In years past, the California Community Colleges have benefited from funds to promote the adoption of open educational resources (OER) and expand zero textbook cost (ZTC) degrees, but the potential of OER and ZTC have never been fully realized. Intersegmental OER-related efforts were effective in driving OER adoption and ZTC funds served to further advance these efforts.

In 2016 $5 million was appropriated to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to establish the establish the Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant. The use of these funds was described in the Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant Program California Community Colleges 2020 Legislative Report:

The Chancellor’s Office allocated 79% ($3,962,571) of the $5 million appropriation as competitive planning and implementation grants to colleges and districts. Planning grants ($35,000 each) helped institutions identify potential ZTC degree programs and courses, coordinate stakeholders, and prepare for the creation and adoption of effective open educational resources to support the ZTC Program. Implementation grants (up to $150,000 each) enabled colleges to develop and adopt open educational resources in course and program design, ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Copyright Act of 1976, and implement ZTC degree programs on campus.

Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant Program California Community Colleges 2020 Legislative Report (tinyurl.com/2021ZTC) p. 10

Thirty-two of the state’s 115 accredited colleges (approximately 28%) received funds from the first Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant. Of these, nine received only a planning grant of up to $35,000. Thirteen received one implementation grant of up to $150,000. The remaining colleges received both types of grants (8), two implementation grants (1), or one planning grant and two implementation grants (1). During this funding cycle, nothing was done to prevent duplication and no structures were established for ensuring accountability. In addition, no efforts were made to encourage expansion or ensure sustainability. In contrast, the 2021 appropriation that is the focus of this document specifically references preventing duplication, sustainability, and collaboration (tinyurl.com/115forZTC).

During the summer of 2021, the California legislature designated 115 million dollars to expand ZTC degrees in the California Community Colleges. While the language of the bill and legislation is unclear and introduces definitions that conflict with existing definitions of OER and ZTC in California and beyond, it is hoped that appropriate constituencies can collaborate to ensure these funds are spent responsibly with an emphasis on growing the availability of no-cost course sections across the state in a sustainable manner. It is critical to begin by ensuring a minimum level of readiness at the colleges for growing local ZTC efforts and establishing a system for accountability. At present, compliance with related textbook affordability requirements and regulations is inconsistent, as is the level of support for ZTC and/or OER efforts more generally. As a primary goal of expanding the availability of ZTC awards (i.e., certificates and degrees) is to make higher education more affordable, ZTC is associated with textbook affordability and cost transparency in this document.

The OERI Textbook Affordability and Cost Transparency Proposal has been developed by the ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI) and provides recommendations with respect to the use of the allocated ZTC dollars, and data to support those recommendations. Unless otherwise indicated, the recommendations are not formal positions of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC). ASCCC establishes positions through a resolution process that involves delegates from colleges and districts across the state. It is anticipated that the delegates will consider the resolutions contained in Appendix B at the 2021 Fall Plenary to be held in early November and, at that time, formalize support for elements of this document.

2021 Fall Course Schedule Analysis

The ASCCC OERI has conducted an analysis of course schedules to determine compliance with the federal requirement that textbook information be provided to students at the time of registration and California law that requires that no cost (Zero Textbook Cost or ZTC) sections be “marked”. Read more about these course cost-transparency requirements.

Colleges Lacking Textbook Information

Colleges Lacking a Zero Textbook Cost Mark

Mapping OER

While not all courses can achieve ZTC status through the use of OER, the number of courses that can is considerable.

ASCCC OERI OER Collections


California Education Code 78052 – Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant Program (Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 144, Sec. 60. (AB 132) Effective July 27, 2021.)

California ZTC Degree – Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) article.

Zero-Textbook-Cost-Degree Program Legislative Report (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, 2021) An overview of the use of $5 million in one-time Proposition 98 funds that were appropriated to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Budget Act of 2016 to establish the Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant Program (“the ZTC Program”).

California Community College ZTC and/or OER Degrees Pathways

Legislative Report Data

Zero-Textbook-Cost-Degree Program Legislative Report (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, 2021) Appendix B Zero-Textbook-Cost Programs Developed by College

Summary of Associate Degrees for Transfer Developed Under the ZTC Program Established in 2016
(Twenty-three colleges received implementation grants.

Associate Degree for Transfer (AA-T or AS-T)College(s)
Administration of JusticeTaft College
AnthropologyGlendale Community College
Business AdministrationSanta Ana College
Child and Adolescent DevelopmentButte
Computer ScienceSanta Monica College
Early Childhood EducationCollege of the Canyons, Santa Monica College
HistoryGlendale Community College
MathematicsCollege of Alameda, Lake Tahoe Community College
PhilosophyLos Medanos College
Physics (Not confirmed)Santa Ana College
PsychologyButte College, West Hills College Lemoore
SociologyGlendale Community College, Grossmont College

Associate Degree for Transfer – ZTC Pathways in the California Community Colleges

Summary of available pathways. All data obtained from public-facing resources.

College Public-Facing Information

The following was obtained from college websites regarding there no-cost degree pathways. Please share any updates with the OERI. Awards are listed alphabetically within the following categories:

Butte College Zero-Textbook-Cost Program (accessed October 11, 2021); ZTC Program – Degrees and Pathway (Child and Adolescent Development AA-T, Psychology AA-T, Social and Behavioral Science AA, Early Childhood Education Certificate)

Los Angeles Valley College: Textbook Affordability – OER & ZTC @LAVC (Communication Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, and History offer ZTC degree pathways. Although degree type is not specified on the website, AA-T confirmed via personal communication.)

Pasadena City College: OER & ZTC: Open Educational Resources and Zero Textbook Cost Options (Administration of Justice AS-T, History AA-T, Psychology AA-T, Sociology AA-T, Humanities AA, Social and Behavioral Sciences AA, CIS CCNA Certificate, Digitization Skills for Libraries and Cultural Heritage Institutions Certificate, Archives and Digital Collections Assistant Certificate

Saddleback College Zero Textbook Cost Classes (Saddleback offers 26 ZTC degrees and certificates (see website for more details). Child and Adolescent Development AA-T, Communication Studies AA-T, Economics AA-T, History AA-T, Mathematics AS-T, Physics AS-T, Political Science AA-T, Theatre Arts AA-T, Sociology AA-T, Economics AA, English Literature AA, General Studies AAs, History AA, Liberal Studies AA, Physics AS, Theatre Arts Technical Theatre AA, CSU GE Certificate, IGETC Certificate, Aging Studies Certificate, Associate Teacher Level 1 Certificate, Music Production Entrepreneurship Certificate, Music Production Occupational Skills Award)

Santa Ana College – OER Pathways (Business Administration AS-T, Liberal Arts AA)

Skyline College – ZTC for Students (Respiratory Care AS)

West Hills College Lemoore Zero Textbook Cost Degrees (Elementary Teacher Education AA-T, Psychology AA-T, Sociology AA-T)

This page last updated 10-15-21.