Reducing Financial Strain on Students for Textbook Costs

September 21, 2021

The Problem

Affording textbooks can be difficult for Baylor students. In February of 2021, Dr. Coretta Pittman’s Professional Writing class administered a student survey on textbook costs. The results also indicated that the average amount of money students pay for books each semester is approximately $340.00, which puts a significant strain on our lower-income students. Further, from the course-based perspective, the cost of textbooks adds up very quickly. For example, this semester, in two of the most common 1,000-level courses that first-year students take, the total cost of textbooks (based on the number of students enrolled and the price of each book) adds up to more than $400,000.00. Unfortunately, the challenge of affording books is a matter that has not yet been addressed very well at Baylor as an institution, but with your help, textbooks can be made more affordable for Baylor students.

Resources

Currently, there are a few resources available to make textbooks available and more affordable to students; however, the ones Baylor does have are useful for those who are aware of them. These consist of:

  • The Baylor Shields Textbook Lending Library for veterans and first-generation college students located in Sid Richardson,
  • Faculty copies of textbook placed on reserves in Moody Library (Course Reserves | University Libraries), and
  • Through one-on-one coaching and online tools, the Student Financial Literacy Program helps students find affordable resources, including textbooks, and plan for upcoming expenses.

Dean of Libraries Jeffry Archer and others have organized information and resources for Baylor faculty to assist with identifying Open Educational Resource Textbooks:

  • Resource Guide for OERs from the University Libraries
  • Academy for Teaching and Learning on November 19, 2021 will be hosting a panel featuring current faculty who have used OER in their classrooms.
  • Openstax (Rice University) has the most fully developed peer-reviewed OER Textbooks platform for core subjects for freshman/sophomore levels, including ancillary materials for instructors.
  • Resource Guide to replace commercial textbooks with online library journals, books, and primary sources using “Reading Lists” function in Canvas
  • Contact your liaison librarian for assistance with identifying OER or library materials to replace commercially produced course material: https://researchguides.baylor.edu/subjectliaisonlibrarians
  • Textbook Affordability Faculty Fellowship program is being established with the $2000-$5000 awards for summer of 2022.  The program financially supports the work of faculty who desire to adopt Open Educational Resources and/or Library Resources in place of commercial textbooks for course materials.  Look for information early in the Spring Semester for the application process.  

Conclusion

The faculty at Baylor University have an extraordinary commitment to the students they teach, caring for students’ lives and wellbeing rather than just their academic success. Baylor provides some ways for students to access textbooks they might need, but more can be done with your help because even with knowledge of current resources, many students do not have affordable access to the textbooks they need. It would be greatly appreciated if you would inform your students of the resources available, be conscientious of the difficulty purchasing textbooks can be for students, and consider opportunities to shift toward lower-cost textbook options in the future.

 

Dr. Coretta Pittman
on behalf of the Faculty Senate

Dean Jeffry Archer
on behalf of University Libraries

Dr. Lenore Wright
on behalf of the Academy for Teaching and Learning

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