Durbin, King, Smith, And Sinema Secure $14 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 Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) today announced the inclusion of $14 million for the Open Textbook Pilot Program in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The funding includes more than $8.2 million in continuation awards to complete funding for the second and third year for awards first funded in Fiscal Year 2021—including a project led by the University of Illinois.  The remaining funds will support a new grant competition for Fiscal Year 2022.


“With the rising costs of tuition, many students decline to purchase required textbooks for their coursework because of the outrageous expense,” said Durbin. “Open textbooks are a proven way to save students money while providing quality instructional materials.  I’d like to thank Chair Murray and Ranking Member Blunt for the bipartisan support they have offered to this critical effort since its creation.”


“Textbooks are a central part of a college education – but for students already struggling to keep up with the high cost of college, they are also one more financial burden to worry about,” said King. “Open textbooks can help solve that problem and ensure that every student can access the instructional materials they need to succeed. The continued support for this program is an important opportunity to support our students, and I am grateful for the continued partnerships of my colleagues in this effort.”


“When I meet with college students, one thing they talk about is how pricey their textbooks are and how it’s tough to afford them. Sometimes textbooks are so expensive that students don’t purchase them at all, and try to make it work without the needed material,” said Smith. “Open textbooks can make a huge difference. This funding will help expand opportunities for students across the country to use open textbooks.”


“Our Textbooks Pilot Program gets results and today’s funds invest in Arizona students’ future success, and cut costs for students as they work to achieve their dreams,” said Sinema.


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 $14 million included in this bill, Durbin has helped secure $24 million for the Open Textbooks Pilot Program over the last four years.  In June, Durbin, along with King, Smith, and Sinema, led 23 of their colleagues in writing to Chair Patty Murray and Ranking Member Roy Blunt urging additional investment in the Open Textbooks Pilot program.


To date, the Pilot has funded projects led by:


  • University of California (Davis)
  • Chippewa Valley Technical College
  • Arizona State University
  • West Hills College Lemoore
  • Middlesex County College
  • Louisiana Board of Regents
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  • Southwest Minnesota State University
  • Framingham State University
  • Yavapai County Community College District
  • Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
  • Linn-Benton Community College
  • William Marsh Rice University
  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
  • Clemson University


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 substantial and can be a barrier to attaining a college education. According to The College Board, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2020-2021 academic year was $1,298 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.