College is expensive, students must budget for tuition, housing, meal plans, and course materials costs. While the first three are usually fixed, course materials change from term to term, making financial planning for textbooks and assigned materials nearly impossible for students. Students must often wait until the syllabus is available, which is sometimes not the case until the first day of classes. This is vital information for students financial and academic planning, students should have this information available before they register for a course so they can accurately plan. 

Unfortunately, disclosing textbook costs to students before course registration is not universal. All students deserve the ability to financially plan and make informed decisions about their education. Many states and campuses have found creative and helpful solutions from state legislation like Washington’s law which requires community colleges and technical schools disclose textbook costs to students during registration. Individual campuses have also taken positive steps – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill implemented a feature that allows faculty to add textbook costs, syllabi, and other helpful information. Some campuses mark classes on the registration page that are zero-cost or low-cost, to help students find courses within their budget. 

Students need the tools to financially plan and prepare for the term ahead; states, systems, and campuses should support students by making vital information available to them to do so. 

Related Resources

Automatic Billing Resources for Students

Students should have a say in how they purchase their textbooks and course materials. From lawsuits to testifying before statehouses, students are standing up to say no to automatic textbook billing. Here are some resources to get you started. Automatic Billing FAQ Automatic Billing 101 Report Student Petition Student Government Resolution ← Back to Resources for Students

Price Transparency

Course material costs can be significant. Students need this information before they register for classes in order to financially plan for their term. Student leaders have played key roles in advocating for textbook price transparency in campuses across the country. These resources can help you get started. Price Transparency FAQ Student Government Resolution Student Petition ← Back to Resources for Students

Automatic Billing Resources for Faculty and Administrators

Faculty and staff are often the first to raise questions around the ethics and practicalities that surround automatic textbook billing. Faculty have increasingly voiced concerns over potential threats to academic freedom, student data privacy, and the long term implications of these deals. If your campus is considering an automatic textbook billing deal, these resources can help you make sure educators and students are getting the best possible outcome.  Automatic Billing FAQ Automatic Billing 101 Report Guiding Questions for Course Materials Programs and Adoptions Faculty Senate Resolution ← Back to Resources for Faculty and Administrators

Open Textbooks Resources for Students

Ready to start taking action to bring free open textbooks and open educational resources to your campus? Students have always played a key role in promoting the adoption of open materials and winning policies that help faculty make the switch to open. Many open textbook programs were developed because faculty and administrators listened to student voices on their campuses. Here are some tools to help you use your voice to bring down textbook costs at your institution. Open Textbooks FAQ Open Textbook Toolkit Student Government Resolution ← Back to Resources for Students