The Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R.1811/S.978) would reduce the cost of textbooks at U.S. colleges and universities by expanding the use of open textbooks (and other open educational resources) that everyone can download, edit and share freely to benefit students. The legislation was introduced in the 118th Congress on March 27, 2023 in the Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) as well as Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) in the House.
Write To Congress (Click to Expand)
Subject: Support the Affordable College Textbook Act
I am a _____ working at a higher education institution in the state of ____. I am writing to urge you to co-sponsor the Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R.1811/S.978). The bill would expand the use of open textbooks on college campuses, providing affordable alternatives to traditional textbooks and keeping prices lower for students. Open textbooks are freely available online for everyone to use, and the bill would expand their use by creating a federal grant program and increasing transparency for students and faculty.
I have seen first hand why open textbooks are important. At the institution where I work, students face many financial pressures that impact their ability to succeed in college, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Every semester I see students struggling to access their required textbooks, which can cost $200 or more each, and the equity gap has only increased as students moved off campus. Open textbooks help solve this problem because they are freely available to download, edit, and share to better serve all learners. Grant-funded projects to create open textbooks have proven to save students many times the amount of money invested, and the materials are published freely for anyone across the country to use, saving students even more.
That is why I urge you to support the Affordable College Textbook Act. Thank you for considering my request.
Tweet To Congress (Click to Expand)
Customize the messages below before posting to social media!
- The Affordable College Textbook Act was introduced in Congress! The bill will save students money by expanding the use and awareness of open educational resources. #OER
- Thank you @SenatorDurbin @SenTinaSmith @SenAngusKing @SenatorSinema @RepJoeNeguse for championing #highered affordability for students by sponsoring the Affordable College Textbook Act. #OER
- Hey @insertyourmemberofcongress! Help make college more affordable for students by co-sponsoring the Affordable College Textbook Act and increasing funding for the Open Textbook Pilot in FY24 appropriations. #OpenTextbooksFY24 #OER
About the Bill
The Affordable College Textbook Act seeks to expand the use of open textbooks on college campuses, providing affordable alternatives to traditional textbooks and keeping prices lower. The bill would:
- Authorize a grant program, similar to the Open Textbook Pilot program for which Congress already has appropriated $47 million, to support projects 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;
- Ensure that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be free and easily accessible to the public;
- Require entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
- Improve and update existing requirements for publishers and institutions that provide information on textbook costs, including new disclosure requirements to students on how companies providing digital materials may use student data; and
- Require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.
The Affordable College Textbook Act has been considered in the last four Congresses, showing significant support for the issue of textbook costs and open textbooks as a solution. While the bill’s prospects have been tied to the broader Higher Education Act reauthorization process, the sponsors have worked to deliver immediate results for students by securing annual funding for the Open Textbook Pilot grant program since 2018. Distributed by the U.S. Department of Education, the Open Textbook Pilot has funded 16 projects over four years, which are projected to save students an estimated $220 million—a substantial return on federal investment. The Department also issued guidance for the use of federal COVID relief (HEERF) funds that highlighted open educational resources as a strategy to meet basic student needs.
The use of open educational resources has continued to grow, as more institutions provide support. A 2022 study by Bay View Analytics found that 67% of faculty have some level of awareness of OER, and that 31% of faculty teaching introductory courses have assigned OER in at least one of their courses. There is also strong evidence that the use of OER can significantly increase course completion rates while maintaining learning performance.
College textbook prices have more than doubled in the last two decades according to the Consumer Price Index, and the average student budget for books and supplies at a four-year public institution is $1,240 according to the College Board. Surveys have found that nearly two-thirds of students skip buying required materials because the cost is too high, even though most said they recognize doing so could hurt their grades. According to a 2016 report by U.S. PIRG, an estimated $3.15 billion in local, state and federal student financial aid is spent annually on textbooks.