May 05, 2021

Congressman Neguse Advocates for Open Textbooks Funding in FY2022 Appropriations Legislation

Washington D.C.— In a letter to Appropriators in Congress, Congressman Joe Neguse advocated for the continued support of the Open Textbooks Pilot program at the Department of Education (ED) in the upcoming fiscal year. Over the past four years, this investment has expanded the use of free, open-access textbooks to provide college students with a more affordable alternative to traditional textbooks. Accompanied by Representatives Ilhan Omar, Mark Desaulnier, Sean Casten, and Peter A. DeFazio, the letter requests to further this investment by $25 million in FY2022. 

“The need to access textbooks is unquestionable when trying to further one’s education,” says Congressman Joe Neguse. “Textbook costs can be the sole reason someone is unable to take a class, or attend college completely. This is a roadblock in many people’s path, and as we fight for everyone to have access to high quality, comprehensive education, we must work to clear roadblocks like this. I am hopeful the Open Textbooks Pilot program can continue receiving the necessary funding it needs to provide students with the resources they need to be prepared to succeed in the classroom.”

In the short time since the Open Textbooks Pilot was created, it has witnessed growing demand. In its most recent competition cycle, the Education Department was only able to fund four additional projects out of 30 applicants. To maintain this momentum, Representative Neguse urges for the Open Textbooks Pilot to receive another $25 million. 

According to the College Board, the average college student must budget $1,238 for books and supplies each academic year at a public four-year university. Low-income and students of color are more likely to be negatively affected by not being able to afford materials. The COVID-19 pandemic has already increased financial strain on college students and for many, compromised their ability to pursue higher education. Open textbooks, which are free to the public under an open license, are a crucial alternative. By increasing the availability of free online textbooks, students will not need to forgo buying textbooks because of their cost, and will, therefore, have improved educational outcomes. 

Over the last four fiscal years, the federal investment in Open Textbooks has been $24 million, which has resulted in an estimated $80 million in savings for students. In April 2019, Representative Neguse introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act to reduce the cost burden of higher education for Colorado students and across the country.