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Affordable Learning Upstate: Affordable and Open Educational Resources

What is Affordable Learning?

Affordable Learning seeks to minimize the costs of textbooks and other course materials for students by using no-cost or low-cost resources.

Affordable Learning relies on three types of resources:

1) Library resources licensed and provided free of charge.

2) Open Education Resources (OER) - teaching, learning, and research resources that are free to access and also carry legal permission of open use. They are available in a multitude of formats, including textbooks, full courses, modules, videos, labs, assignments, and assessments published under Creative Commons licenses .

3) Free web resources, including many trade publications, government documents, and works in the public domain.

In addition, the Upstate Bookstore offers several ways to mitigate the cost of conventionally-published textbooks: renting new books, renting or buying used books, a price comparison guide where students can find the best deals, and helping faculty set up "inclusive access" arrangements with publishers.

No-cost and Low-cost Courses

A recent analysis of course materials costs and the student success rate suggests that no-cost and low-cost course materials increase the student success rate for Upstate students by 3%-4%! The Affordable Learning Upstate Advisory Committee recommends that faculty consider adopting course materials that are no-cost or low-cost to students whenever possible. No-cost courses have no costs for required course materials such as textbooks and homework platforms. Required course materials costs for low-cost courses are $50 or less. In both cases special course fees such as lab fees or fees for special kinds of materials are exempt from these definitions. Still, we encourage faculty to report all fees and types of required course materials to the bookstore so that students can see the true cost of each course.

Chart showing DFW, retention and GPA after 2021 unit competition