Washington State University is one of 11 institutions across the U.S. selected to take part in the national Open Educational Resource Institutional Partnership Program, a project that could save students thousands of dollars each year.

The program, operated by Rice University’s OpenStax Publishing, is designed to provide free consultation and resources for schools wanting to increase the use of OER on campus, and to build a community of institutions dedicated to lowering the cost of course materials using OER.

“Our students have shown leadership and vision for galvanizing a university-wide effort to lowering classroom material costs and this is a great step in that direction,” says WSU Provost Dan Bernardo. “Our opportunity to join the OER Institutional Partnership Program resulted from the diligence of the classroom materials cost reduction task force, and we’re excited about the potential benefits for our students and faculty.”

The program saved students at 15 institutions a combined $42 million in the 2015-16 academic year. For WSU, the estimated savings per year after successful completion of the program is $424,000.

“It’s up to faculty to choose whether the open textbook route makes sense for their course,” says Michael Caulfield, Director of Blended and Networked Learning at WSU. “Often it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But we want to make using open materials as easy as choosing a commercial textbook, so that faculty who want to go open, can.”

WSU was selected from a pool of 43 applicants for the program. It will provide a customized strategic plan to increase OER use on campus, 10 hours of tech support for using, editing or adding to OpenStax books or content from OpenStax CNX, at least one campus visit from an OpenStax representative, and additional support.

“We’ve seen significant demand for this program,” said Nicole Finkbeiner, associate director for institutional relations at OpenStax. “Each partner school has demonstrated a desire to replace costly textbooks with as many open educational resources, including OpenStax textbooks, as possible. We’re thrilled to offer these institutions the support they need to make college more accessible and affordable for their students.”

A WSU task force made up of students, faculty and staff put together plans and recommendations to reduce classroom material costs, and the OpenStax program is aimed at addressing many of the objectives in the task force’s report.

Faculty, staff or students interested in participating, or getting more information about the OpenStax program should contact Michael Caulfield or Rebecca Van De Vord.

The OpenStax OER Institutional Partnership Program is made possible by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.