Textbook Legislation

OER Transparency: SB 810

In 2017, SB 810 was signed by Governor Abbott that requires tracking by institutions of higher education using open educational resources. That bill has now become a part of the Texas Education Code: Sec.51.542.  TEC, 51.542 supports OER by requiring statutory changes related to course listings and textbooks, and reasonable efforts to disseminate information to students regarding courses using OER.

OER are "…teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that allows for free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others, including full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” (Texas Senate Bill 810 2017 and TEC 51.542). OER textbooks, like those from OpenStax and Open Textbook Library, are free for students with no associated fees and have a Creative Commons or a Public Domain license."

Please see Report Zero Cost Textbooks to learn more. 

HB 1027 Transparency: Inclusive Access

In 2021, HB 1027 was passed requiring transparency at Texas institutions around inclusive access.

Inclusive access is described comprehensively on InclusiveAccess.org

Inclusive Access is a textbook sales model that adds the cost of digital course content into students’ tuition and fees. Inclusive Access programs usually start with an agreement between an institution, a bookstore, and one or more publishers. On or before the first day of class, digital content is delivered to students, typically through a learning management system. Students have a period to “opt out” before they are automatically billed for the cost. After the end of the course, students typically lose access to the content. Inclusive Access is also known as automatic textbook billing, and the details of each program can vary by campus.

It is important to note that  the phrase "inclusive access" is a misnomer for these types of programs. Like access codes, inclusive access models are a barrier to accessing course materials.

Essentially, publishers that offer inclusive access models offer them at both the campus and academic department level.  Academic departments agree to adopt a publisher textbook for a single course, a degree program, or at the campus level for several departments. In some cases, adoption of a single publisher's textbooks across an entire campus is the model.


Inclusive access programs pose several challenges for students and faculty, despite the attractive price at first glance. 


Institutions that adopt inclusive access programs are eliminating the textbook choice for students. Students are automatically billed a fee for the textbooks as part of their tuition, and textbooks are accessed on a digital platform for a specific period of time. 

On the surface, costs seem to decrease, but in reality the digital textbook price often exceeds the purchase price of a print used copy 

While institutions are required to provide student opt-out options for inclusive access, many are unable to do so without added technical and infrastructure obstacles. 


For faculty, there are several cons of inclusive access programs. Agreements with publishers restrict faculty to adopting materials only from other publishers with which they signed the agreement and for the specific course or program. Faculty within the program wishing to diversify course readings using materials from other publishers are hindered from exercising their full academic freedom. This is problematic due to the traditional limited scope of commercial textbook publishers and the exclusion of historically underrepresented groups in commercial textbooks: women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ voices. 


HB 1027 (enacted): Relates to the disclosure of certain information regarding textbooks and learning content management systems by certain institutions of higher education (SPARC, 2021a). The thrust of HB 1027 and its advocates is increased student awareness, access and empowerment around course materials to support decision-making.


As of Summer 2023, TAMU-CC does not use inclusive access for any courses or programs. To comply with HB 1027, institutions should make good faith efforts to provide transparency around any courses using inclusive access. 

Each course should include: 

  • Any fee or charge associated with the course, such as a technology cost, library use cost, or printing or publication fee.
  • The full amount of any fee for course materials assessed by the institution or another entity under an agreement with the institution, including a statement regarding whether the fee or charge is included in the cost of tuition.
  • A description of any process that allows the student to opt out of a course materials fee.
  • If a course material is in a primarily electronic format, the terms under which the provider collects and uses student data obtained through a student’s use of the course material.
  • If an institution designates certain courses as having zero textbook cost, the course schedule must include the criteria for that category (or a link to the criteria) in a prominent location.
  • If an institution charges a student an automatic billing program fee, it must itemize that fee separately from any other fees or charges assessed for a course in the billing to the student.
  • Any agreement between an institution of higher education and an entity under which the institution agrees to assess or allows the entity to assess a course materials fee to students is public information under Chapter 552, Government Code.

Compliance Challenges

In spirit, HB 1027 empowers students’ decision-making with easy access to information about their course materials.  However, implementing HB 1027’s reporting requirements may: 

  • Require a time-consuming manual aggregation process.

  • Result in incomplete reporting despite staff’s best efforts. 

  • The issues that arose with SB 810 (2017) appear to be the same with HB 1027 (2021) around faculty reporting. 

  • Reporting requires planning and programming in TAMU-CC data systems, including the course schedule, textbook reporting, and possibly more to integrate the necessary data.   

  • HB 1027 ll puts the onus on TAMU-CC to collect commercial publishers’ privacy notices, terms of service, and terms of use and integrate them into the course schedule. This may be problematic in practice, as a high level of cooperation is needed from  commercial publishers.