Funding Treasured Texts

Story by Tara Belles-Elsea, reporter

College Board research shows that students should expect to pay an average of $1,300 during the 2015- 16 school year on textbooks and supplies alone.

“Textbook costs are one of the most overlooked barriers to college affordability,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D IL) said. “Access [to education] continues to get more expensive.” Senate Bill 2176, The Textbook Affordability Act, introduced to the Senate by Sen. Durban, with Senators Al Franken (D MN) and Angus King (I ME). They said the grant program would save students over $1 billion.

The Government Accountability Office states there had been an 82 percent increase in textbook prices from 2002-2012, which resulted in 65 percent of students not purchasing textbooks due to affordability. For comparison, the same report finds that overall consumer prices have risen by 28 percent.

The Textbook Affordability Act was designed to supply grant money to create flexible programs for students and professors by giving open access to more content and more flexible teaching programs.

A date and budget have yet to be set for this program, but it is patterned after the University of Illinois’s program which used $150,000 in federal grant money and created an open, online textbook named, “Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation”, which benefits over 60,000 students.

This can allow students and teachers portable access to textbooks, and could also be used to create customized teaching tools.