Why Mark Affordable Courses?

Marking affordable courses increases cost transparency and allows students to better understand and plan for course costs. Legislatures in states such as Oregon, California, Washington, Virginia, Louisiana, Colorado and Texas have mandated the marking of affordable courses.  Marking affordable courses will better align Washburn University with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (20 U.S.C. 1015b), which requires institutions receiving federal funding to provide course material costs to students for the purpose of registration, “to the maximum extent practicable.”  Washburn University will include a Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) course marking in the Fall 2022 class schedule.

What is OER?

The Open Educational Resource (OER) movement is closely connected to the growing course marking initiatives around the United States. OER reduces course costs by replacing costly traditional course materials with materials that fall under the widely adopted definition of OER as, “teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities—retaining, remixing, revising, reusing and redistributing the resources” (hewlet.org). OER increases student equity, offering free and immediate access to course materials. To learn more about Open Education initiatives at Washburn University visit washburn.edu/open.

What is ZTC?

ZTC means Zero Textbook Costs. Students in a ZTC course are not required to purchase primary materials for teaching and learning, such as:

  • Textbooks and other printed materials (such as novels)
  • Digital books
  • Learning platforms, homework systems

Courses marked as ZTC may still include a cost for technology and supplies. Technology and supplies are not considered course materials for the purposes of course marking and may include:

  • Clickers
  • Lab safety gear
  • Art supplies
  • Required software
  • Professional organization memberships
  • Required calculators and other technology

How Courses are Marked

Classes identified as those using ZTC materials are marked in the university course schedule with the following icon:

ZTC Icon: ZTC courses are more affordable, using resources with Zero Cost ($0.00) as required materials. Course materials are defined as textbooks, workbooks, homework systems, and other learning content. Technology and supplies are not included in this definition and are not addressed by this initiative.

Here is an example of what it looks like in the schedule:

How the ZTC Icon looks in the catalog

A course section without an icon may become a ZTC section if the instructor reports the course as ZTC. Similarly, it is possible that a course marked ZTC could lose that designation if the adoption changes.


The ZTC course marking icon will be deployed for the Fall 2022 class schedule. Due to overlapping timelines for reporting material adoptions and active enrollment, courses will be marked according to the best information available. Markings are subject to change as new information becomes available.

How to submit a course as ZTC with the Ichabod Shop

View instructions on how to submit a course (PDF).

Questions about Open Educational Resources or Zero Textbook Cost course marking?

Email: oer@washburn.edu

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