Affordable Textbooks & Course Materials

W&M undergraduates spend an average of $400-$500 per semester on textbooks and course materials. This cost can be a financial burden, and for some students are barriers to success.  Textbook and course materials affordability issue must be addressed on many fronts.  W&M Libraries' Statement on Textbooks provides faculty insight on the textbook industry and how W&M Libraries may assist faculty with textbook alternatives.  In August 2019, a Textbook Affordability Taskforce composed of W&M faculty, staff, and students was formed and charged with examining the issue of textbook and course materials costs on campus, it released its final report in February 2020. 

Read the full reports from the Task Force and the Student Textbook survey:

Highlights from the reports are shared below:

Key Findings:

  • More than a third of respondents said they did not buy a required textbook because of the cost
  • 12% reported not registering for a course because of textbook costs
  • 8% had dropped a course
  • 35% said that financial aid did not cover any of their textbook costs 
  • Both faculty and students are concerned about the high costs of textbooks and course materials.


W&M students share their experiences on cost of textbooks and materials.

    Task Force Recommendations

    1. Increase compliance with deadlines for reporting textbook adoptions to the bookstore.

    2. Standardize a means for students to report to instructors their usage of required materials.
    3. Promote cultural change at W&M by raising faculty awareness of the repercussions of high course materials costs and outreach to faculty on strategies to reduce student costs, including use of OER.
    4. Provide additional support for OER from STLI and W&M Libraries.
    5. Offer funding for instructors to use and/or produce and share OER books and course materials.
    6. Offer financial support for course materials to students most vulnerable to adverse outcomes.
    7. Offer support for web-based and physical locations for used textbook exchanges.

    Implementation suggestions from the Task Force:

    1. Educate instructors about the importance of adoption deadlines, the importance of data collection on the value of course materials to students, and the benefits of OER, text-free courses, or older editions.
    2. Increase funding and staff support for applications of OER.
    3. Provide resources for a textbook exchange and additional financial support for vulnerable students.


    Formal actions on the recommendations and implementations are on hold as the University adjusts to COVID operations.