UTM Textbook Affordability

UTM is committed to minimizing the rising costs of textbooks. Faculty carefully consider the appropriateness of textbooks and other supplemental materials, the cost to students, and factors that determine the cost. State and federal legislation mandate that faculty strive for maximum use and minimal cost of instructional materials to alleviate the economic burden on students. The UTM Textbook Affordability Leadership Team was created to support and lead this initiative.


The mission of the Affordability Leadership Team is to support textbook affordability/OER development and communicate with campus faculty groups (faculty senate, curriculum committee, academic department faculty meetings, etc.), facilitating content and pedagogical best practices, and developing training activities. We are dedicated to implementing strategies to ensure our students are aware of existing campus resources and strive to develop ideas for additional services deemed necessary for an affordable education here at UTM.

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Additional Information and Resources


The Textbook Affordability Leadership Team was established in 2020 and consists of staff, faculty, and student representatives from a variety of departments throughout the University. Members:

Dr. Ben Guyer, Lecturer of History

Erica Bell, Director of Regional Centers and Online Programs

Hunter McCloud, SGA President

Dr. Robert Nanney, Professor and Chairman of Communications

Dr. Saman Sargolzaei, Assistant Professor of Engineering

To contact the team, please email utmoer@listserv.utm.edu

Why It Matters

Textbook prices have risen significantly over the past 20 years, over 80% since the mid 2000s, according to multiple reports. Although the increase in textbook prices has slowed more recently, textbook costs remain a significant burden to students. The Office of Financial Aid estimates required course materials will cost undergraduates $1,400 each year.

Cost is a primary factor in student decision making. Studies continue to report that over half of students have skipped buying required textbooks for financial reasons, and are worried it could hurt their academic performance.

Affordability works! There is a growing body of research on the efficacy of use of Open Educational Resources (OER). A recent study in Georgia showed that adoption of OER resulted in higher average grades and lower number of D’s, F’s and withdrawals. The positive effects of adopting low-cost resources resulted in more pronounced effects for at-risk and historically underserved groups.

Affordable Textbook Materials are a national priority. The SPARC State Policy Tracker reports on the myriad measures that states have considered or adopted related to OER legislation in recent years. The reasons for these initiatives vary, but some major factors are:

  • Saving students money.
  • Improving educational outcomes.
  • Raising awareness of and supporting open access publishing within academia.

Students love affordable textbook materials:

  • loved not having to buy a book that is over priced and used once."
  • "Loved that this class did not cost me any extra money!"
  • "I wish all classes were like this."
  • "This is a very good thing that all the schools need to be using. It will not only keep the student’s costs down, but it is environmentally friendly as well"

Open Textbooks and Course Materials

Faculty looking to explore the wide range of Open Educational Resources may find the following OER collections helpful:

  • Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS), developed by SUNY Geneseo searches materials across 100+ OER sites
  • OER Commons, global OER initiative searches 50,000+ curated, high-quality OERs
  • OpenStax, a part of Rice University, publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, OER textbooks for most lower-division course areas complete with ancillary materials.
  • Lumen Learning , offers easily adaptable OER course materials for 50+ courses.
  • Open Textbook Library , open textbooks are licensed by authors and publishers to be freely used and adapted.
Development of Open Educational Resources

If interested in developing Open Educational Resources (OER), please contact Erica Bell at ebell3@utm.edu.

UTM Textbook Affordability
Erica Bell, Director of Regional Centers and Online Programs
110 Gooch Hall
The University of Tennessee at Martin
Martin, TN 38238