Affordable Learning

In an effort to reduce educational costs for students, provide access to high-quality instructional materials and alternative resources, and recognize faculty efforts in making instructional materials freely available; Sonoma State is partnering with the CSU system on two key initiatives: the Affordable Learning Solutions program and AB 798 Textbook Affordability Act. Collectively, these efforts are intended to promote student achievement for students at SSU. SSU has convened a Steering Group with representatives from Associated Students, Faculty, Disabled Student Services, Library, Faculty Center, Information Technology, and the SSU Bookstore. Below we provide a list of resources for your consideration.

SSU Textbook Affordability Fact Sheet & How Faculty Can Help Students

Faculty Workshops and Department Programs

Training and incentives for departments and individual faculty are available. Please contact the Faculty Center by phone 707-664-2659 or email to participate.

March 6, Open Education and Affordable Learning at SSU: An Overview and Update

Date: March 6, 2018
Time: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Location: Library Classroom 2016
Lunch provided, please register to R.S.V.P..

To celebrate Open Education Week, the SSU Library and Faculty Center will spotlight campus efforts in affordable learning and open education by presenting an abridged version of their OER Institute. Topics to be discussed include the difference between open education and affordable learning, OER discovery and creation, and lightning talks by faculty who are using open resources as well as creating the own. Lunch will be provided, please register to R.S.V.P.. For more information, contact Scholarly Communication Librarian Rita Premo at 707-664-4196 or Download the Open Education March 6 event flyer.
Open Education event graphic

Sonoma State Affordable Learning Faculty & Departmental Grants


Please complete the 2017-18 Sonoma State Affordable Learning Grant Application Form to apply for one of the grant types.

Grant Types

Three types of grants are available including, individual faculty awards of up to $1000, and departmental awards of up to $3000. Customized department workshops and individual-consultations are available to facilitate adoption of OER materials.

  • Creation of Original Open Educational Resources 
    Funding dependent on project description and funds availability, minimum award $1000)
  • Individual Faculty Adoption of Existing Open Educational Resources
    Requirements: Must notify campus bookstore of intent to offer OER, Affordable Learning Committee must verify adoption with indicated courses, notification deadlines must be met (Fall 2017: June 30, 2017; Spring 2018: November 18, 2017). Minimum award is $500 for OER adoption, $250 to attend an OER informational event, and $250 for helping to raise awareness for an OER related purpose (see questions below for details). One course per faculty, but multiple sections of that course are ok. The requirement is a 30% savings of textbook costs for students compared to material used in previous course.
  • Departmental Adoption of Open Educational Resources:
    Requirements: Department representative must submit project plan in writing through this form including: course(s) to be included, resources to be selected, and any related description of the use of the grant funds for instructional support purposes. Affected course sections must serve at least 100 students. Applications are considered as they are received, but may need to be prioritized based on the number of applications submitted. The requirement is a 30% savings of textbook costs for students compared to material used in previous course.

Affordable Learning Initiatives

College Textbook Affordability Act (AB 798) Program

SSU is participating the CSU-wide College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015 (AB 798) program to help faculty adopt high quality, free, accessible, and open educational resources for courses materials. Our goal is to reduce textbook costs for students by 30 percent per class section. Training and incentives available for faculty.

COOL4ED.ORG - CA Open Online Library for Education (AB798 resources)

Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$)

The AL$ program aims to cultivate and encourage faculty ambassadors to adopt low-cost and/or free quality texts and instructional materials from repositories such as MERLOT, Open Educational Resources Commons (OER), and the Library. Unlike the AB798 program, the AL$ program grants opportunities for faculty to author course materials.

CSU Affordable Learning Solutions efforts and resources

Faculty have a plethora of options when considering what text books and instructional materials to adopt. Below are search tools and resources to help faculty find quality free or low-cost textbook alternatives to traditional textbooks. Workshops and incentives for departments and individual faculty who wish to discover and adopt free/ low-cost materials are available. Please contact the Faculty Center by phone 707-664-2659 or email to participate.

SSU Resources

Open Educational Resource (OER) Repositories

Free educational materials in small modules that can be organized as courses, books, reader materials, and academic assignments. Repositories may include texts, lesson plans, assessments, interactive multimedia, images, simulations, and sound recordings. In addition to using open-licensed or open-educational materials think about joining the global community by authoring and contributing your own.

Open Textbooks and Materials

Our campus is in alignment with the Graduation Initiative to help students graduate in shorter time. We know that lowering the cost of their education through eliminating expensive textbooks will help with that goal. The AL$ Initiative, AB798, Open Access initiatives, as wells as the past SSU Textbook Alternative Projects align with our SSU Strategic Priorities to 'provide all students with the means of achieving timely graduation without sacrificing the high quality of the degrees they earn'. Visit the CSU Students and Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) web page to learn more about textbook affordability options and how students can get involved.

Below are some search tools and resources to help students find quality free or low-cost textbook alternatives to traditional textbooks.

Find the Best Price and Options for You

Use Open Textbooks and Free Resources for Primary or Supplementary Study Materials

Annotation and Study Tools to Use with Electronic Texts (eBooks, Web Pages, Word Docs, PDFs)

  • Download Read and Write (free download for SSU students) highlight etexts, have etexts read aloud, create a vocabulary list of definitions from highlighted text, create concept maps, converts etexts to mp3s for listening on the go and more.
  • EndNote Web collect and organize your references and have your citations and footnotes formatted in APA, MLA, or any other style.
  • 20 free tools for annotating PDF ebooks