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Monday, October 19, 2015

Affordable Textbook Act Reintroduced

The Affordable College Textbook Act never got off the ground when it was introduced in 2013. Now, it’s being reintroduced as Congress works on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

The act, sponsored by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN) in the U.S. Senate and Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) in the House of Representatives, would encourage the use of open-access textbooks by providing grants to schools to make free or low-cost digital content available to professors, students, and researchers.

The grant process would allow schools to conduct pilots aimed at expanding the use of open educational resources as a way to lower college expenses to students. Applicants would have to provide estimates on the potential cost savings, with priority placed on programs that save students the most.

Publishers would be required to make all textbooks and educational materials available for sale as individual pieces of content, rather than as a bundle. It also requires the Government Accountability Office to provide updates on price trends of college textbooks.

1 comment:

Inkling said...

The bill's sponsors seem out of touch with technology. Today, anyone can publish textbooks, in print and digital, for virtually nothing. The issue is the marketplace. If a textbook is bad, few professors will adopt it. If it is good, the authors can make far more money by going commercial with it. Most professors are paid so little, they cannot afford to pass up added income.

The real problem is that the traditional cost controls have been removed from getting a college degree. When I went to college, loans were rare. Colleges had to contain costs or lose students. Today, students can borrow, borrow and borrow to cover costs for tuition and textbooks that are going up about three times faster than inflation. It's only after they graduate that they discover that those loans have a huge downside.