FY18 Open Textbooks Program Appropriation: The Next Step Toward Textbook Affordability

This post originally appeared on www.uspirg.org

By: Kaitlyn Vitez | March 21, 2018

“A college degree is essential these days, but I can’t get it if I don’t have the books I need to actually succeed in class,” Walter Dodson, a student at the University of Connecticut, told me. “I’m shocked at how expensive college is right now. I can’t imagine how ridiculous it will be in twenty years.”

Walter’s story isn’t unique. Two-thirds of students have skipped buying books because of the high out-of-pocket cost beyond the set price of tuition. But students who don’t buy books repeatedly say they find themselves at a disadvantage in the classroom. With Americans paying off more than $1.4 trillion in student debt, we need to find ways to cut costs so that these students can graduate on time and start paying off those loans, rather than accumulating more debt.

In today’s long-overdue budget bill, Congress set aside $5 million for open textbook initiatives nationwide, which would replace high-cost publisher materials with free materials that can be accessed online or downloaded. The move could save students more than $50 million — an important step toward alleviating the huge burden of paying for college. In such a long and contentious budget cycle, how did we pull it off?

Three weeks ago, students — those millennials who allegedly lack initiative — asked for it themselves.

Read the full post on U.S. PIRG here.

Kaitlyn Vitez is the Director of U.S. PIRG’s Campaign to Save Student Aid

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