Innovating So Students Save Money on Textbooks

Photo provided by Oregon State University

Students at Oregon State spend on average almost $2,000 per year for textbooks, according to the OSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Due to the high cost of textbooks, students sometimes choose not to purchase a book even though they realize that this may result in a poorer grade in the course. Others decline to register for a course due to the high cost of textbooks for that class. In these instances, the high cost of textbooks interferes with student success.

Realizing the burden that high-cost textbooks place on our students, librarian Maura Valentino decided to look for innovations and funding to reduce these textbook costs.

In the spring of 2015, she applied for and was awarded $10,000 from the OSU Women’s Giving Circle to subsequently give 10 $1,000 grants to OSU faculty members to replace expensive textbooks for their courses and use free resources instead. These $1,000 mini-grants partially reimburse faculty for the extra time necessary to replace their required expensive textbook.

Simply replacing 10 textbook titles saved our students more than $500,000 over what it would have cost previously for each student to purchase a copy of the original textbook.

This project led to another where the list of required textbooks for the university is checked against the library’s electronic book holdings. This project began in the winter of 2016. Over three quarters, library faculty and staff have found 362 e-books with unlimited licenses that allow multiple students to access a book simultaneously. This project saved students $750,000 over what it would have cost in the past for each student to purchase a copy of the book that is available for free in the library.

This project led to a second grant, this time from Ecampus (OSU’s online degrees and programs), for $10,000 to purchase some of the required books that are used in their online courses. With these funds, another 50 e-books were purchased and saved students an estimated $65,000. Books were found for all 11 colleges at OSU.

These creative innovations have saved OSU students an estimated $1.3 million so far. And these savings will continue. Both the OSU Women’s Giving Circle grant and the Ecampus grant have been renewed for the 2016-17 academic year, so students will save even more from these new ways to access textbooks. Professor Valentino continues to seek funding to purchase books for courses taught on campus in order to make college more affordable for OSU students and to allow them to afford a wider option of courses.

From The Messenger, the publication of Oregon State University Libraries and Press

in grant money including support from the Women's Giving Circle


saved for students


books found


book titles purchased


students helped


colleges engaged