13 How Does Course Marking Work at the University of Idaho?

The University of Idaho hopes to have its first designated low and very low cost courses marked in the 2024 Fall Schedule. Faculty who believe they have a course that is either Zero Cost or Very Low Cost should review their course materials to ensure they meet the following requirements. [1]

Zero Cost

Students who take a zero cost course should expect to be able to access all required materials for the course for zero cost during the whole term. This can be achieved by courses using the following types of materials:

  • Openly licensed textbooks
  • OER (open educational resources)
  • Freely available content such as materials in the public domain
  • Licensed materials may be used in cases where Library course reserves can provide resources that allow for an unlimited number of simultaneous users. Important Note: Not all current Library Digital Course Reserves will meet or be able to meet this standard due to materials having different simultaneous user policies.
Very Low Cost

Very low cost means the materials cost less than $30 at full MSRP.

  • This category is for courses that have a cost of less than $30 for the full, MSRP, non-discounted price of a new textbook.
  • Used texts or rental prices should not be used to qualify a text for this category. The full price of the text, purchased new at the Vandal Bookstore or comparable retailer, is the determining price.

Some Questions and Answers

What do “course materials” mean?

Course materials are defined as primary required teaching and learning content: textbooks and their equivalents, literary texts, digital learning platforms, homework systems, etc.

Other supplies, such as clickers, lab safety equipment, art supplies, required calculators and other technology, etc. are not considered course materials for the purpose of course marking. In other words, a course that requires a clicker or lab safety gear can still be marked as an affordable course if it utilizes otherwise free or low cost material. Technology and supplies are frequently reusable. A clicker or graphing calculator is generally acquired once and used repeatedly, such that once a student has these tools, they don’t need to buy them again.

“Recommended” materials are not addressed by this project because they are optional and may be acquired, or not, without negatively impacting students’ ability to succeed in the course, according to their own preferences and needs.

How do I calculate the cost of my course materials?

Course material costs are calculated using the full price of the text, purchased new at the VandalStore or another comparable textbook retailer.

If you’re happy with the course textbook you currently use, look up the price online or contact the VandalStore for assistance. Report that price to your course scheduler so they can designate the appropriate category in the registration system. If your course materials are less than $30, your course will receive a Very Low Cost course designation. If your course materials are $0, your course will receive a Zero Cost course designation.

If your course materials are higher than $30, your course will not receive any course cost designation at this time.

What about Inclusive Access?

Inclusive access, day one access, or automatic charge costs can be used to qualify a course for a for a Very Low Cost course designation provided that the total cost is less than $30. The SBOE Memo that specifies the course marking policy also asks for inclusive access materials to be designated as such in the course schedule. Inclusive access materials are traditionally licensed materials that publishers offer bundled access to for a subscription cost that is typically assessed alongside tuition and similar fees

When a faculty member adopts an Inclusive Access digital textbook, they eliminate, or severely restrict, students’ typical range of options for accessing course materials. For example, with traditional textbooks, students generally have multiple options for accessing the materials, including purchasing or renting new or used versions from the bookstore or other retailers, sharing with fellow students, or checking out reserve copies from the library.

Comparatively, courses that use Inclusive Access digital textbooks typically leave students only one option for accessing course materials (although at a discounted rate). Further, it is often impossible for a student who does not purchase the required Inclusive Access digital textbook to participate and succeed in the course because homework sets, quizzes and other assessments are embedded within the digital materials.

This is not the same as an Open textbook or Open content which is completely free for students to access and use.


But I just post everything in my Canvas so is it zero cost?

In order for your courses to be marked as Zero Cost in the registration system, you need to report “no material required” to your department’s course scheduler when you turn in your syllabus. Making sure Zero Cost courses are effectively and accurately marked in the registration system ensures that our students can make informed choices about their financial burden. We’d also encourage you to reach out to the librarian in your discipline to ensure that the materials you’re posting on Canvas are copyright-compliant and accessible for students using screen-readers or other adaptive technology solutions.  The Library can also help you turn this list of materials into a Leganto list! Faculty using Leganto to create a digital course reserve should contact the main library as soon as possible to determine that their course meets the requirements for unlimited user licenses on selected materials. Please reach out to the main library via the libreserve@uidaho.edu email for this information.



In Spring 2024 Faculty will submit zero and low cost designations for Fall ’24 alongside their typical course scheduling activities. Be sure to check in with your College Administrators if you have questions or concerns about your course materials costs and how to mark you courses. These designations will launch with the Fall ’24 course schedule available to students.

  1. Information on this page comes from our library website at: Course marking. University of Idaho Library. (n.d.). https://www.lib.uidaho.edu/open/course-marking.html


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