Textbook Provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act

FAQs for Faculty and Departmental Staff

Federal and state laws require institutions of higher education to make available information on required course textbooks, as well as the costs of these required materials.

The New York State Textbook Access Act (Education Law 720) went into effect on July 1, 2009, and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (Federal College Textbook Affordability Act, 2008) went into effect on July 1, 2010. 

Information regarding these laws, along with a statement from the SUNY Chancellor, is available.

Please remember that the students benefit by purchasing items you list as “required,” as these items are exempt from New York State sales tax.

Frequently Asked Questions
Am I able to change from one textbook to another, or add/delete a textbook, between March/October and the start of classes?

Yes, you can make changes but please notify the bookstore of any changes or additions as soon as possible. Likewise, if you know you're going to add books after the deadline, please let the bookstore know so that they can add this information to the course listing.

Can I put together a “standard” list and modify it later?

Yes, you can note on the bookstore site that additional books may be added later.

Does this apply to grad classes as well as undergraduate classes?

Yes, it applies to both undergraduate and graduate courses.

Do faculty members who don’t require textbooks still have to notify the bookstore?

Yes, we must list that no textbook is required.

Does this apply to independent study credit classes?

No, curriculum for independent study is an independent contract between the faculty member and the student, so any course materials or textbooks will be decided upon jointly.

Does this apply to only "textbooks,” as opposed to journal readings and course packs?

No, it applies to textbooks, written material, access codes and course packs, among others, as outlined in the statute:

  • “Bundle” is defined as one or more college textbooks or other supplemental materials that may be packaged together to be sold as course materials for one price.
  • “College textbook” is defined as a textbook or set of textbooks used for, or in conjunction with, a course in postsecondary education at an institution of higher education.

Basically, this mandate applies to any written material, either printed or electronic, that is required reading for a course and that a student has to pay for.

Can we still order textbooks through small businesses? If so, how?

Yes, as long as faculty members let the bookstore know what the required textbooks and materials are. This information will be posted on the bookstore website and will be made available to any small business online.

If I submit my list to the bookstore but know that my students are going to purchase the books from Amazon or another store, is there a way for me to notify the bookstore of this?

Yes, please indicate this information on the comment section on the bottom of the form.

What if our department doesn’t know yet who will be teaching the course by the deadline? Different instructors prefer different books, so we don’t know what books will be used.

The mandate requires that we make the information available to the maximum extent possible. If the department does not know who the instructor will be or which textbooks will be used, simply notify the bookstore of this information. We will indicate that the information is “to be determined.” Please be sure to communicate any updates to the bookstore as soon as possible.