University System of Georgia institutions are required to assign the appropriate attribute to sections of courses where required course materials exclusively consist of:
- No-cost materials: $0 required materials costs
- Low-cost materials: $40 or under required materials costs
"Materials" are digital and print textbooks, other text-based materials, workbooks, lab manuals, online homework platforms, and access codes or other publisher-provided curricular materials for students.
Excluded from the no-cost and low-cost caps are:
- Equipment, such as art supplies, calculators, or physical lab materials
- Fees for online test proctoring or online labs
To assign a no-cost or low-cost attribute to a course section, use the following codes in Banner:
- ZNCM: No-cost materials
- ZLCM: Low-cost materials
The no-cost attribute is for use with courses that exclusively use course materials that are free of charge to students. These materials may include open educational resources (OER), institutionally licensed campus library materials that all students enrolled in the course have access to use, and other materials that require no additional cost to students.
OER are high-quality teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and customization. OER include but are not limited to textbooks, courses, ancillary materials, videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge with both free access and an open license.
The low-cost attribute is for use with courses with required course materials which cost students a total of $40 or less per course.
Do not include optional materials.
The cost of optional materials listed in a course syllabus, such as optional print versions of otherwise digital open textbooks, should not be included in your no-cost or low-cost calculation.
Only identify courses that meet these cost-cap requirements ($0 or $40 or under).
Students will have the ability to search for courses with these attributes in Banner, so accuracy in reporting no-cost and low-cost materials sections is extremely important.
If a resource is used across multiple courses in a sequence, do not base your calculation on the cost divided by those courses.
An assumption that all students will take all courses in one series with a high-priced textbook is not accurate enough to assign a no-cost or low-cost attribute because the cost is divided across a number of courses. A text that costs $120 that is required for three sequenced courses *does not* meet the $40 or under label requirement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the cost cap for low-cost materials $40?
ALG set the $40 cost cap by looking at peer institutions implementing course attributes, but factors such as wages and inflation will be taken into account when looking at future adjustments. The current minimum wage for most employees in Georgia is the federal rate of $7.25 for FLSA-qualifying employees, though the state minimum wage is $5.15 for a small percentage of non-qualifying employees. Not including paycheck deductions, such as taxes, most students would need to work six hours in one minimum-wage job to purchase $40 in required materials for a course.
Do these attributes infringe on the academic freedom that faculty instructors have in order to choose what materials they use in the classroom?
These attributes are meant to raise awareness to students when a course section is using no-cost or low-cost materials. Requiring no-cost or low-cost courses is not a requirement to faculty, and both faculty and departments should continue to work toward student success by selecting the best materials for students in their course sections.
What if materials are less expensive on a vendor site or a third-party store, but the bookstore price is over $40?
To calculate your text-related costs for these attributes, use the cost of new materials in your campus bookstore. Although materials may be less expensive elsewhere, students using financial aid often must purchase materials from the bookstore. Prices for used materials may be lower, but used purchasing can be complicated by limited supplies and edition changes. Contact your campus bookstore for help with bookstore pricing.
Do textbook rentals count as a low-cost option?
Rentals that are $40 or under can count as a low-cost option for required materials, so long as this provides equal access to required materials for the duration of the course. When considering rentals as a low-cost option, be sure to make students aware of the option, along with the time period the rental covers and any late penalties or additional costs that rentals may incur. If your course is one where students frequently need to retake the course, consider the extra costs students may have by renting the same text twice when choosing this option.
What if my text is available as an eBook through the library?
If your required text is available as a free-to-students eBook through the library with enough concurrent multi-user access to suit your course, your course can qualify for the no-cost attribute. Be sure to indicate on your syllabi and on adoption reporting that this library version is available.
If you are interested in the eBooks your library has to offer, please consult with a librarian at your institution's library. The library can check to see if the licensing allows for the type of unlimited concurrent use for students that required course materials would need.
What if the library has a print copy of the text?
When assigning an attribute on a course with only physical copies of a text at the library, be sure to consider the number of copies available. Contact your institution's library to check on this and/or arrange for copies to be available.
What if I do not require any materials for my class?
The no-cost materials attribute also applies if zero materials are being required.
What if I do not require the materials, but I strongly recommend them?
If the materials you are strongly recommending for your course are crucial enough for student success that avoiding the purchase of them would mean a significant decrease in performance for a student, these materials should be considered as required. For example, if you are strongly recommending a mathematics homework platform access code, and this platform is the only way to submit homework for the course, the platform should be considered required.
What if someone assigned an attribute to their course as having no-cost materials, but then the instructor for this section changed?
Please verify the use of no-cost materials with the new instructor and, if things have changed, change this attribute as soon as possible. If the attribute is changed, please contact the students who have already registered for this course about the change.
What if I am unsure about the cost of my materials, or I’m not sure which textbook I will use?
If you are unsure about whether your course meets one of the two attributes at the registration deadline, do not assign an attribute. If you are sure about your materials later, assign the appropriate attribute.
I am entering all sections of one course within the catalog. What if I do not know which textbooks these instructors will use?
If possible, contact the instructors and verify which textbooks will be used. ALG prefers that students be pleasantly surprised that they do not have to purchase costly materials rather than surprised that a no- or low-cost materials attributed course does not have no- or low-cost materials after registration.
How can I help make our attributes more visible and accurate?
Raise awareness regarding these attributes within your institution, both for faculty reporting attributes and for students registering for courses through effective outreach channels.
If your course meets one of the two attributes, assign the attribute per your institution's processes. If your course does not meet one of these attributes, you do not need to change anything.
Department Chairs and Deans
Work with your faculty and staff to develop processes to collect this information from faculty each term. Designate roles and responsibilities in this information collection process. Suggestions include using a shared form or spreadsheet to allow faculty to input their own information, therefore reducing the workload for all involved.
Schedule Entry Assistants and Staff
Work with your faculty and chairs to develop processes to collect this information from faculty each term. Designate roles and responsibilities in this information collection process. Suggestions include using a shared form or spreadsheet to allow faculty to input their own information, therefore reducing the workload for all involved.
We hope you find this information helpful for your planning and implementation of required course material no-cost and low-cost attribute codes.
This document is a remix of the Designation FAQ by Portland Community College, CC BY 4.0 International License.