Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$)

Low Cost Course Materials

While zero cost options are ideal, they may not be readily available or work well for every course. If this is the case, faculty can consult with the bookstore to see if any of these options may decrease the cost of a course.

  • Rental. Consult with the Wildcat Store textbook team to identify the costs of rentals (print and/or digital).    
  • Digital Access. Consider e-books (aka e-Textbooks) instead of print. Many e-books may offer multimedia content (e.g. videos, hyperlinks) as well as assessment tools. 
  • Enhanced OER. Open Educational Resources (OER) that have been enhanced/integrated may include similar interactive capabilities as interactive e-Textbooks. Some vendors have adapted OER and made them available for a fee. See the AL$ Directory(opens in new window) for some of these providers.
  • Past edition. While an older edition text may be less expensive, you will want to consider the currency of the content as well as if the bookstore can purchase enough copies for your course. Sometimes the cost of past editions can be more expensive than current editions for this reason.
  • Select a less expensive (but still quality) textbook. For popular undergraduate courses there are many quality textbooks to choose from. Keep cost a significant factor in your decision making.  
  • Negotiate with the publisher for low-cost options or a discount. Sometimes individual faculty or departments can speak with publisher representatives to get an improved price on their textbook or have them provide a lower-cost option (e.g. a looseleaf or partial text).
  • Immediate Access Program. This provides all students in the course the digital content the first day of class at a highly discounted price. The cost is automatically added to student fees, and students who don’t want to participate must opt out by a given deadline. This program may be appropriate for courses where students must have the digital content in order to pass the course (e.g. required e-learning platforms with student assignments). This program is negotiated with the bookstore and publisher, and requires clear communication between the instructor and various campus partners to establish and coordinate the program, in addition to clear communication to students about Immediate Access.