With the national spotlight on college affordability focused on rising tuition costs, another growing financial burden—the price of textbooks—has remained largely in the shadows. The average community college student now spends $1,328 a year on textbooks, up more than 80 percent over the past decade. Nearly two-thirds of students have forgone purchase of a textbook for at least one class, and nearly half say the cost of materials led them to enroll in fewer classes.
Several U.S. colleges are experimenting not merely with controlling or decreasing textbook costs, but replacing textbooks altogether with Open Educational Resources (OER). To nurture and expand such efforts, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) recently launched the Z Initiative—short for Zero-Textbook-Cost courses and degrees, and led by new WCET Director of Open Policy Tanya Spilovoy. Learn more about the Z Initiative here.