College courses with free books in Mississippi

A new program this fall, spearheaded by the University of Mississippi, will allow students at participating universities and community colleges in the state to enroll in courses that offer free or reduced-cost textbooks with the ultimate goal of creating a pathway to obtaining a degree with limited textbook costs.

Faculty members from Ole Miss, Mississippi State University, Delta State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi University for Women and Northeast Mississippi Community College have signed on for the first phase of the “Z-Degree Mississippi” initiative. The model is based in part on the “Z-Degree” program at Tidewater Community College in Virginia in which students earn an associate degree in business administration with no textbook costs. Mississippi’s program aims to duplicate that with a four-year degree by 2020.

Sharon Morrisey, vice chancellor for academic services for the Virginia Community College System, told Inside Higher Ed that more than 2,500 students have saved a collective $253,400 by forgoing textbook costs.

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