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Low & No-Cost Educational Resources

Guide to finding and using low & no-cost materials, including open educational resources.

Call for Proposals (2023)

The Zero-Cost Course Materials grant program is resuming thanks to funding provided through the Scholar Transformational Impact Fund.
A proposal will be forthcoming in fall 2023 for spring & summer 2024 courses.


Announcement – Call for Proposals

The UC Merced Library invites ladder-rank faculty, lecturers with security of employment (LSOEs), lecturers with the potential for security of employment (LPSOEs), and Unit 18 lecturers to apply for funding to support the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or use of UC Merced Library licensed electronic resources to reduce textbook and learning materials costs to $0 for their students in an undergraduate or graduate course. This funding is available for courses currently using commercial materials or new courses in development.

Instructors who receive awards are required to participate in assessment activities related to the effectiveness of the Zero-Cost Course Materials (ZCCM) grant.

  • Deadline for consideration: Monday, March 27, 2023 (end of day)
  • Notification of funding decisions: Wednesday, April 19, 2023

This award cycle is for proposals that will be implemented in either summer or fall 2023 courses.

ZCCM Grant Program Details

Why might I consider eliminating course materials costs for students?

Removing the financial burden of purchasing educational materials can have a significant impact on student engagement and success. By replacing commercial materials with OER and Library licensed materials, all students are ensured access to course materials, free of cost, before the first day of class. OER materials can be customizable to the teaching style of the professor and to the learning outcomes of a course.


In what ways can I reduce course materials to zero in the ZCCM grant program?

Reducing the cost of course materials to $0 can be achieved

1) through the adoption or modification of Open Educational Resources (OER) or

2) by combining OER and library-licensed resources.

OER are defined as teaching, learning, and research resources that are in the public domain or released under a license that permits free use and repurposing. Examples of OER include complete textbooks, teaching materials, tests, and question banks while library-licensed electronic resources may include journal articles and ebooks.


What award opportunities are available?

Faculty can apply for one of the following awards for replacing commercial materials with zero-cost resources.

1. $1000 one-time award for the adoption of an existing OER and/or use of Library licensed materials.

2. $1,500 one-time award for modifying an existing OER. OER may be modified by editing or creating content such as additional chapters, modules, question banks, or lecture slides.


How can award funding be used?

Award funding may be used for technology, equipment, course-related costs and professional development. Funding is allocated shortly after the award notification and must be used by June 30, 2024.


Who is eligible to apply for funding?

Proposals can be submitted by the following UC Merced academic appointees: UC Merced ladder-rank faculty members, lecturers with security of employment (LSOEs), lecturers with the potential for security of employment (LPSOEs), Unit 18 continuing lecturers, and Unit 18 lecturers. Applicants may submit as an individual or a team.

The UC Merced academic appointee must be the instructor of research teaching an undergraduate or graduate level course.


How are funding decisions prioritized?

Priority will be given to proposals for high-enrollment courses, courses with high-cost savings for students, and courses offered each semester or annually to enable repeated use of zero-cost materials.      


What support is available during this process?

Faculty members awarded funding will receive support from the Library and CETL director James Zimmerman, or designee, to assist with the discovery and evaluation of OER and incorporating zero-cost materials into the curriculum.


What type of assessment is part of this grant?

A librarian will coordinate with you to request a short amount of time to obtain students' feedback on the use of no-cost materials in your course. When possible, the library is also assessing impacts on student outcomes pre and post-ZCCM. Assessment activities evaluating the impact of the ZCCM grant have been approved by UC Merced's Institutional Review Board.       


What has been the impact of this grant program so far? What is the history of this program?

UC Merced's Newsroom featured the Zero-Cost Course Materials (ZCCM) pilot program in March 2022: "Grant Saves Students Thousands of Dollars in Textbook Costs".

The Zero-Cost Course Materials Grant started as a three-year pilot program initiated by the UC Merced Library and the Center for Engaged Teaching & Learning (CETL) in 2018. We acquired (summer 2022) funding from the Scholar Transformational Impact Fund to renew this program.


What important dates and deadlines should I be aware of?

The timeline below shows the important dates for the Zero-Cost Course Materials Grant RFP.

  • Submission Window Opens:  February 3, 2023
  • Information Sessions for Faculty: March 10th & March 16, 2023
  • Submission Window Closes: March 27, 2023 (end of day)
  • Notification of Awards: April 19, 2023

Faculty with successful proposals will implement zero-cost course materials during the summer or fall 2023 semester. There will be future calls for proposals. We anticipate distributing ~$5,000 in faculty grant awards each semester through spring 2025.


How do I submit my proposal?

Complete the updated application form (available in Box for download) and submit to by end of day, Monday, March 27, 2023.


Where can I find out more?

Information sessions about the grant will take place on the following dates via Zoom. Please bring any questions about the program or the application. Sessions are listed below with more details at our Library Calendar.

This guide includes additional information about OER and the impact of OER on student learning

Contact Sara Davidson Squibb, AUL for Research & Engagement ( for any questions about the Zero-Cost Course Materials (ZCCM) Grant or Open Educational Resources (OER).

ZCCM Past Awards

RFP Cycle ZCCM Implemented Course Professor Resource(s)
Fall 2018 Spring 2019 Econ 10, Inferential Statistics Jason Lee Adoption of OpenStax Introductory Business Statistics
Fall 2018 Spring 2019 IH 206, GIS for World History Karl Ryavec Adoption of Mapping Political Economies over Time 
Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Wri 1, Academic Writing  Catherine Koehler, Amy Fenstermaker Updated curriculum using library licensed resources
Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Wri 10, Reading and Composition Catherine Koehler, Amy Fenstermaker Updated curriculum using library licensed resources
Spring 2019 Fall 2019 Phys 8L,  Introductory Physics II Lab Carrie Menke, Toni Stone, Kristina Callaghan, Stefanie Stepp Creation of a new open lab manual
Spring 2019 Fall 2019 Phys 9L, Introductory Physics II Lab Carrie Menke, Toni Stone, Kristina Callaghan, Stefanie Stepp Creation of a new open lab manual
Spring 2019 Spring 2020 Econ 112, GIS for World Economic History Rowena Gray, Karl Ryavec Adoption of OER and library licensed materials
Fall 2019 Spring 2020 Econ 1, Introduction to Economics Jason Lee Adoption of  OpenStax Principles of Economics
Fall 2019 Fall  2020 ME 140, Vibrations and  Control Jian-Qiao Sun Development of an open textbook
Spring 2020 Fall  2020 Bio 001, Contemporary Biology Petra Kranzfelder, Laura Beaster-Jones, Jennifer Manilay, Jessica Blois Adoption of OpenStax Biology 2e
Spring 2020 Fall  2020 Math 131, Numerical Methods Science & Engineering Erica Rutter Modify Tea Time Numerical Analysis (OER)
Fall 2020 Summer 2021 Wri 100, Advanced Writing Iris Ruiz Adoption of OER and library licensed materials
Fall 2020 Fall 2021 CE 10, Surveying and Geomatics Fundamentals Siddaiah Yarra Adoption of OER materials; development of teaching materials
Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Soc 10, Statistics for Sociology Camila Alvarez & Charlie Eaton Development of free software tools, lecture slides, lesson modules, and interactive assignments for Du Boisian methods.
Spring 2021 Fall 2021 CSE 176, Introduction to Machine Learning Miguel Carreria-Periñan Development of a self-standing, open-access textbook.
Spring 2021 Fall 2021 ENGR 57, Statics and Dynamics Siddaiah Yarra Adopt an existing OER.
Spring 2021 Fall 2021 ENG/PHIL 121, Existentialism Nigel Hatton Use of Library e-resources and OER.

ZCCM Grants Resumed

RFP Cycle ZCCM Implemented Course Professor Resources
Fall 2022 Spring 2023 PH 106 Health Policy Susana Ramirez Use of Library e-resources; Longest's Health Policymaking in the United States