WASHINGTON (WMBD)– Senator Dick Durbin introduced the “Affordable College Textbook Act” along with Senators Angus King (I-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Kyrsten Sinema(I-AZ), on Monday.

The legislation would authorize a competitive grant program to support the creation and expansion of textbooks that fall under an open license, allowing readers to access the materials freely.

Specifically, the Affordable College Textbook Act:

  • Authorizes 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;
  • Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be free and easily accessible to the public;
  • Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
  • Improves 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
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.

“Students already are facing momentous barriers to obtaining a college education because of the rising costs of tuition.  On top of this, students are expected to shell out additional dollars to purchase expensive, required textbooks for their coursework,” said Durbin.  “Open textbooks are a tried and true way to save students money while ensuring they have access to quality instructional materials.  I’m introducing the Affordable College Textbook Act again to support students pursuing higher education.”

According to The College Board, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2022-2023 academic year was $1,240 at four-year public institutions.  According to a survey by U.S. PIRG, 65 percent of students decided not to buy a textbook because of the cost, and 94 percent of those students worried it would negatively affect their grade.