Use of Free Educational Resources Offers Significant Cost Savings for Students

Tuesday, October 5, 2021
male student in red shirt writing with stylus on tablet

Raritan Valley Community College is helping students reduce their college costs by providing free instructional materials in a growing number of classes. Since 2018, the use of free Open Educational Resources (OER) has saved RVCC students $1,776,362.32 in textbook costs.

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

During the Spring 2021 Semester, RVCC Professor of Mathematics Lynne Kowski created OER for the College’s Statistics I course during a sabbatical leave. “I wanted to ensure that the new OER had the course content required for student success and learning, and to create materials that were independent of expensive textbooks and completely free for students enrolled in the class,” said Dr. Kowski. The new materials, she said, include content that coordinates with the existing course outline; are easy for full-time and adjunct Mathematics faculty to implement; and are comfortable for students in both online and in-person classes to utilize.

The materials will be launched in next semester’s Statistics I course, with most students expecting to save over $100 per semester by using OER in the class.

“As we continue to adopt OER in more courses, we are making higher education more affordable and more attainable for students,” said Instructional Services Librarian Megan Dempsey. “When the physical campus had to close early in the pandemic, students who were relying on library reserve textbooks or were sharing textbooks with friends suddenly found themselves unable to complete their assignments. However, students in OER courses were able to continue with the classwork without missing a beat because those materials were easily accessible to them online,” she continued.

“RVCC is moving closer to being able to offer degree pathways with minimal textbook costs. For example, it’s possible for a student to take 48 credits in the Liberal Arts degree program without paying for a textbook. That's 80 percent of the program,” added Dempsey, who has spearheaded the project with support from the OER Steering Committee, which she chairs. The initiative has received financial support through the RVCC Foundation.

Dempsey noted that when students were surveyed about using OER, 60 percent of the respondents said it improved their ability to complete their assignments, and 52 percent said using OER increased their satisfaction with the learning experience.

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 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



October 5, 2021

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

PR #24