New Z-Degree = Zero Textbook Costs!

You might as well keep your $220 full-color American Art History or Greek & Roman Foundations in Architecture textbooks for your home library. Available only in hardcover with a 6th Edition in the works next year, selling your books back to the friendly salesperson on campus is likely to net you a whopping $14.50 at the end of the semester.

College students everywhere have complained for decades of rising costs of the textbooks they are required to purchase for their classes, and rightfully so. Textbooks are frequently overpriced, and the bookstore sticker shock challenges even the most well-planned budgets. Northeast Iowa Community College has a solution and better option for you: enroll on the new Z-Degree this fall! 

The objective of the Z-degree is to save students thousands of dollars in textbook costs over the course of their Associate of Arts program. The “Z” stands for zero, as in zero textbook costs. Over the last decade, the price of college textbooks has soared. Since 2006, the cost of a textbook has increased by 73 percent – more than four times the rate of inflation. Today, individual textbooks often cost more than $200 and sometimes as high as $400. 

“We understand students are already struggling with the cost of tuition, and we wanted to remove the additional stress of textbook costs,” states Kyle Collins, director of online and blended learning at NICC. “Students potentially will be saving upwards of $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.”

The College’s two-year Z-Degree begins this fall and uses Open Educational Resources (OER) exclusively. The texts are digitally accessible within the Brightspace learning management system. Students enrolled in the Z-Degree will earn their degree by completing eight-week classes offered in five sessions throughout the year. The new option is open to all students who want to pursue the two-year associate’s degree, but Z-courses will also be available to all students.  

For more information about the Z-Degree, visit!

2018-2019 Z-Degree Associate of Arts sessions:

First Session: Aug. 22 – Oct. 16, 2018
Second Session: Oct. 17 – Dec. 18, 2018
First Session: Jan. 14 – March 8, 2019
Second Session: March 18 – May 15, 2019
First Session: May 21 – July 15, 2019