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This guide provides an overview of open educational resources (OER) and the impact OER adoption has on student success. It provides examples that focus on college affordability, perceptions of OER, and OER efficacy.

Introduction to Open Educational Resources

The Problem of Cost

The price of college textbooks increased 88% from January 2006 to July 2016. If we take a longer look back, the increase is even more startling. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a 1,041% percent increase from January 1977 to June 2015, which is over three times the rate of inflation. Data reported to College Board for 2016-17 show the average student should budget $1,230 - $1,390 for textbooks and course materials per year. 

Cost-Savings Solutions

One of the most common ways to measure the benefits of OER is in cost savings to students. Last year at Simon Fraser University, following a $45,000 investment by the university, students in 11 courses saved $230,000 in textbook costs as a result of an open education grant program. Likewise, Portland Community College has saved students nearly $90,000 per term by adopting OER and strives to save one million dollars by the fall of 2017. In its 2017 "Data Update," Affordable Learning Georgia reported saving 221,735 students 26.1 million dollars in textbook costs since the initiative's inception in 2014.

UTA Student Perspectives

A number of educators at UTA have already adopted open and affordable resources in their courses. Our Textbook Hero video series highlights their stories
Consumer price indexes for tuition  and school-related items, not seasonally adjusted, January 2006-July 2016


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 May 11, 2017).

A Reflective Question

As Hilton (2016) asks: “Because students and faculty members generally find that OER are comparable in quality to traditional learning resources, and that the use of OER does not appear to negatively influence student learning, one must question the value of traditional textbooks. If the average college student spends approximately $1,000 per year on textbooks and yet performs scholastically no better than the student who utilizes free OER, what exactly is being purchased with that $1,000?” Review OER research at