Congressman Hinojosa introduces legislation for affordable college textbooks

Congressman Hinojosa introduces legislation for affordable college textbooks
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Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 9:38am

Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX-15) along with U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), introduced legislation designed to help students manage costs by making high quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors and the public for free.

This bill, known as the Affordable College Textbook Act, would create a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education to create and expand the use of textbooks that can be made available online and licensed under terms that grant the public the right to freely access, customize and distribute the material, also known as “open textbooks”. Open textbooks are educational resources that are made available free of charge to the public. This allows professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access these materials as a supplement or alternative to traditional textbooks.

"When buying a textbook becomes a barrier to education you know something has to been changed and that’s exactly what we want to achieve with the Affordable College Textbook Act," said U.S. Rep. Hinojosa. "I have always strived to make college more accessible and more affordable for students and this legislation will lessen the high cost of an important commodity for learning while helping students save money."

A companion bill was filed in the U.S. Senate by Senators Al Franken (D-Minnesota) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Textbook costs, often overlooked, can be a substantial barrier to attaining a college education. I thank Representative Hinojosa, Representative Miller and Senator Franken for supporting this bill that will build on our previous efforts to reduce these textbook costs and ultimately make college more affordable,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

Textbook costs are one of the most overlooked costs of going to college, but they can be substantial and can be a barrier to attaining a college education. According to College Board, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2012-2013 academic year was $1,200.

Making high-quality open textbooks freely available to the general public can significantly lower college textbook costs and increase accessibility to higher education. Open textbooks can also improve learning and teaching through course materials that are more flexible, adaptable, and accessible for professors.
Specifically, the Affordable College Textbook Act:

  • Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students
  • Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public
  • Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks

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