Durbin Meets With Open Textbook Pilot Grantees And Students

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Open Textbook Pilot grant recipients, open textbook experts, and college students to get an update on how federal funds are helping students save money.  Over the last two fiscal years, Durbin, along with Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Tina Smith (D-MN), successfully secured $10 million in federal funding to create an Open Textbook Pilot program at the Department of Education.  The Pilot is a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education to create new and expand the use of open textbooks to save students money. 

“One of the most overlooked costs for college students are textbooks, which can cost hundreds of dollars each.  Too often, students are declining to purchase required course materials because of cost and putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage,” Durbin said. “Open textbooks provide an affordable and effective option for students and faculty. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to build on the federal investment in open textbooks in Fiscal Year 2020.”

Photos of today’s meeting are available here.

Attendees of today’s meeting included: the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), U.S. PIRG, Arizona State University (Fiscal Year 2019 Open Textbook Pilot grantee), University of California Davis (Fiscal Year 2018 Open Textbook Pilot grantee), students from University of Illinois Springfield, and a student from University of Connecticut.   

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.  Durbin will be reintroducing this legislation in the coming weeks.

The College Board estimates that the average student at a four-year public institution of higher education should budget $1,250 for college books and supplies during the 2017-18 academic year and $1,420 for students at community colleges.  According to a survey by U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (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.