Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $8 million has been allocated for the Open Educational Resources Initiative at SUNY and CUNY, cutting the high cost of textbooks for students. For the second year in a row, the Governor is providing the Open Educational Resources funding to SUNY and CUNY, where book costs totaling as much as $1,200 a year can be prohibitive for students. OER offers freely available, high-quality books and other materials that can be downloaded, edited and shared.
"Higher education is a necessity for a middle class future, yet the rising costs of educational resources make it difficult for many students," Governor Cuomo said. "Through programs like the Excelsior Scholarship, the first-in-the-nation free college tuition program for students at SUNY and CUNY, and the OER initiative, we are providing important financial relief for many of our students and families, helping to make quality higher education accessible for all New Yorkers."
Through Open Educational Resources, New York State's public universities are changing the tools—and costs—of higher education in New York:
- In the current academic year, OER has replaced textbooks in more than 4,000 course sections with enrollments totaling nearly 100,000 students, saving more than a combined total of $12.3 million.
- The second year of state funding will expand the reach of OER to nearly 8,000 additional course sections with enrollments totaling 175,000 students.
- By the end of the Spring 2019 semester, the initiative will have covered 260,000 students for a total savings of more than $28 million.
"Every person should have the opportunity to pursue higher education without the burden of high costs for tuition and resources needed in the classroom," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "We're committed to making college more affordable for students and their families. This funding will continue to provide financial relief and give students the tools they need to succeed in college and beyond."
SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "The use of OER throughout SUNY holds the promise of significant financial savings for our students while also empowering our faculty to provide a more individualized student experience with customizable content. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we continue to make college more accessible and affordable. SUNY is excited about the opportunity this tool represents for students and faculty throughout the state. Thank you to the librarians and staff throughout SUNY and CUNY who have made this important project a reality."
William C. Thompson, Jr., chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees, said, "Forty percent of CUNY's students come from households with annual incomes of less than $20,000. Spending $1,200 a year on books is simply not an option for them. Studies have shown that students choose not to register for courses with high textbook and materials costs and, as a result, may not pursue majors like the sciences that require expensive texts. The Governor's continued investment in OER provides a critical support to economically disadvantaged students and removes a longstanding barrier to access, equity and excellence in higher education."
CUNY and SUNY have worked both collaboratively and separately to develop and implement the OER initiative as an element of the state's broad efforts to make public higher education in the state more affordable. The two university systems recently launched a joint website, Open.NYS, to assist faculty, librarians and instructional designers in making the switch to cost-free books and materials. Created with funding from the FY 2018 state budget, the site is designed to support Governor Cuomo's call for greater college affordability, providing a one-stop resource for educators who are switching to open resources that they can customize for their students.