ACC’s Z-Degree program awarded prestigious Texas Star Award

The Austin Community College District (ACC) Z-Degree program was recognized as one of the top college programs in the state — awarded a 2019 Star Award by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board during an awards reception Friday, November 22. 

The program reduces student debt by enabling students to complete an entire course of study without having to purchase a single textbook. 

“Paying for college is one of the hardest obstacles students face. I’m proud of the faculty and staff at ACC who are working with students to understand their struggles and finding solutions so they can stay on track and complete their degree without debt,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “The Star Award is one of the most prestigious recognitions any university or college can achieve in Texas. We are honored to be recognized for the second year in a row.”

According to the National Association of College Stores which represents nearly 4,000 campuses in the U.S. and Canada, and approximately 1,000 companies that supply goods and services to campus stores, college students spent an average of $484 on required course materials for the academic year.

ACC’s Z-degrees and zero textbook cost (ZTC) classes use open educational resources known as OER. Enrollment in Z-Degree options is up to almost 4,800 sections to date. Since its launch in 2016, ACC students have saved more than $3.5 million in textbook costs. 

The program was recognized for exceptional contributions toward meeting one or more of the goals of 60x30TX: 

  • Increasing the postsecondary educational attainment level of the state’s 25- to 34-year-old population. 

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

  • Increasing the number of programs with identified marketable skills at Texas public institutions of higher education. 

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

Other winners include El Centro College and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

"The Coordinating Board is proud to recognize three Texas public higher education institutions for innovative programs that support student success and the state's 60x30TX plan," said Commissioner of Higher Education Harrison Keller. "There were many excellent programs to choose from among this year's Star Award finalists, but the ACC, El Centro, and UTSA initiatives are remarkable for their efforts to lower the cost of education, provide job-readiness training and educational pathways, and support high-risk students."

The Coordinating Board received 45 nominations and 37 applications for this year’s Star Award program. 

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