Cost Savings and Return on Investment


In April 2021, MHEC convened a working group of institutional, state and national leaders to help advise its efforts to develop a set of principles to improve consistency and reliability in the field for measuring cost savings and the return on investment of OER. This group will advise MHEC throughout this process. The first meeting focused on defining what we hope to accomplish, why this work is important, whom it is designed for and how we should develop the principles. The group collectively acknowledged that this is a big challenge with multiple dimensions, but also a worthwhile endeavor. Below are key themes and takeaways from the first meeting that will guide and define the scope of this work.  

What are we doing and what do we need to keep in mind?

We are creating common principles to improve consistency and reliability in the field for measuring cost savings and the return on investment of OER. The final product will make it possible for someone to create and replicate a final number, whether a single number is published as part of this work will be determined through the development process.

The audience for these principles mirror’s MHEC members and the membership of other regional compacts. These members are decision-makers including legislators, system heads, institutional leadership typically asked to make decisions about resource allocation. The final product should also be accessible for students and the public who vote for or support leaders who decide on public expenditures and who make decisions about personal expenditures.

Why is it important?

  • Advocates need a concise statement that clearly and accurately communicates the value of OER.
  • Decision-makers need a reliable and valid way to measure the cost savings and return on investment for OER to students and their organization.
  • Leaders need to understand the good work and progress already created to measure the impact of OER so that they can use it within their efforts.
  • Practitioners with limited time need a short-cut to help them understand how to communicate cost-savings and the return on investment within their own OER efforts.
  • We all need to ensure that OER is helping us increase higher education’s efforts to increase attainment.


OER Cost Savings & ROI Work Group
Nicole Allen SPARC
Timothy Anderson Minnesota State Minnesota
Robert Awkward Massachussettes Department of Higher Education Massachusetts
Donna Desrochers rpk GROUP Maryland
Jeff Gallant Affordable Learning Georgia Georgia
James Glapa-Grossklag College of the Canyons California
Scott Hochberg OpenStax Texas
Amy Hofer Open Oregon Educational Resources Oregon
Kendra Lake North Central Michigan College Michigan
Nancy O'Neill University System of Maryland Maryland
Dale Sanders University of Missouri Campus Stores Missouri
Judith Sebesta Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas Texas
Eddie Watson Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)

Support Staff: Jenny Parks, MHEC; Katie Zaback, Zaback Consulting; Annika Many, EdBridge Partners; Tanya Spilovoy, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education; Liliana Diaz, WICHE; Charlotte Dailey, Southern Regional Education Board (SREB); and Lindsay Gumb, New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE).