CUNY Open Education Resource program saves students $9.5 million on textbook costs

In 2017, the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) systems received funding to adopt Open Education Resources (OER) for many courses offered. This funding was awarded in response to librarian requests at both institutions and was adopted in 2,800 Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses impacting 76,000 students and resulting in $9.5 million saved on textbook costs. CUNY recently published the results of a survey their students to see what they thought about using the OER materials for their coursework.

The materials for ZTC classes were entirely digital which
marks a change in the typical paper textbooks that students previously used for
class. However, three-quarters (76%) of the students surveyed rated their ZTC
materials easier to access than materials for prior courses. Out of these
students, 4 in 10 (40%) cited the convenience of being able to use their ZTC
materials anywhere, at any time, from any device as why they are easier to
access. Almost a quarter (23%) said that all their materials being online or on
Blackboard make them easier to access, and about 1 in 8 (12%) cited the fact
that all the materials are free as why they are easier to access.

Using digital materials did not seem to impact students’
learning. One in five (20%) survey respondents accessed their ZTC course
materials before the semester started, indicating high engagement with learning
resources. Two-thirds (66%) of the respondents said that they feel they learn
as well with digital materials as with print, and two-thirds (65%) also
responded that they completed all of their readings for the course. Nearly all
(95%) respondents said that they would recommend taking a ZTC course to other

full report can be found here.

This post is part of our series, “
The LRS Number.”
In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century


  • Public Library Statistics & Profiles
    Dive into annual statistics from the Colorado Public Library Annual Report using our interactive tool, results tailored to trustees, and state totals and averages.
  • School Library Impact Studies
    School libraries have a profound impact on student achievement. Explore studies about this topic by LRS and other researchers in our comprehensive guide.
  • Fast Fact Reports
    Looking for a quick rundown of library research? Check out our Fast Facts, which highlight research and statistics about various library topics.


See more @


LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Staff & Contact Info