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Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) Courses

Part of TESU’s ongoing commitment to developing more affordable pathways to your degree.

Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC)

The University is harnessing Open Educational Resources (OER) and other no-cost alternatives in nearly 90 online courses across multiple areas of study. These courses have zero associated textbook (ZTC) and learning materials cost. 

View Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses now »

We recognize that text book and learning materials costs can be a significant barrier to degree completion. As we continue to work in removing these obstacles by converting existing courses and introducing new ones as ZTC options, we remain focused on the quality and cost effectiveness of our academic programs for students.

Zero Textbook Cost FAQs

Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning materials that are openly licensed under Creative Commons or another similar license. They encompass a rich array of readings, articles, case studies and multimedia components like videos and podcasts that are integrated in your online courses. This will provide you with the freedom to read, save and share the materials however you wish. 
Courses utilizing OER are supplemented with additional resources that exist in the public domain. Some of which include those made available by the Library of Congress, studies and reports conducted by the United States government, and other freely available materials. All resources used in TESU courses are vigorously vetted by research and subject matter experts to ensure the highest quality and application for each course. 


You can save a significant amount of money during your degree journey. According to a 2018 Campus Technology article, Report: Students Prefer Courses that Use Open Educational Resources, students using OERs saved an average of $66 to $121 per course while reporting a boost in their learning experience. We also know that a high percentage of our students avoid buying the assigned textbooks for their courses because they are too expensive. Furthermore, we know that students who intend to purchase a textbook will often delay that purchase until they have received their financial aid package – even though the course has already started. These troubling factors can have a direct impact on student success. 


Depending on the license, OER is not only freely accessible but open for revision and remixing as well. Conventional textbooks can be static and lack consistent updates but OER can be updated to include relevant content as trends change and adapted to accommodate specific course needs. Research and subject matter experts work together to select OER that meet and exceed the highest quality standards expected of courses using traditional learning materials. 


The new ZTC course structures, interface and learning activities will be easy for new students to utilize and will be familiar to any student who has already taken an online course at TESU. The primary difference is, the course materials, which include readings, case studies and associated articles, are integrated into the course itself.  You’ll use the same online learning management system as a central ‘hub’ for all of your course information and are free to export or download the materials into whatever format you choose for reading and review outside of your course space. 


TESU has integrated the ZTC option across all areas of study and an array of popular courses as well as specific disciplines – from A World of Art (ART-100), College Algebra (MAT-121) and Introduction to Biology (BIO-101), to American Government (POS-110), Legal Issues in Healthcare (HCL-704) and Atmospheric Dispersion of Radioisotopes (NUC-501). Visit the Zero Textbook Cost course page to view courses.


Our ability to adopt free learning resources is largely due to the work of the Thomas Edison State University Foundation and our supporters in providing the funding for development, integration and expansion of free textbooks and learning resources for students. With their help, we have surpassed $1 million in money we have saved students in textbook expenses thus far.