Nearly 1.5 million college students to use free textbooks this school year

August 10, 2017 by David Ruth, Rice University
Credit: Rice University

Nearly 1.5 million U.S. college students are expected to save an estimated $145 million in the 2017-18 academic year by using free textbooks from OpenStax, the Rice University-based publisher of open education resource materials.

"The adoption of OpenStax nationally is taking hold and saving students and families money," said Daniel Williamson, managing director of OpenStax. "Individual faculty as well as institutions can make tremendous gains in affordability by using OpenStax textbooks."

OpenStax projects this year's savings to be nearly double last year's impact on students' wallets. Since 2012 OpenStax has saved nearly 3.5 million students more than $340 million by offering 29 textbooks for the most-attended college courses. The free, peer-reviewed, openly licensed books include College Physics, Biology, Concepts of Biology, University Physics, Principles of Microeconomics, Psychology, American Government and College Algebra, among others.

By this fall more than 11,000 faculty members at 4,200 universities or colleges will have adopted OpenStax textbooks for 8,500 courses.

"Free, peer-reviewed and openly licensed textbooks used at scale are only the first step," Williamson said. "Quality, openly licensed content enables further innovation in ways that we've already seen: faculty are localizing it to meet their needs and building communities of practice, and partner companies are using it to build the next generation of adaptive learning tools. And yet, there are more opportunities to innovate and improve learning with OpenStax that are still to be discovered or explored. This promise of innovation is the real value of OpenStax."

OpenStax is committed to improving access to quality learning materials. As a nonprofit education technology initiative that is supported by philanthropic foundations, OpenStax also provides Advanced Placement textbooks that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators along with low-cost, personalized courseware that helps students learn. OpenStax expects to meet or beat its goal of saving U.S. college students $500 million by 2020.

Explore further: OpenStax developing textbooks that deliver personalized lessons

More information: For more information, visit

Related Stories

Turning textbook highlighting into time well-spent

August 18, 2016

College students love highlighting textbook passages while they study, and a team of researchers in three states will apply the latest techniques from machine learning and cognitive science to help turn that habit into time ...

Open-source textbooks gain in push for college affordability

February 11, 2016

The standard textbook for Fundamentals of General Chemistry I at the University of Connecticut has a list price of $303. For students who use the version professor Edward Neth is preparing for the fall semester, the cost ...

Recommended for you

Solving the mystery of an unusual medieval text

July 20, 2018

When historian Rowan Dorin first stepped onto the Stanford campus in early 2017, he made it a habit to visit Green Library every week to dig through its collection of medieval documents and objects.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.