California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a program designed to allow community college students in the state to earn a degree with no textbook costs. The Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees program would make it possible for students to earn a degree using only open educational resources (OER).
Under the proposal, community colleges would compete for grants of up to $500,000 to offer associate degrees, certificates, or credential programs that students can complete using only free and open textbooks. All of the materials would be available in the California Open Online Library for Education.
“We believe developing OER degree pathways at the community colleges is a reasonable next step,” Stephen Frank wrote in a post for California Political Review.
California is just the latest state to explore this route. The Virginia community colleges system has already funded three rounds of OER grants and begun development of OER degree pathways at each of the system’s 23 campuses. The University of Maryland University College, an online institution, has also announced that all of its degree programs will have zero textbook costs by the fall.