RHINELANDER - Nicolet College doesn't ever want a student to choose between buying a textbook or paying the bills.
But when one textbook can cost up to $300, it's a choice many students face.
"We don't want their grades to suffer. We don't want them to have to make that choice [between] do we take a 'C' or do we get an 'A'? Because we're going to have the materials first day of class now because they're free. They're right there," said Open Education and Instructional Resources manager Cindy Domaika.
Nicolet College is now offering 22 textbook-free courses.
Instead, students can get the material they need online for free using a digital format called "Open Educational Resources" or OER.
"We did a survey of our students at the end of our pilot semester, which was last semester. I'd say 95 percent of our students agreed they were of equal quality if not better quality than the textbooks that we're used to having," said Domaika.
Business Management student Amanda Plouff has taken two classes with OER.
She thinks she has saved more than $400 in textbooks costs this school year.
"Being a mom of three kids and a wife, it's nice to have that cost not be there," said Plouff.
Plouff says she prefers the online format to an actual textbook.
"We don't have to worry about lugging it around with us everywhere we go. I can just pull it up if I'm just sitting there waiting for a kid at the doctor's office or [wherever]. It's really simplified my life to have it available through the online resource," Plouff said.
Instructors can customize the material to the course. Students can access it online or download and save it.
The college hopes to expand to program to more classes as the resources become available.