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Affordable Learning Solutions

AL$ banner with Fresno State logo

Why It Matters

For our students...

  • The majority of them don’t buy a required text due to the cost, although they realize it will impact their grade negatively.
  • Textbook costs are cited as one of the top two reasons students drop out or don’t matriculate.
  • The cost of textbooks negatively impacts first generation students more than other students. They spend 17% more per textbook but acquire 6% fewer texts.
  • Busy students need and appreciate cost and format choices (online content, ebooks, print, rental), with affordability and ease of access being key factors.

For our faculty…

  • Affordable learning materials provide many ways to improve teaching and learning. On the most basic level, adopting no or low-cost materials INCREASES the chances your students will be able to acquire the course materials and be ready on the first day of class.  
  • Students who use OER in their undergraduate courses perform as well or better than those assigned commercial textbooks, and show higher rates of completion.
  • Six conglomerates control 86% of textbook production in the U.S. AL$ allows faculty to “take back” academic freedom.
  • When you adopt OER/Creative Commons licensed works, you’re free to edit, adapt, remix and reuse them, giving you full control over content, sequence and pace.
  • There are now over 1.8 billion Creative Commons-licensed works, providing a wide variety of free materials from which to innovate and customize your curriculum.
  • Offering your students open or low-cost materials specifically tailored to your curriculum- without the “fluff” can help motivate students to read.
  • Students are appreciative of faculty efforts to reduce textbook costs, and this can translate to a more positive attitude towards new teaching methods and other aspects of the course.
  • Attract students to your courses and discipline by offering a more equitable learning environment and student-centric culture.
  • Most digital learning materials are more accessible than traditional textbooks.

What is Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$)?

The AL$ initiative is a CSU Chancellor's program that enables faculty to choose and provide quality educational content that is more affordable for their students.The mission of this program is to make higher education more accessible to students by promoting the use of high-quality, free (OER) and low-costing learning materials.  

Every dollar counts for many students. If students cannot afford the assigned class materials, they may try to learn without them.

This means that students are not only choosing not to purchase the materials they are assigned by their professor, but they are knowingly accepting the risk of a lower grade to avoid paying for the textbook.  

 Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER PictureOpen Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials that are either licensed under an open copyright license, usually Creative Commons, or are in the public domain, such as Project Gutenberg.


Under both types you have free access and permission to:

  • revise: to better meet your needs
  • reuse: either the original or your revised version
  • remix: combine it with other materials
  • redistribute: make copies and share your new version with others

It is unlikely that you will find one OER that perfectly fits your needs and you'll need to do some digging, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the breadth, variety and quality of materials available. See OER tab to search/find OER materials.

Electronic Resources through the Library

The Library owns a variety of ebooks, and subscribes to databases that contain millions of scholarly articles. Utilizing these electronic resources would allow entire classes to have free access to their learning materials through the Library Catalog.

Fair Use Learning Materials

If you are only using a small portion of a text, you may be able to distribute it for educational purposes under "fair use." Fair use is a limitation of copyright law that allows for the partial reproduction of copyrighted works. Though, the line between fair use and copyright infringement is not always clear. For guidelines on when fair use is applicable, please visit this Copyright LibGuide.

Course Reserves

By placing textbooks on course reserve at the Library, students can opt to not purchase a textbook. While Course Reserves may not be ideal for every textbook, they are especially useful when only a small portion of a book will be used. Students can use the textbook free-of-charge in the Library, and not have to purchase a textbook.

Low-cost Textbooks (including CSU Rent Digital)

The average new textbook costs $68, with many textbooks costing upwards of $200. Although we do not have an exact formula for what determines a low-cost textbook, the main thing to consider is the textbook's price compared to equal-quality textbooks. Also, some textbooks can be rented for a substantial discount through the CSU Rent Digital program: CSU students can rent digital textbooks at 60% off the hardcopy publisher price. These textbooks are already widely-used, and advertising this option to students is our main goal.

Goal:  Aide faculty in replacing costly textbooks with lower cost alternatives by using Open Educational Resources (OER), Library materials, digital or customized textbooks, and/or faculty-authored materials.


  • Provide leadership and oversight on AL$ programs at Fresno State.
  • Raise awareness and create buy-in for AL$ at Fresno State.
  • Serve as campus contact for information on AL$.
  • Manage links to AL$ resources and showcase faculty actively participating in AL$.
  • Serve as the campus contact/partner for CSU-wide and Chancellor’s Office initiated AL$ efforts.

The campus partners for this initiative are: The Library, Center for Faculty Excellence, Kennel Bookstore and Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) and a member-at-large from adopting faculty.

Great! We'd love to highlight what you've done in our Faculty Showcase.

Contact Bryan Berrett ( for more information.