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Affordable Learning Solutions / Open Educational Resources

Information about the Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) program and other Open Educational Resources (OERs)

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About Zero Cost & Low Cost Course Materials

California State Legislation, Senate Bill No.1359

Senate Bill No.1359, SB-1359 Public postsecondary education: course materials, states that each campus of the California Community Colleges (CCCs) and the California State University (CSUs) shall, and each campus of the University of California is requested to, do both of the following:

  • Clearly highlight, by means that may include a symbol or logo in a conspicuous place on the online campus course schedule, the courses that exclusively use digital course materials that are free of charge to students and may have a low-cost option for print versions.

  • Clearly communicate to students that the course materials used for the courses identified pursuant to paragraph (1) are free of charge and therefore not required to be purchased.

What kind of course materials count as "Free of Charge" / "Zero Cost"?

A "Zero Cost" course or ZCCM, is a course that does not require the student to purchase any type of course materials to fulfill the course. This can include a combination of any of the types of course materials listed below or have no course materials required.

  • Open Educational Resources that are free for students
  • Digital library resources that are free for students
  • Public domain resources that are free for students
  • Faculty created materials that are free for students (whether they are OER or not)
  • OR, Communicate/designate that no course materials are required for the course

Each campus of the California State University, each participating campus of the University of California, and each community college district shall ensure that these materials comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.) and the federal Copyright Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-553).

What if a course requires students to purchase materials other than textbooks, for example calculators, safety goggles, theater tickets?

Since ZCCM is a “no or zero cost” designation, if a course includes a course materials fee, it cannot be a ZCCM designee. The ZCCM designation cannot be used if students are required to purchase any course materials or supplies (e.g., lab coats, calculators, or goggles).

  • Exception: Scantrons or blue books are generally expected course costs similar to bringing a pen or pencil and notebook paper to class.
  • If your course requires the student to purchase concert tickets or lab coats and the total cost of these materials is less than $50 total, your course can be designated as a Low Cost course, LCCM. 

What kind of course materials count as "Low Cost"?

A "Low Cost" course or LCCM, is a course that costs the students less than $50 dollars in course materials.

Each campus of the California State University, each participating campus of the University of California, and each community college district shall ensure that these materials comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.) and the federal Copyright Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-553).