Students applaud textbook affordability act

Compiled from staff reports


It’s no secret that the cost of a higher education is skyrocketing, but one often overlooked cost is that of college textbooks. The College Board recommends students budget $1200 a year for textbooks and supplies – and while that may not seem like a lot versus other expenses – textbook prices can be as high as 40 percent of tuition for a community college students, and are high enough that 65 percent of all students have skipped buying or renting the some of textbooks they need.

On October 8, Senators Durbin, Franken, King and Congressmen Hinojosa and Polis introduced new legislation to help tackle the rising cost of college textbooks. The bill, titled “The Affordable College Textbook Act” would create a competitive grant program supporting the expansion of open textbooks – an innovative alternative to traditional publishing methods that could save students thousands of dollars.

“For students and families that are already struggling to afford a college education, it’s not justan expensive textbook anymore – it’s a serious barrier. One thing is clear: the traditional publishing market isn’t delivering the materials students need at prices they can afford,” said Ethan Senack, Higher Education Advocate at U.S. PIRG.

Other lawmakers commented on the issue:“In the ongoing nationwide debate about the rising cost of college, one of the most basic and direct costs to students is often overlooked: textbooks,” Senator Dick Durbin (IL) said. “In 2012, faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created an open textbook using federal funds that was published electronically for free use. At least a dozen schools throughout the country have contacted the University of Illinois about the text or are using it today. The book was also used in a Massive Open Online Course on Coursera that has been sampled by at least 60,000 students.

The Affordable College Textbook Act can replicate and build on the successes we’ve already seen in Illinois. I hope college faculty throughout the country will explore the opportunities that exist today to use open source materials in their courses to save students money and I hope my colleagues in Congress will support this legislation to provide federal support to that effort.”

“During my time in the Senate, I’ve held numerous college affordability roundtables all across Minnesota,” said Senator Al Franken (MN), a member of the Senate Education Committee. “And the reality is that our college students are taking on more debt than ever while also working more and more hours to stay afloat. When it comes to paying for college, one thing that’s often overlooked is the rising cost of textbooks and supplies. By expanding access to free online textbooks, our bill would help address this problem and allow students and families to keep more of their hard-earned money.”



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