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Information for Instructors

Marking affordable courses, those that use no cost — $0 and low cost materials — less than $45, is an effort supported by KU Student Senate and campus partners to help students navigate a complex course materials landscape

Starting in Fall 2020, two tools that students use to identify courses of interest, Enroll & Pay and classes.ku.edu, will include information to help students plan and budget for textbooks and related materials — coursepacks, homework systems, etc.

How Instructors Participate

Instructors participate in this effort by providing their course materials adoptions to KU Bookstore at the earliest convenient point, preferably before course materials reporting deadlines — November 1 for Spring adoptions, April 1 for Summer adoptions, and May 1 for Fall adoptions.

In the effort to implement course marking in a minimally invasive manner for instructors, the Course Marking Project Team worked within existing platforms and created local processes to automatically mark courses according to the information instructors are already asked to provide every semester.

NOTE: Due to delays in the automatic process outlined here, we are piloting a manual application process. Details are outlined in the FAQ, Instructor Questions, "Are there alternative ways to report cost data to receive a marking?"

When an instructor reports no course materials required or a type of course material without cost, the course will be marked as a no cost course at Enroll & Pay and classes.ku.edu.

When an instructor reports course material adoptions with cost, the cumulative cost of those materials will be automatically calculated and communicated to Enroll & Pay and classes.ku.edu as quickly as possible.

Courses with a cumulative material cost of less than $45 will be marked as low cost courses. Those with a cumulative cost equal to or exceeding $45 are not marked. This process is automatic for the instructor, though some processing of data is required. Markings will update regularly during the course material adoption reporting and enrollment periods.

Why $45?

In Spring 2020 the Course Marking Project Team conducted a survey in Blackboard — from February 3 to March 19, requesting input from students and instructors.

Over 2000 students and more than 300 instructors responded, indicating the upper threshold of what they considered affordable. The average student response was $42.50. The average instructor response was $48.50. The Project Team selected $45 as a reasonable compromise between these two upper thresholds.

It's notable that these figures are with $6.00 of each other, and align with national norms, which range from $25 to $50.

How is Cost Determined?

Course materials are increasingly complex in version, format, and cost.

In order to provide students with clear and concise information, the Project Team chose to base course markings on the new price of the instructor-preferred format/edition as priced by KU Bookstore, which makes price comparisons available to students to help them find the best deal.

For example, if a single required textbook is available in print for $75 and digitally for $40, the course will be marked as low cost UNLESS the instructor requires the print edition.

The Project Team elected not to mark courses based on used and rental prices because these options are already widely understood and adopted by students, when they’re available. These issues are further developed in the FAQ.


The Course Marking Project Team is committed to make every effort to reflect student, faculty, & staff needs & feedback in design, implementation, and future development.

We’re seeking to provide clear guidelines, training, and information to all parties, and to streamline participation by leveraging existing platforms and workflows.

To share comments, suggestions, and to report bugs: