Students within the University of Nebraska system save some bucks on books

By: - August 14, 2023 5:03 pm

(Getty Images)

OMAHA — The University of Nebraska system has saved students an estimated $16.7 million in textbook and course material costs over the last five years through its “Open Nebraska” initiative, which is aimed at making school more affordable.

That surpasses a goal to hit $10 million in savings through that effort by the end of the 2023-24 academic year, said NU spokeswoman Melissa Lee.

computer technology
(Courtesy of Ali Roby/Cquence Health Systems)

Launched in earnest and system wide in 2018, the program supports faculty in adopting low-cost or free, publicly accessible online materials for their courses. Students are able to search for which classes use so-called Open Educational Resources.

A breakdown of savings tracked at various campuses: $9.9 million at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; $4.9 million at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; $1.1 million at the University of Nebraska at Kearney; and $800,000 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Jaci Lindburg, associate vice chancellor of UNO’s Innovative and Learning-Centric Initiatives, said that as textbook prices have risen over time, students find themselves questioning more and more whether or not they need a certain book or material.

“Taking a gamble by starting a course without an expensive book, only to find they need it later, can set students back academically as well as financially,” Lindburg said.

She said Open Nebraska enables a “new level of care and support” by making book prices less of a burden. Tapping Open Educational Resources is a national trend, Lindburg said, and NU plans to expand opportunities for publicly accessible textbooks and course materials. 

As adoption increases, Lindburg said, it should become possible for more students to pursue full degree programs built entirely around such materials. 

UNO’s undergraduate sociology program, for example, was the first NU program to create a full degree program in which students can graduate without paying more than $40 per course for most materials, according to a UNO news release. 


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.

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