California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law an unprecedented $115 million investment in the expansion of Zero Textbook Cost degrees and open educational resources at the state’s community colleges. Building on a successful pilot that concluded in 2019, the funding will support the development of degree and certificate pathways that students can complete without spending a single dollar on textbooks. The program will be administered through the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and marks the single largest state investment in open educational resources to date.
“California’s historic investment in Zero Textbook Cost degrees is public policy at its best. It scales up a successful model in response to a pressing challenge, and it invests in changes that will reduce the cost of textbooks for California’s community college students for years to come,” said Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC. “SPARC applauds Governor Newsom for his leadership in fighting the rising cost of textbooks.”
While California’s $115 million investment tops the charts, multiple other states have passed notable open education initiatives this year. Idaho approved $1 million for a new effort to develop Zero Textbook Cost degrees, while New York and Colorado each renewed funding for their successful statewide OER programs. These state-level investments are complemented by continued funding for the federal government’s Open Textbook Pilot grant program, which provides vital support for consortial and multi-state efforts to develop and disseminate open textbooks.