Students at nine colleges and universities across the country have saved an estimated $1.5 million on textbook costs, primarily over the past year, thanks to the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Network (OTN), which offers online textbooks for free.
David Ernst (Ph.D. ’07), a national expert in open textbooks at the University’s College of Education and Human Development, created the OTN three years ago. “Open textbooks eliminate the cost barrier between students and their learning. These are real savings for students and their families,” Ernst says. This year, a U.S. college student will spend on average about $1,225 on books and supplies, an increase of more than 1,000 percent since 1977, according to the College Board, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to education. Currently, the University’s network of open textbook supporters includes 84 institutions in all, including the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.
Supporters of OTN estimate students and their families could save hundreds of millions of dollars if the programs are a success.