NICC launching program to get degree with zero textbook costs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

NICC launching program to get degree with zero textbook costs

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How would you like to pay nothing in textbook costs?

That's now possible thanks to a new program at Northeast Iowa Community College.

The school announced their "Z-Degree" program today. The z stands for zero--as in, how much you'll pay for textbooks.

It'll be available for students looking to get a two-year associate's degree.  Instead of textbooks, they'll use open education resources, which are free, and can be downloaded, edited and shared.

"Well for students who are working, juggling work--that's a lot of our students down here, kinda taking night classes. It's one more option. And the fact that it's going to save them's going to mean more people can go to college," said Jordan O'Connell, an enrollment advisor with the college.

The new program is open to all students who want to pursue a Liberal Arts Associate Degree, but Z-courses will be available for open enrollment by all students.

“We really understand that our students are already struggling under the weight of tuition debt, and we wanted to remove the additional weight of textbook costs off their backs and pocketbooks,” states Kyle Collins, director of online and blended learning at NICC, in a press release. “Students could potentially save $3,000 over the course of their Liberal Arts degree. Textbooks are becoming unaffordable for our students, so we decided to use a different approach.”

Not paying for textbooks could mean the difference between going to school or not going to school for many students, O'Connell said.

"It's always a very narrow proposition. You're never really sure what it's going to add up to. You have to look and see what classes they chose, look at the textbooks, look at the cost. It's a thing we do at the very end. Because it depends on what courses they select. But a lot of times that means, oh, $320 a semester? That's too much, I can't take these classes."

The initial 20 Z-degree courses will roll out in 2018-2019.

For more information about this new program, visit

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