High cost of textbooks is a barrier to many students. The rising cost of textbooks has prompted national and state efforts to create textbooks that are free to students. California encouraged Community Colleges and CSU efforts to reduce textbook costs through Assembly Bill 798 (AB798) which allocated grant funds to participating colleges. Skyline College joined the ZTC movement in 2016 and received a Zero Textbook Cost Degree - Implementation Phase II grant in 2017 to help reduce textbook costs and create a ZTC degree pathway for A.S. in Respiratory Care. Skyline College launched its first ZTC degree in Fall 2018!

In 2016, SB 1359 was approved and specifically directed CCC and CSU to "Clearly communicate to students that the course materials used for the courses ... are free of charge and therefore not required to be purchased." In order to be compliant with SB 1359, all online Schedule of Classes for CCCs and CSUs must indicate which course sections have “zero-textbook-cost" as of January 1st, 2018.  These sections are searchable and advertised to students in WebSchedule.

We need to know if you have a zero-textbook-cost section/course!

Every semester, please notify the ZTC Team and Skyline Bookstore of all courses/section numbers that are zero-textbook cost by completing the NoviSurvey Course Material Adoption form.

The State has established parameters for what constitutes “zero-textbook-cost”:

  • If all assigned textbooks are optional for the section
  • If all assigned textbooks are identified as Open Educational Resource (OER) textbooks
  • If the assigned textbooks (including course readers) are available online for free (i.e. through library databases) AND students are not required to buy a physical copy.

(Note: for course readers and online materials, faculty are responsible for adhering to Skyline College Copyright and SMCCD Accessibility requirements)

Other considerations:

  • Lab materials or required supplies are not considered a textbook cost, so if a course section meets the parameters noted above, but do require a materials fee – then the section WOULD still qualify textbook cost free per State guidelines. (Note: a lab manual is considered a textbook and must be available to students at no-cost to permit ZTC designation for the class.)
  • If students need to pay fees to access a software platform to do coursework or homework, this counts as a cost.  The course section would NOT qualify.

All course materials used must comply with copyright law and with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Contact the ZTC Team if you are unsure if a section should be considered for inclusion as “no-cost” in the schedule of classes, or if you have any other questions.

Below are listed California and Federal efforts to address high-cost textbook barriers for higher education students:

  • AB 2385 (2018): Existing state law urges textbook publishers to take specified actions aimed at reducing the amounts that students pay for textbooks, including providing to faculty and departments considering textbook orders a list of all the different products the publisher sells. Amendment on 3/19/2018: The amendment would urge textbook publishers to post in a prominent location on their Internet websites, among other things, a detailed description of how the newest edition differs from the previous edition. The bill would authorize the Assembly Higher Education Committee and the Senate Committee on Education to field complaints from students about textbooks for which the publishers’ websites do not contain the described information and would authorize either committee, or both committees to forward the most egregious cases to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee for investigation.
  • SB 840 (2018): This higher education budget bill includes a provision that provides up to $3,000,000 funding in each fiscal year to the California Community Colleges to provide textbooks or digital course content to inmates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation who are enrolled in one or more California Community College courses. To the extent possible, community college districts providing textbooks or digital course content are encouraged to first use open educational resources.
  • AB 1809 (2018): Budget Act of 2018: Among other provisions, this bill would appropriate $6,000,000 from the General Fund to the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges for the 2018-19 fiscal year to support the development of, and expansion of the use of, open educational resources for the California Community Colleges. The bill would require the Academic Senate for the California Community Colleges to submit a report, including specified data related to the progress of supporting and expanding the use of open educational resources pursuant to the bill. This bill also establishes the California Online Community College and requires the college to utilize and leverage the programs and activities of the chancellor’s office, including the Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant Program and Open Educational Resources.
  • AB 97/SB 72 (2017): an appropriations bill that allows funding to be used for increased services for high-needs students, which may include the development of open educational resources and zero-textbook-cost degrees that reduce costs for students. Community college districts utilizing resources for this purpose are encouraged to first develop open educational resources and zero-textbook-cost degrees for courses that are transferable to other schools within the state.
  • SB 1359 (2016): Requires each campus of the California Community Colleges and the California State University, and would request each campus of the University of California, to identify in the online version of the campus course schedule its courses that exclusively use digital course materials, as specified, and communicate to students that the course materials for these courses are free of charge and therefore not required to be purchased.
  • AB 798 (2015): Creates the Open Educational Resources Adoption Incentive Fund to provide incentives and reward campus, staff, and faculty efforts to accelerate the adoption of open educational resources. The purpose of this bill was to reduce textbook costs for college students and encourage faculty to accelerate the adoption of lower cost, high-quality open educational resources.
  • SB 1052 (2012): Established the California Open Education Resources Council. The bill required the Council to determine a list of 50 lower division courses in the public postsecondary segments for which high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials would be developed or acquired. The bill required the council to review and approve developed open source materials, promote strategies for production, access, and use, and regularly solicit and consider, feedback from each of the statewide student associations.
  • SB 1053 (2012): Established the California Digital Open Source Library, under the administration of the California State University, in coordination with the California Community Colleges, for the purpose of housing open source materials while providing an Internet Web-based way for students, faculty, and staff to easily find, adopt, utilize, or modify course materials for little or no cost. The bill required that materials in the library bear a creative commons attribution license that allows others to use, distribute, and create derivative works based upon the digital material while still allowing the authors or creators of the material to receive credit for their efforts.
  • Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008)   ‘SEC. 133. TEXTBOOK INFORMATION.‘‘(a)PURPOSE AND INTENT.—The purpose of this section is to ensure that students have access to affordable course materials by decreasing costs to students and enhancing transparency and disclosure with respect to the selection, purchase, sale, and use of course materials. It is the intent of this section to encourage all of the involved parties, including faculty, students, administrators, institutions of higher education, bookstores, distributors, and publishers, to work together to identify ways to decrease the cost of college textbooks and supplemental materials for students while supporting the academic freedom of faculty members to select high quality course materials for students.

For current information on state and federal support of Zero Textbook Cost and Open Educational Resources please visit: