University of Cincinnati’s Affordable Learning Initiatives

University of CincinnatiThe University of Cincinnati is proud to do all we can to lower costs to students. Aligned with the Ohio Department of Higher Education to reduce the cost of education for college students, UC has developed and shared strategies with other Ohio institutions to improve the learning experience of students all over the state.

The Office of the Provost finds opportunities in using new technology, open educational resources, and the collective buying power of our students to reduce costs, improve delivery, and better serve scholarly needs. Through collaboration with faculty and offices here at UC, we have identified specific, effective practices for finding affordable textbooks. We work to share those practices with our faculty and students, to find savings in every possible way.

Textbook Affordability Committee: UC has created a partnership led by the Provost’s Office that includes our UC Faculty, Faculty Senate, Student Government, UC Libraries, CET&L, our bookstore partner (Follett), IT@UC, Campus Services, the Office of Undergraduate Affairs and the Division of Administration and Finance. Together, we are utilizing multiple strategies to reduce student spending on course materials.

Early Textbook Adoptions: When faculty members make adoptions early, students often see lower prices. Early adoptions help the bookstore to stock used/rental copies and seek the most competitive prices. Faculty submit requests with the Textbook Adoption button through Campus Services. Rent-A-Text allows students to opt for renting a required textbook at the beginning of a term to save 50% or more off the retail price. Timely textbook adoption is critical for this strategy. The Office of the Provost sends a reminder each semester to get adoptions in by the deadline, before student registration begins.

Volume Discounts: When large numbers of students are required to purchase the same materials, and used copies are not available, then UC may be able to negotiate a lower price for everyone. Of particular interest, the includED® model saves students 40% on average. This strategy is ideal for courses requiring students to use an electronic workbook, or other electronic consumable material. This model provides access to electronic materials through Blackboard for the entire class. Students are charged a course fee for these materials. Faculty can email to get connected with a representative and explore possible volume discounts.

Home-Grown E-books: The Center for Excellence in eLearning is launching its first eTextbook Project. A group of 12 faculty will work throughout spring and summer to develop their own interactive textbooks using iBooks Author, avoiding the high cost of going through a publisher. These will either supplement the textbooks already used in courses or replace them altogether. CEeL will begin accepting applications for cohort 2 during the mid-fall semester and begin work during the 2017 spring term.

UC Library E-Resources: A growing array of articles, books, audio tracks, and other learning materials are available online for free. By visiting UC Libraries Digital Collections, you can find additional resources online such as ACLS Humanities, CRCnetBASE, Ebrary, Gutenberg-e Database, Naxos Music Library, Safari Books Online, SpringerLink, and the Wiley Online Library. Please contact Debbie Tenofsky for questions about any particular collection.

Custom Packaging: Customized publications reduce the cost to students by limiting the total volume of material that they must purchase. Lab manuals, in particular, can be customized to the particular experiments that are needed for students. Professors can email for help making this arrangement with a publisher.

Price Match Promise: If a student finds a lower price on an in-stock comparable condition textbook locally or online, the UC Bookstores will match the price right at the register. While some restrictions apply, this program is showing great potential in continuing to reduce the cost of course materials to students.

Contact Information: GigiEscoe, Vice Provost,, 513-556-9193, or Mark Konecny, Scholarly Communications Publishing Coordinator,, 513-556-2511