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Open Educational Resources (OER) at NECC

A guide for faculty and students about Open Education Resources (OER).

Designating OER as Low-cost/No-cost textbooks

Type Description

The required instructional materials cost $40 or less.

Type Criteria

To be designated as a Low-Cost/No cost textbook course/section, the combined cost of the course/section instructional materials should be $40 or less. 

This includes all required instructional materials (definition above).

The $40 (or less) threshold is based on the pre-tax retail price and is applied to all class sections regardless of the number of credits offered.

  • The threshold is based on the price at the campus bookstore or charged by the publisher directly, whichever is lower.
  • Prorating the book cost based on the number of credits or the number of sections used is not recommended. For example, a $100 textbook spanning two semesters is not to be prorated 50/50; thus, it is not to be labeled as Low-Cost.

Consider the cost of new and used, rented, and older editions of the required instructional materials.

  • For used, rented, and older editions to be included in the Low-Cost designation,
    • Students should be able to acquire the instructional materials for $40 or less either from the college bookstore or the publisher directly, and
    • The college bookstore/the publisher should have sufficient stock for all enrollments. The faculty member should be advised to confirm this before assigning.
  • Prices offered by other third-party vendors, such as, should not be considered due to price fluctuation and uncertainty of stock availability.

A lecture course with an associated lab section should be coded together if lecture courses are integrated with lab sections (i.e., lecture and lab are simultaneously registered into a single course).

  • A combined cost for the required instructional materials from lecture and lab should be $40 or less to be marked as Low-Cost. This excludes the lab fee and the price for any supplies or equipment needed for the lab section.
  • A lecture with a lab may be coded separately only if it requires separate registration with independent section numbers.
Examples of Courses Meeting the Low-Cost Threshold
  • Use of an inexpensive commercial textbook costing $40 or less.
  • Use of a course material bundle (e.g., textbook and homework website) costing $40 or less, which can include a faculty member choosing an inclusive access option.
  • Use of a faculty-developed course package costing $40 or less

To cite this LibGuide use the following templates:

APA: Northern Essex Community College Library. (Date updated). Title of page. Title of LibGuide. URL

MLA: Northern Essex Community College Library. "Title of Page." Title of LibGuide, Date updated, URL.