The cost of textbooks has risen disproportionately in recent years. More so than tuition and living expenses, textbooks have become less affordable — sometimes even influencing which subject areas students choose to study.
In an effort to bolster student success, the University of South Florida launched the Textbook Affordability Project in 2010. Popularly known as ‘TAP,’ the initiative aims to approach the problem of textbook affordability and access from multiple angles. Efforts include connecting students with news and options for gaining access to textbooks, fostering faculty development of open access textbooks that are free for students to use, securing copies of high-demand textbooks and lending them for three hours at a time within the library, and working with faculty to cull course materials from existing library collections, which poses no additional cost to USF students.
One element of the project, Textbooks on Course Reserve, offers financially challenged students an alternative to buying expensive textbooks. Copies of printed textbooks are purchased or donated and placed on reserve in the USF Tampa Library for students to come in and use. Students we have spoken with estimate that this one component of the Textbook Affordability Project has saved them anywhere from $350 to over $5,000.
“I think this is a wonderful program. I wish other universities did it. This is one of the reasons I decided to come to USF.”
-Sabrina, majoring in Civil Engineering and Mathematics
“It’s really helped me personally. I haven’t been able to afford textbooks. They are very expensive, especially in the sciences.”
-Grace, Biomedical Sciences major and USF Green and Gold Tour Guide
Another way the USF Textbook Affordability Project is addressing the gap between the desire to learn and the budget to do so is through open access textbooks, which are available online and free for all to use. Some of the open access textbooks hosted by USF are incredibly popular, with over 200,000 downloads. The first fully USF-sponsored open access textbook is a partnership between USF Innovative Education and the USF Libraries. Dr. Jenifer Schneider, associate professor in literacy studies, was chosen to author the online educational resource that includes rich multimedia content while also providing cost savings for the 400 students that take her course each year. Dr. Schneider sees this kind of work as an opportunity for faculty to create the kind of tailored material that best serves their students.
“When the opportunity arose, it was a perfect match for this kind of content. The book I had been using is very expensive and is not a great match in terms of content.”
-Dr. Jenifer Schneider, USF Associate Professor in Literacy Studies
The numbers on are in, and the savings are newsworthy. See for yourself – ROI graphs and executive summaries are in our Textbook Affordability Impact Brief.
How can you help ensure this kind of far-reaching student support continues? Contact the USF Libraries Office of Development at (813) 974-4433 to discuss your contribution.