In order for UI to comply with the Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act 2008, instructors must order textbooks and other required materials for the following semester by the start of Early Registration (ER) for that semester. In other words, for a course taught in the spring semester, orders need to be placed by the beginning of November, the usual start of the spring ER period. Fall semester books and materials need to be ordered by early April before the start of  ER for the fall semester.


Please see the Registrar's page for detailed procedure information.


At the University of Iowa, the following exceptions may be made by the department or program to this "early-order" policy, as follows.  

  • If an instructor has not yet been hired
  • If the instructor has not yet been assigned to a course
  • If the course is new and still under development
  • If the textbook is new and still under development 

Departments and programs should decide which courses will routinely receive an exception because of the logistics, for example, of the assignment of new teaching assistants.

There will also be non-routine exceptions made each semester by the department for new instructors; new courses; or for new textbooks still under review. The textbook status for exempted courses in the offerings planner in these cases must be set "to be determined."

Departments should make an internal notation in their records of these routine exceptions and the reasons for them. If there is an audit for compliance by an agency outside of the University of Iowa, programs and departments offering courses will need to document the reasons for these exceptions. Rather than document each exception, the overall logic for routine exemptions may be noted.

Exceptions must be used judiciously, with a department or unit otherwise submitting the bulk of textbook orders by the deadline. Each semester, the College and UI will check for compliance to this Federal mandate as obligated by the institution's dedication to transparency and integrity. Instructors requesting an exception should only be granted according to the reasons given above while also using common sense as a guide.

There is currently a MAUI report showing the courses with no notation added to the MAUI Offerings Planner. Departments and programs should review this report each semester.

If a faculty member is teaching a course and refuses each semester without good reason to order textbooks by the deadline, the instructor's name should be sent to the Associate Dean who will discuss the matter in person with the faculty member since it is important that all instructors share in the responsibility of compliance with this policy.


The intent of the Federal mandate is to give students enough time to understand the requirements of a course before enrolling and to be aware of the financial commitment to the course because of the cost of the materials and textbooks.

Additionally, the early deadline gives students an opportunity to find the books or materials from other sources, helping students to reduce their expenses. This flier gives information about how textbook prices rise during the semester before the course begins.

Please note that in no way does the mandate tell faculty what to buy or to limit required materials to a certain number of items or to the cheapest materials.

Research on student success has also shown that students who have textbooks and other materials in hand by the start of a class have already made a commitment to the course, the instructor, and the topic and thus are more engaged and do better in the course. This helps to create a more stable experience for all involved.

Faculty members who assign books or other materials which they have written, edited, or published and from which they receive royalties or other remuneration may not profit financially from the purchase of these materials by their students (Operations Manual, III-17.17(3)). The faculty member must either refund the money to the students who purchased these materials or make other arrangements to avoid profiting from the students' use of the materials. Faculty may, for example, transfer the remuneration to the University, one of its units, or The University of Iowa Foundation (e.g., for a student scholarship fund).

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, when a colleague requires or recommends another faculty member’s textbook the policy extends to use of the materials in courses within the Department. Royalties from these sales must be handled as described in the UI policy above, just as are royalties from sales to students in the faculty member’s own courses.

The College asks that sales information on which the transfer of royalties is based come from the publisher and not from local bookstores.

When preparing course materials, instructors must take precautions to prevent a violation of an author's or publisher's copyright. Both published and unpublished works, whether printed or distributed by electronic means (e.g., over the internet or by e-mail), are protected under the Copyright Act of 1976. Instructors developing course materials to be distributed via a course web site or other electronic medium (e.g., CD-ROM or other storage medium) must also comply with copyright provisions. Copyright registration is not required for a work to be protected, nor is it necessary to sell the material in order to commit copyright infringement.

The University Libraries has a useful page with information and links on copyright and fair use. Exceptions for fair use of copyright materials are set forth in the Copyright Act of 1976. In all other cases, instructors must obtain permission from the owner of the copyright before copying or distributing materials.

Educational use by itself does not protect the user from copyright infringement. When in doubt, instructors should request permission from the owner of the copyright by contacting the publisher. Requests should be made as early as possible to allow time to make arrangements for substitute materials if permission is not granted.

Questions about copyright law should be directed to the Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development (2660 University Capitol Center, 335-2742).

University policy prohibits "the sale of any classroom educational materials to students by faculty, staff, or departments" (Operations Manual, VI-19). This policy is not intended to restrict course development or to impede course instruction. However, it does preclude faculty and staff from selling course packs or other course materials directly to students or collecting fees or other course fees directly from students. All course fees must be approved by the College and University and collected through the University billing system (see Course Fees and Field Trips for more information).

The College's Undergraduate Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee has adopted the following statement on the educational value of using lecture notes purchased from private services:

"It is educationally unsound for students to use purchased lecture notes as a substitute for regular attendance at lectures, discussion sections, and laboratories or as a substitute for the experience of learning to take complete and accurate notes. Moreover, purchased lecture notes cannot capture an instructor's emphasis and enthusiasm, nor can they portray the full value of visual materials."

"The completeness and accuracy of purchased lecture notes are not guaranteed. Students who rely on these notes run the risk of working with incomplete and incorrect information. Students also should be aware that lecture notes purchased from private note-taking services are not authorized by the professor teaching the course."

Any non-registered individuals in the classroom should be asked to leave, including those taking notes for private services. University policy states that only those registered for a course may be in attendance (with the exception of one-time visitors whose visits have been authorized by the instructor). Instructors may also inform registered students that they prefer not to have notes on their lectures sold. Questions regarding the unauthorized taking of notes by non-registered individuals may be directed to the Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development (2660 University Capitol Center, 335-2742)