Caroline is a full-time student at College of the Canyons with a double major in Water Systems Technology and Physics.  The following is her story of perseverance over five years and how the Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) degrees helped reduce her costs and streamline her pathway to graduation this spring.  

Textbook Cost Impact

Starting college right out of high school, Caroline began as a part-time student while supporting herself.  She felt isolated and was unaware of the different programs that provide financial and other assistance to students. Her studies were interrupted multiple times over the last five years as she and her family struggled to overcome financial challenges.  The cost of school and textbooks were a real challenge for her; she recalls how one time she and three friends purchased an especially expensive textbook and attempted to share it over the semester. 

“It was like $300 and we were all part-time students working part-time jobs and not making a lot of money so that was like the best option for us but obviously it’s so hard splitting a book four ways.”

Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) Pathways

Due to her family’s financial problems, she was forced to drop out and work full-time to help support them. She saved enough money to return and because the  Water Systems Technology major has become a Zero-Textbook-Cost pathway at College of the Canyons, it is making it possible for her to complete her studies without incurring additional textbook debt.

“With Water Technology, I’m always really happy to take those classes because I know I’m never going to have to pay $300 for a textbook. It’s just a huge relief and it supports me so much in going back to school.”

The faculty in Water Systems Technology provide the open textbooks at no charge to students in a PDF format. In fact, her teacher emailed the textbook directly to students so no one had to wait. Caroline found it so much easier to learn because the faculty helped write the textbook and was able to explain everything clearly which isn’t always the case.

Closing the Equity Gap

Since Caroline has returned full-time to college, she now realizes how many faculty and staff at the college are dedicated to helping students succeed and really care.  She didn’t realize this when she first started college and believes that many other students just like her are unaware as well. If more students realized all the supports available such as ZTC degree programs, it could really improve their ability to stay in school and complete their studies.

“If I had known that there was a whole major degree where I didn’t have to pay for textbooks I would have felt so much more supported.  I probably would have stayed in school and gone full-time because I was going part-time to be able to afford all those. “