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Affordable Learning $olutions

The official website of the CSUN AL$ initiative.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AL$?
AL$, or Affordable Learning $olutions, is an initiative by the CSU Chancellor’s office to promote the use of low- or no-cost course materials to reduce the financial burden on students. Since 2016, AL$ has saved CSUN students over $1,000,000 in textbook costs. Learn more about the AL$ Initiative.
Why is AL$ important for student success?

Textbooks are expensive, and costs are rising all the time. This puts an undue burden on students, especially ones who are struggling to make ends meet financially, and it often results in students delaying purchasing textbooks until late in the semester... or worse, not purchasing them at all. By participating in AL$, you are supporting student success by:

  • Reducing costs for students and bridging opportunity gaps
  • Improving student performance by ensuring everyone has access to course materials on day one
  • Creating more interactive, collaborative learning experiences using online resources
Are Open Educational Resources high quality?

There is a misconception that free resources are not high quality – and this is simply not true! There are many repositories and publishers that offer peer-reviewed resources and have rigorous publishing requirements. Although Open Educational Resources (OERs) are relatively new to the educational landscape, several studies have compared student learning outcomes between traditional textbooks and OERs to guage any differences in quality, and many have found either no significant difference in student learning or performance, or have found improvements. For more research on OER effectiveness, see the Open Education Group.

How can I find OER and other affordable resources for my course?
We have compiled an Open Educational Resources Guide to help you navigate the many OER repositories and publishers out there and locate quality course materials. You can either browse General Resources or look up resources for your specific discipline. If you ever need help finding affordable resources, you can always contact a librarian for assistance.
How can students identify zero-cost and low-cost courses?

California Senate Bill 1359 requires CSU campuses “to clearly highlight, by means that may include a symbol or logo in a conspicuous place on the online campus course schedule, the courses that exclusively use digital course materials that are free of charge to students and may have a low-cost option for print versions.” Look for the following symbol in Class Search to identify zero-cost course materials:

Screenshot of zero cost icon

Do I have to adopt OER to be designated as a zero- or low-cost course?
Not at all! There are many different strategies for reducing or eliminating course material costs, whether that's through OER, faculty authored material, digitizing, or utilizing library resources. As long as you're lowering course costs for your students, then you're eligible!
Who can I contact for more information about AL$?
Our team of Affordable Learning experts is always happy to answer questions and hear any feedback you have. You can contact us by filling out the form on the Contact Us page

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