ACC’s zero-cost textbook program named finalist for Texas Star Award

The Austin Community College Z-Degree Program is recognized as one of the top performing college programs in Texas; named a finalist for the prestigious 2019 Star Award by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The Star Award program recognizes exceptional contributions toward meeting one or more of the 60x30TX goals:

  • Increasing the postsecondary educational attainment level of the state’s 25- to 34-year-old population (Educated Population Goal).

  • Increasing the number of students completing a certificate, associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree from an institution of higher education in Texas (Completion Goal).

  • Increasing the number of programs with identified marketable skills at Texas public institutions of higher education (Marketable Skills Goal).

  • Implementing programs or cost efficiencies that help to ensure undergraduate student loan debt will not exceed 60 percent of first-year wages (Student Debt Goal).

Z-Degree classes use zero-cost learning materials and open education resources (OER) — openly licensed, high-quality course materials — in place of traditional textbooks to save students money. Since its launch in 2016, Z-degree programs and classes have saved ACC students more than $3.5 million in textbook costs. 

The college launched two full Z-degree programs: the Associate of Science in General Studies and the Associate of Arts in General Studies in fall 2018. Each program provides a complete zero textbook cost pathway to completion saving students on average about $2,000 in textbook costs.

“It takes off a barrier that a lot of people probably have a financial barrier. I’m saving at least $200 per class with free textbooks,” says Emilee Carruth, ACC Z-class student. “I don’t have to worry about carrying around heavy books. The text I need is always right there on my phone or computer. It’s very helpful.”

The Coordinating Board received 45 nominations and 37 applications for this year’s Star Award program. Winners will be announced November 22 during the annual Star Awards luncheon and ceremony in Austin. 

For more information about Z-degree programs and courses, visit


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