Topeka, Kan. – Washburn announced today, Oct. 27, the establishment of a Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) course marking initiative. Students in a ZTC course are not required to purchase primary materials for teaching or learning such as textbooks. ZTC courses are marked in the Washburn University course schedule with a special icon to make them easily recognizable as students are planning for their classes. The Washburn University Center for Student Success and Retention projects that students will avoid textbook costs of more than $400,000 this semester alone.

     "The cost of textbooks can be an added hurdle when it comes to paying for college,” said Dr. Laura Stephenson, interim vice president of academic affairs. “With this initiative we’re working to keep education more affordable for our students while making sure they continue to have access to the same quality course materials.”

     Washburn University has focused on cutting course costs for the past seven years as Open Educational Resources (OER) started making it a more viable option. ZTC courses utilize OER and other no-cost alternatives to replace traditional textbooks. OER include a wide range of digital materials and are either openly licensed or reside in the public domain. The program creates equal learning opportunities for students from diverse economic backgrounds.  

      Washburn became an active member of the OER task force the Kansas Board of Regents created two years ago. This task force collected data on cost-saving methods for students, reporting that in 2019 48 percent of students in the spring 2019 semester indicated they did not purchase or rent a required textbook due to cost.    

      “Washburn is launching ZTC and working with faculty to choose OER materials in an attempt to eliminate a cost barrier for the success of our students,” said Sean Bird, interim dean of university libraries at Washburn University. “We know eliminating this expense equalizes the learning field from day one for all students, collectively raises GPAs and helps students reach their goal of graduation.”

       In the first semester of the ZTC initiative, Washburn offered 589 ZTC courses. The expectation is that faculty participation in the project will grow after observing the benefits. The goal is that by fall of 2023 a majority of general education classes will adopt this initiative.

       Washburn University was named the top public university in Kansas and the overall 14th best in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report for 2022-2023. Specifically, Washburn was ranked the best public university in Kansas for Lowest Debt and 5th among regional public universities based on the amount graduates borrowed through federal loans.

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For further information, contact:
Joy Bailes
Assistant Director of Public Relations
Telephone: (785) 670-2153
Cell: (785) 230-1648


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