The price of higher education is staggering, and the price of the educational materials that support it are no better: at Rutgers University, students spend an average of $1,500 a year on textbooks and course materials alone. Publishers are constantly implementing new methods to jack up prices, from using expensive online passcodes to creating costly special editions that make purchasing of used books a hassle. These tactics leave students trapped, with textbook prices rising four times as fast as the rate of inflation.

Rental programs and used book editions can alleviate this problem, but a new approach is needed to create a long-lasting difference. Luckily, NJPIRG has won real change with our Open Textbooks campaign, which focuses on the cost-saving power of open source textbooks. Open textbooks are just like regular textbooks--written by professors and peer reviewed--except published under an open license, making them free online and available to low or no cost for all! In February 2016, the President of Rutgers University agreed to fund a $12,000 grant program to encourage Rutgers faculty to adopt open textbooks in their classes. This program could save millions of dollars for students in the coming years.

Professors and Graduate students: Find out more information on the Open & Affordable Textbooks (OAT) Project at Rutgers University or apply for the grant here.

Get involved with the textbooks campaign: This semester we’re looking for people who are passionate about affordable education and policy savvy to join our textbooks team.

Our work to establish a successful Open Textbooks Pilot Program would not be possible without the support of the Rutgers University Libraries and the OAT Grant Implementation Committee. We’re proud to be working with a team as dedicated to the future of open education as they are.