SPARC is excited to share that today the Affordable College Textbook Act was introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. The bill aims to reduce the cost of textbooks by expanding the use of open educational resources on college and university campuses. It was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and Jared Polis (D-CO).
The bill would create a federally-funded competitive grant program for colleges and universities to establish open textbook pilot programs. Pilots would seek to expand the use, creation and improvement of open educational resources on campus, with emphasis on high enrollment subjects and other areas that would achieve the greatest textbook cost savings for students. As a condition of the grants, any educational materials developed would be released under an open license and freely shared with other schools and the general public.
The bill was originally introduced in the 113rd Congress in 2013, and today’s reintroduction signals the continued national significance of open educational resources as part of higher education’s future.
Hundreds of campuses across the country are already leveraging open educational resources to reduce costs for students and improve academic success. From Tidewater Community College’s zero textbook cost degree to Carnegie Mellon University’s innovative Open Learning Initiative, the evidence continues to grow that the future of educational materials can be open — and this bill represents a step in that direction.
While the timeline for advancing any legislation in today’s political climate can be long, this bill provides a key rallying point for the Higher Education Act reauthorization process and also offers a positive model for state legislatures to consider. SPARC is excited to get to work with our allies to continue moving the conversation forward!
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