Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees on the Rise! California’s Governor Brown & Achieving the Dream: two years in a row, money for open textbooks and degrees

Governor Jerry Brown signed his latest funding for OER, $5 million for Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant Programs for California community colleges (CCC). Community colleges are two-year schools that provide affordable postsecondary education as a pathway to a four-year degree. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 1,167 community colleges in the United States enroll more than 12.4 million students and serve almost half of all undergraduate students in the United States. More information about Community Colleges is available here.

The ultimate goal of these funds is to enable students to graduate from CCC in less time as their overall education costs will be reduced by not paying for textbooks. Colleges can be granted up to $200,000 for each associate degree or career certificate that eliminate all mandatory textbook costs by replacing traditional textbooks with OER or free materials. Further information about the funding can be found at:http://www.dof.ca.gov/budget/Trailer_Bill_Language/ Chose “Education” and Trailer Bill Language for #307: Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees.

Last year, California provided $3 million in funding to CCC and California State Universities to replace traditional textbooks with free and/or low cost textbooks. Colleges will learn in August if they will receive these up to $50,000 grants.

News of this funding follows the recent announcement of the OER degree initiative from Achieving the Dream (ATD), in partnership with Lumen Learning, the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources and SRI. Grants of up to $100,000 have been awarded to 38 community colleges nationally. See http://oerdegrees.org/ for more information about the program.

What is Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree program?
With increasing costs of textbooks and instructional materials, colleges have been promoting adoption of open educational resources to make sure all students have equal access to their required textbooks. However, at many colleges, only a few departments have adopted OER so most students still have to buy expensive textbooks for other courses. With the Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree program, students can be assured that all courses in their degree program will use OER-based materials that do not have additional costs associated with them. Recent data suggests that reducing textbook costs through an OER-degree approach improves student completion rates, decreases attrition rates, and positively impacts student persistence and success.

Contact for more information:
Barbara Illowsky: illowskybarbara@fhda.edu

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