Use of Free Educational Resources Offers Cost Savings for Students

Monday, September 14, 2020
student holding pencil working on laptop

Raritan Valley Community College is helping students reduce their college costs by providing free instructional materials in a growing number of classes. In the past two years, the use of free Open Educational Resources (OER) has saved RVCC students $931,578.25 in textbook costs.

Close to 40 faculty members are using online resources in their courses instead of expensive textbooks. These resources can be freely downloaded, edited and shared. In addition to the cost savings, students benefit by using course materials that can easily be customized by their professors.

Students in Pascal Meier’s Chemistry I and II classes have used OER in the past, and this semester students in Introduction to Chemistry courses are using the materials as well. “I felt it was important to move students to OER due to the increasing cost of materials from publishers, which has been outpacing inflation very significantly,” says Meier, RVCC Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

The move to online instructional materials in Chemistry I and II has saved students approximately $50-$100 for two semesters of classes, continues Meier. Using OER in classes “also ensures that all students have access to the textbook, which was not the case in the past. Many students would wait several weeks before getting the text, which really hindered their learning.”

“This is an incredible accomplishment for a grassroots, faculty-driven initiative,” says Instructional Services Librarian Megan Dempsey. “RVCC faculty have voluntarily participated in professional development to learn more about Open Educational Resources and issues of textbook affordability, and they have taken action to do their part in making higher education more affordable for our students,” adds Dempsey, who has speared the project with support from the OER Steering Committee, which she chairs. The initiative has received financial support through the RVCC Foundation.

Dempsey says that when students were surveyed about using OER, 60 percent of the respondents said it improved their ability to complete their assignments; 52 percent said using OER increased their satisfaction with the learning experience; and 45 percent said it improved their grade in the class(es).

For additional information about Open Educational Resources at RVCC, contact Megan Dempsey at

Ranked by and as the #1 community college in New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College has been serving as an academic and cultural center for Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 50 years. The College has been nationally recognized for its service to the community, environmental stewardship, and commitment to diversity. It is home to a Planetarium, Science Education Institute and 3M Observatory; a 1,000-seat Theatre offering professional performances for all ages; and an Honors College for high achieving students.

The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, small business assistance through the Small Business Development Center, and professional development courses. RVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit



September 14, 2020

Media contact: Donna Stolzer, 908-526-1200, ext. 8383

PR #22