Nearly 1.5 million college students to use free textbooks this school year


David Ruth

Nearly 1.5 million college students to use free textbooks this school year

HOUSTON – (Aug. 10, 2017) – Nearly 1.5 million U.S. college students are expected to save an estimated $145 million in the 2017-18 academic year by using free textbooks from OpenStax, the Rice University-based publisher of open education resource materials.

OpenStax information graphic“The adoption of OpenStax nationally is taking hold and saving students and families money,” said Daniel Williamson, managing director of OpenStax. “Individual faculty as well as institutions can make tremendous gains in college affordability by using OpenStax textbooks.”

OpenStax projects this year’s savings to be nearly double last year’s impact on students’ wallets. Since 2012 OpenStax has saved nearly 3.5 million students more than $340 million by offering 29 textbooks for the most-attended college courses. The free, peer-reviewed, openly licensed books include College Physics, Biology, Concepts of Biology, University Physics, Principles of Microeconomics, Psychology, American Government and College Algebra, among others.

By this fall more than 11,000 faculty members at 4,200 universities or colleges will have adopted OpenStax textbooks for 8,500 courses.

“Free, peer-reviewed and openly licensed textbooks used at scale are only the first step,” Williamson said. “Quality, openly licensed content enables further innovation in ways that we’ve already seen: faculty are localizing it to meet their needs and building communities of practice, and partner companies are using it to build the next generation of adaptive learning tools. And yet, there are more opportunities to innovate and improve student learning with OpenStax that are still to be discovered or explored. This promise of innovation is the real value of OpenStax.”

OpenStax is committed to improving access to quality learning materials. As a nonprofit education technology initiative that is supported by philanthropic foundations, OpenStax also provides Advanced Placement textbooks that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators along with low-cost, personalized courseware that helps students learn. OpenStax expects to meet or beat its goal of saving U.S. college students $500 million by 2020.

OpenStax is made possible by the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Ann and John Doerr, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation, the Maxfield Foundation, the Calvin K. Kanzanjian Foundation and the Leon Lowenstein Foundation. For more information, visit


For more information or to schedule an interview with Williamson, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6327.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.

Images for download:
Infographic courtesy OpenStax
Daniel Williamson photo courtesy of Jemel Agulto/OpenStax

Recent OpenStax news:

OER expert available to comment on Amazon Inspire relaunch

OpenStax launches personalized learning tool for college courses

OpenStax’s 2016 partner schools expected to save students $8.2M in coming year

OpenStax, OER Commons partner on community hubs

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.
Follow OpenStax on Twitter @OpenStax.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to


About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.