In one of its final acts before the end of year, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill, which President Biden is expected to sign into law. SPARC is pleased to announce that the bill includes $12 million in funding for the federal Open Textbook Pilot grant program, renewing this successful program for a sixth year and expanding the positive impact of open educational resources on college textbook costs and student success.
First funded in Fiscal Year 2018, the Open Textbook Pilot is a U.S. Department of Education grant program that supports projects at colleges and universities to expand the use of open textbooks. The newly-approved $12 million in funding—a $1 million increase over last year—brings the program’s total funding to $47 million over six years. The impact of the program is expected to far exceed the original investment, with the current 16 funded projects estimating more than $220 million in eventual student savings on textbook costs. Studies have shown that open textbooks can also have a positive impact on student success metrics, particularly for underserved students.
SPARC is grateful to Senators Dick Durbin, Angus King, Tina Smith, and Kyrsten Sinema, as well as Representative Joe Neguse, who championed the Open Textbook Pilot funding in Congress. These lawmakers are also the lead sponsors on the Affordable College Textbook Act, which would permanently authorize a federal open textbook grant program and take additional steps to make textbook costs more transparent and affordable for students.
The U.S. Department of Education has until September 30, 2023 to award the $12 million in new Open Textbook Pilot funding. The competitive application process is likely to follow a similar structure and timeline as previous years, so prospective applicants are encouraged to review past notices in order to prepare.
SPARC and our allies will continue our efforts to renew and expand funding for the Open Textbook Pilot in Fiscal Year 2023, in addition to supporting reintroduction of the Affordable College Textbook Act in the 118th Congress.