Breaking free: To save students money, colleges are looking to the Open Educational Resources movement

UW-Madison student Zaakir Abdul-Wahid says he routinely needs to skip buying an expensive textbook and get through a course without it.

Nearly every semester, there’s a textbook he can’t afford to buy, said University of Wisconsin-Madison student Zaakir Abdul-Wahid.

Not if he wants to be able to eat, pay rent and cover his cell phone bill, too.

Abdul-Wahid recalled buying an accounting text that cost more than $200 one semester, knowing he would need the companion online study material. He wasn’t able to buy any other textbooks that term, he said.

“Often I would borrow friends’ books as I could. There were times I would take pictures of the book pages and download them to a computer in picture form,” Abdul-Wahid said. The 20-year-old rising junior psychology and marketing major from Milwaukee can call on family for some money in an emergency, but holds down a couple of jobs to pay his own way and keep  student loans from mounting.