FIU Online spearheads launch of statewide affordable textbook initiative


FIU Online has spearheaded the launch of a statewide initiative that keeps the costs of textbooks and materials under $60 per course.

Affordability Counts is a faculty-driven program in which professors commit to keeping the cost of materials for their courses at an affordable price. FIU Online, which piloted the initiative, recently launched an online platform that is being adopted by universities across the state of Florida.

“At FIU, we know the cost of class materials is directly connected to a student’s ability to succeed,” said Joseph Riquelme, assistant vice president of FIU Online and creator of the initiative. “The Affordability Counts initiative is focused on providing the resources to assist faculty in selecting lower cost materials that will have an impact on both access and student success.”

According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, students pay an average of $153 per course and as much as $1,200 a year for textbooks and materials. To date, 270 courses have been added to the growing list of courses awarded an Affordability Counts medallion, and over 10,000 students have collectively saved more than $750,000 on course materials. The savings is nearly $79 per course, and the average cost for materials in Affordability Counts-certified courses is $21.

To help faculty members make the transition to low-cost materials, the newly launched Affordability Counts website, AffordabilityCounts.org, features a directory of statewide courses and free or low-cost resources that can be used to teach the subjects. Students looking for courses with low-cost materials can look up their professors on the website and see if they have made the pledge.

“One of the reasons I became a professor was to teach the next generation of leaders. However, for many students, finances are a roadblock,” said Lukas Danner, an international relations professor in FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs who has taken the affordable book pledge. “Affordability Counts helps our students finish what they started. It’s our way of contributing to their success.”

The website allows faculty at all Florida state universities to find low-cost materials by searching a database of courses using the state’s common numbering system. The course materials in the database come from a wide array of disciplines and can be used for courses in many degree programs. Faculty can also submit their courses to become Affordability Counts certified and receive their medallion status on the website.

– Monica Smith (FIU Online) contributed to this story.