In a 2018 survey cited in Inside Higher Education, 43 percent of college students
nationwide reported they had skipped meals in order to afford college textbooks.
New degree programs and courses at Trine University will allow such students to eat
Trine University’s Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Lou Holtz
Master of Science in Organizational Leadership programs, both offered through TrineOnline,
allow students to complete those degrees without paying for textbooks in their core
courses or a large portion of their degree coursework.
Keirsten Eberts, assistant vice president for TrineOnline, said Z degrees, the national
designation for such programs, utilize other resources that work as well as expensive
“The core courses utilize Open Educational Resources (OER), library databases and
faculty-developed content and/or zero-cost resources,” she said.
Trine also offers 46 individual courses online that feature OER — openly licensed
assets used for teaching and learning — and other no-cost resources in place of costly
textbooks. These courses are identified as OER when students register for classes.
With textbook costs averaging about $140 for each course, Eberts said total savings
for the Trine student body could reach nearly $200,000 per semester, just with the
“Student loan debt is a pressing national issue, and many families are facing uncertain
times due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Eberts said. “Reducing
or eliminating textbook costs is one of the many ways Trine University helps students
incur less debt to complete their degrees.”
The university has been working to build OER courses and Z degrees for about a year,
and will monitor usage and outcomes for students who complete these courses. According
to OERdegrees.org, research has found that utilizing OER materials instead of commercial
textbooks results in improved completion rates and better grades for students.
“We are confident that, as we continue to refine our OER courses and materials, we
will see increased positive student outcomes,” Eberts said. “As we move forward and
develop more OER courses and Z degrees, TrineOnline is looking forward to expanding
upon its leadership in this area.”
Last Updated: 04/02/2020