Textbook affordability legislation introduced (updated with Durbin audio)

By Gary Scott on October 11, 2015 at 9:29am

A U.S. Senator from Illinois is introducing legislation designed to help students manage costs by making textbooks more easily accessible.

The Affordable College Textbook Act, introduced by Dick Durbin and fellow Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota and Angus King of Maine, would create a competitive grant program to support the creation and use of open college textbooks, which are available under an open license, allowing free access.

Durbin noted that in 2012, faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created an open textbook using federal funds that was published electronically for free use.

According to a Senate press release, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2014-2015 academic year was $1,225.

MacMurray College juniors Brady Milnes and Rachel Kerr shared their thoughts on Friday about textbooks.

“Freshman year, I bought them all through the bookstore. Sophomore year, I bought about half-and-half, and this year, I bought them all online,” Milnes says.

Reporter: “What difference does that make?”

Milnes: “I can buy more stuff that I want to, because I save, like, $300 to $400 buying them online instead of buying them at the bookstore.”

Reporter: “What would you do without textbooks? Would you be able to get through your class?”

Kerr: “No, I use them for pretty much every class. Basically, if we don’t have them, we can’t do some of our homework, and we can’t get the grades we need to have.”

The legislation is less likely to impact Illinois College students, as the college announced a change this year in policy that incorporates the cost of purchasing textbooks into tuition.

This bill was originally introduced in the 113rd Congress in 2013, but did not advance. Previous Durbin legislation responded to reports of publishers driving up costs of textbooks by releasing new editions with little new material.

You can find out more about the specifics of the Affordable College Textbook Act of 2015 by visiting this link.