Durbin, King, Smith, And Sinema Secure $12 Million For Open Textbook Pilot Program In Senate Appropriations Committee Annual Spending Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) today announced the inclusion of $12 million for the Open Textbook Pilot Program in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) omnibus appropriations bill.

“With the already high costs of tuition, many students cannot afford 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 encouraged by this large federal investment in the program, which will undoubtedly support so many students in the upcoming academic year.”

“Textbooks are a central part of a college education – but for students already struggling to keep up with the high cost of college, they can be another financial hurdle to overcome,” said King. “I’m glad we could take this step to help more college students access open textbooks and focus on what really matters: their studies.”

“Textbooks are a key part of a college education – but for too many students, their cost is exorbitant and a real strain on their budgets,” said Smith. “We’ve seen how free, online textbooks can make a huge difference: in Minnesota, many students have already benefitted from being able to access free and open educational resources. I’m thrilled that more students will now be able benefit as a result of this funding. It’s a critical step in the effort to lower the cost of college.” 

The Open Textbooks Pilot, based on Durbin’s Affordable College Textbook Act, is a competitive grant program to support the creation and expand the use of open college textbooks—textbooks that are freely available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access the materials.  

In addition to the $12 million included in this bill, Durbin has helped secure $35 million for the Open Textbooks Pilot Program over the last five years.  

These projects are estimated to result in more than $220 million in eventual savings to students. 

Textbook costs are one of the most overlooked costs of going to college, but they can be a barrier to attaining a postsecondary education. According to The College Board, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2022-2023 academic year is $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 90 percent of those students worried it would negatively affect their grade.