After North Dakota dedicated funds for a free textbook initiative, results were surprisingly encouraging

More than a year after the state Legislature put $110,000 into the North Dakota University System to fund a free textbook initiative, the first schools to see those funds are hoping to save students a lot of money.

Based on calculations using the full cost of textbooks, UND is going to save students about $1.2 million in textbook costs next school year. Valley City State University already is cutting up to $82,000 in costs, with the aim to eliminate between $30,000 and $50,000 in textbook expenses next school year.

“The game-changer in this project was the funding that allowed me to move forward with faculty development and workshops to help them understand the resources,” said Tanya Spilovoy, the NDUS director of distance education and state authorization.

Open educational resources and open textbooks are free, vetted online materials universities nationwide have been moving toward using.

First-time, full-time undergraduate students at four-year public institutions spent an average of $1,143 on textbooks and supplies nationwide during the 2012-13 school year according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Next page: How universities are faring

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