New zero-cost textbook program saves ACC students more than $2.1 million

Austin Community College students are saving millions of dollars in textbooks costs through new course and degree options known as Z-degrees and zero textbook cost (ZTC) classes.

The courses use zero-cost learning materials called open educational resources (OER). OER provide students openly licensed,  high-quality course materials in place of proprietary textbooks. The materials are available online for free on the first day of class.

“On average, textbooks cost about $100 each. This can be a heavy burden for many students,” says Dr. Gaye Lynn Scott, ACC associate vice president of academic programs. “Z-classes help relieve some of that pressure by offering all course materials at no cost.”

This fall, the college launched two Z-degree programs: the Associate of Science in General Studies and the Associate of Arts in General Studies. Each program provides a zero textbook cost pathway through to completion saving students on average about $2,000 in textbook costs.

"Anytime I can save money, it helps. It can be hard to pay for classes and all the books and materials that we need to go with it,” says Alfredo Hernandez, ACC Z-class student. “These online books make a big difference. And they also help me keep up. Since everything we need is online, I can pull up my textbook on my phone whenever I need."

Since its launch in spring 2017, more than 21,000 students have enrolled in Z-degrees programs and courses resulting in a savings of more than $2.1 million in textbook costs.


Students Enrolled

Total Savings

Number of Course Sections

Spring 2017




Fall 2017




Spring 2018




Summer 2018




Fall 2018








Enrollment for spring 2019 is underway with 400 z-class offerings available. Students may search for zero textbook cost sections by course and campus using the "sort" option in Student Planning.

Z-degree and z-classes are one of several initiatives at ACC designed to save students money on textbook materials. Textbook cost savings across all programs totaled nearly $3 million as of fall 2018.

For more information about Z-degree programs and courses, visit To register for spring, visit