains, affordable textbooks improve equity in access by either removing or reducing the financial barrier inherent with commercial textbooks.

Read the Inside Higher Ed article "Free Digital Textbooks vs. Purchased Commercial Textbooks" to learn more.

Texas Legislation: Open Educational Resources

In 2017, SB 810 was signed by Governor Abbott that requires tracking by institutions of higher education using open educational resources. That bill has now become a part of the Texas Education Code: Sec.51.542.

TEC, 51.542 supports OER by requiring statutory changes related to course listings and textbooks, and reasonable efforts to disseminate information to students regarding courses using OER: TEC 51.542.

What is Considered "Affordable?"

An affordable course is defined at UTSA as a course that uses only required textbooks with a combined total purchase price of $40 or less per student per course.


  • Open access: free, publicly accessible resources that may be copyright-protected. Examples: YouTube videos, freely accessible websites, etc.
  • Online resources from the UTSA Libraries: e-books, streaming videos, etc. that are no additional cost and available to students remotely.
  • A collection of resources from copyright-protected books that are provided to students at no cost by applying fair use:  no more than 20% of each resource is used at any given point through the semester. Example: chapters from different print books scanned and made available to your students in Blackboard.
  • Learning resources that are copyright-protected that cost $40 or less. Example: a required novel or several required novels for a literature course with a combined total purchase price of $40 or less.

Why are instructors urged to report affordable textbooks as well as OER?

While OER provide more benefits when compared to affordable textbooks, the OER landscape is sparse in some disciplines: there may not be OER available for your course even though you might like to use them to help with affordability.

We appreciate faculty efforts to help students with affordability and access, and the next step is providing transparency for our students looking for courses using affordable textbooks, including OER.

Who can report?

  • the instructor of record
  • the course coordinator
  • the department admin or chair

Which courses should be reported?

  • single courses using affordable textbooks
  • courses with department-wide affordable textbook adoption



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