On average, college students spend between $600 and $1,400 on textbooks each year, according to the College Board. These costs contribute to mounting student debt and cause some students to take longer than four years to graduate.
FIU has put in place a number of measures to help students manage costs and graduate on time, including some specifically aimed at reducing the cost of books.
The latest is FIU’s partnership with OpenStax Institutional Partnership Programs, which encourages the creation and use of free, peer-reviewed, open source textbooks. FIU is one of 11 universities invited to participate in this strategic partnership in 2017-2018, which provides consulting services and technical support to improve and augment FIU’s open educational resources, while making them available to students elsewhere.
“At FIU we are concerned about costs because so many of our students are first generation college students and come from families of modest means,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “OpenStax is providing us a new way to help our students – and others around the state and country – get a high quality education that is also cost-effective.”
Last July, FIU Online launched an initiative to recognize faculty who are looking to reduce the cost of course materials for students. Affordability Counts currently has awarded 103 professors teaching 150 courses with the Affordability Counts Medallion, which is granted to professors that have selected course materials costing $60 or less.
“Providing affordable course materials in a sustainable way is a top priority for us,” said Interim Assistant Vice President for FIU Online Joseph Riquelme, who chairs the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC) Council on Distance Learning and Student Services. “The OpenStax program complements our Affordability Counts Initiative by scaling our capacity to adopt open educational resources campus-wide.”
Affordability Counts is being piloted by FIU and will be shared with FLVC members across the state. In addition, FIU has created the FIU Textbook Affordability Task Force, led by the Office of the Provost. The task force has spearheaded FIU’s institution-wide efforts to find and create initiatives that make higher education more affordable. By reducing textbook and other instructional material costs, FIU minimizes financial hurdles and helps students progress to timely graduation.