A new bill could make college textbooks more affordable

The vast majority of students complete their exams honestly. iStock

Getting college students to do their readings isn’t only a struggle because of the subject matter — some students don’t do the readings because they can’t afford their textbooks. About 65 percent of college students skipped buying a textbook because it was too expensive, according to a 2014 survey from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

It’s no wonder why. The average college student spends about $1,200 on textbooks each year, but a new bill, titled the Affordable College Textbook Act, might change that. Introduced last week in the U.S. Senate, the bill would establish a grant program for universities to create textbooks that anyone could access online for free.


The legislation “will help pressure the traditional college textbook market to come up with cheaper alternatives and innovations,’’ Dick Durbin, a U.S. senator from Illinois who is sponsoring the bill, said in a statement.

Durbin introduced similar legislation in 2013, but it languished in Congress. He introduced the new bill because he hopes it’ll be included as part of the larger reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which the Senate is due to consider.

The bill doesn’t mention a specific amount of money to fund the program, but rather instead authorizes it to be funded as needed, Durbin’s press secretary Maria McElwain told The Chicago Tribune.


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