The Open Educational Resources initiative is aimed at reducing the cost of attending a community college campus, where the bill for books and supplies often surpass the cost of tuition and fees. Open educational resources provide students and their families with sorely needed financial relief, largely through the availability of high-quality teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license, such as a Creative Commons license, that permits their free use and repurposing by others. Open educational resources can include full courses, course materials, textbooks, faculty created content, streaming videos and more.

Open educational resources give students more flexibility in learning, and research shows most students perform as well or better using open educational resource course materials compared with students using traditional textbooks.

Key to Open Educational Resources initiative is the Zero Textbook Cost Degree program, which evolved from research showing community college students were not taking classes, completing courses, or securing degrees and certificates because they did not have the money needed for textbooks and materials required for specific courses. This is especially challenging for low-income students and students who are working to support their family.