The purpose of the Textbook Affordability Project (TAP) is to promote awareness of textbook affordability issues, and to create solutions that ensure all students have access to course materials that are affordable, up-to-date, and satisfy academic needs. In the 2019-2020 school year, students at four-year public colleges like the University of South Florida spent an average of $1,240 on textbooks and supplies, according to collegeboard.com.
In 2018, more than 21,000 Florida students, including many from USF, participated in a Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey conducted by Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC). The results found that the cost of textbooks continues to negatively impact student access, success, and completion. Of the total respondents, 64.2% said that high cost of textbooks has resulted in not purchasing a required textbook. Moreover, 42.8% of respondents said they have taken fewer courses, 35.6% believe they have earned a poor grade, and 22.9% have dropped a course because of textbook costs.
To help mitigate these concerns, TAP provides informative, effective and active solutions to the rising cost of textbooks, such as electronic textbooks and textbooks on reserve at the library.
TAP has six primary components:
- Website – tap.usf.edu features need-to-know information about USF Bookstore adoption deadlines; textbook affordability initiatives, policies, and regulations; and best practices for reducing student costs.
- Textbook Recommendation Service – each semester TAP prepares cost-saving recommendations for faculty members across USF. These recommendations are based off USF Bookstore adoption data from the previous year: for example, Fall 2020 adoptions help to inform TAP when creating Fall 2021 recommendations, as similar courses are often taught Fall-to-Fall and Spring-to-Spring. TAP often recommends adopting digital rather than print formats or refers faculty to access their textbook for free through Ebooks for the Classroom+.
- Ebooks for the Classroom + – makes electronic books and textbooks available to students at no cost, with no access limitations. The USF Libraries will purchase electronic versions of currently adopted course materials if they are available in that format, at the request of instructors.
- Open Access Textbooks – Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible to all, without restriction. USF Scholar Commons is a “virtual showcase for USF’s research and creative energies” which features USF academic community authored and openly accessible journals, textbooks, collections, theses, and dissertations.
- Textbooks on Reserve – The USF Libraries holds reserves for textbooks and other materials required for students to complete their coursework. These items are either gathered from the USF Libraries collection, on loan from instructors, or are purchased by the USF Libraries, at the request of instructors, to help offset the high cost of textbooks for students. Course reserve items can be borrowed for three-hour loan periods within the USF Libraries.
- Textbook Adoption Compliance – TAP officially manages USF’s compliance with textbook affordability laws and regulations in the state of Florida. Three documents govern textbook affordability and selection at USF: