Resources for Students


Why Focus on Textbooks?

While textbook costs might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the cost of attending college, it is often the final stumbling block for students who don't expect the additional costs. Second, textbook costs are something we can make an impact on right now. And finally: textbook costs are still a big problem.

The cost of textbooks has risen more than four times the rate of inflation over the past decade. As these books are becoming more expensive, the things you buy are also becoming less permanent. More often than not, students are being forced to purchase short-term access codes or rentals rather than books you can keep and refer to in the future.

Open Educational Resources (OER) can help. OER are free textbooks, lab books, or other course materials that you can access online. If you prefer print, you can buy a print copy of an open textbook at a low cost (typically less than $50), but the digital copy is always free. 

There are also OER made for students by students! Check out "A Student-Generated Handbook for the First Year of College" for one great example. 

Want to learn more? Check out the resources below: 

OER Advocacy video thumbnailWhat Can I Do?

  1. Ask your professors if they know about or would be willing to use Open Educational Resources in their classes.
  2. Share this information with other students who might need it! OER can make great study materials as well. Use our Find an OER page to look up resources that you could use in class. 
  3. Talk to us! Share your stories about textbook affordability and why this topic matters to you! 
  4. Watch the video linked on the right for more information.
  5. If you have an idea about how to increase OER use at ISU, contact us! We want to work with you.


How Else is OAEC Helping Students?

The Open & Affordable Education Committee enables interested faculty to locate and adopt more affordable, quality educational content for our students. By reducing course material expenses, more students acquire the course materials they need to succeed and benefit from the ISU learning experience. ISU faculty and students have greater access to quality free and low-cost learning materials through a variety of OAEC Affordability initiatives, like immediate access and course reserves.

You can learn more about these initiatives on our About Us page.

How do I see if my courses are using open or affordable resources?

Review your syllabus or your Booklist carefully to see what materials are required for your course:

  1. Is your course using an OER or other free textbook alternative?
    • Great!
  2. Is your course using an Immediate Access text?
  3. Is your class using a traditional textbook? You can get other affordable options through the ISU Book Store, such as:
    • Digital access codes and e-books
    • Used and new textbook rental
    • Used and looseleaf textbook purchase

If you have any questions about this information or if you'd like to talk to us about your experience coping with the cost of textbooks (good or bad!) please contact Abbey Elder, Open Access Librarian, at