The cost of textbooks can be a burden to students to the point where they delay buying them or do not buy them at all.
The Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) program, launched by the CSU Chancellor’s Office following the College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015, works to help students across the CSU system access affordable, convenient and high-quality textbook options.
AL$ promotes the use of low-cost or free course materials to reduce the financial burden on students. The program also provides faculty with professional development support and grants to adopt high-quality and affordable course materials.
Since 2016, AL$ has saved CSUN students more than $1 million in textbooks, according to AL$ co-coordinator Lindsay Brown.
In a survey of CSUN students who participate in AL$, nearly 70 percent said they delay buying their required course textbooks due to the cost, and 35 percent of students do not buy the textbooks at all.
“The idea of completely reworking curriculum and course materials may be overwhelming for faculty members. We are here to help, and the main goal is to connect students with the best course materials,” Brown said.
The AL$ coordinators at CSUN said they hope more faculty will participate in the initiative. The initiative promotes cost-saving solutions such as digital Course Reserves at the Oviatt Library, OER (open educational resources), the Immediate Access Program (myCSUNDigitalAccess) at the CSUN Campus Store, and digital content such as Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal articles linked to Canvas from the Oviatt.
Faculty who want to join the AL$ initiative may be eligible for grants. Previous AL$ awardees come from more than 20 departments. Many faculty participants noted the positive impact of adopting affordable materials on student learning and the advantages of OER in providing students with a more engaging learning experience.
Currently, the AL$ team is coordinating efforts with the Oviatt Library, the CSUN Campus Store, Disability Resources and Educational Services, and Admission and Records to provide transparent textbook information to students by highlighting zero-cost text courses with a special icon in Class Search.
“CSUN faculty work very hard to help students succeed in their courses,” said Yi Ding, AL$ co-coordinator. “We can all work together to think of different ways we can make a course more affordable without compromising on quality.”