August 02, 2021

Congressman Neguse Secures $12 Million for Open Textbooks Pilot Program in FY2022 Appropriations Bill

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Neguse has secured a significant funding increase for the Open Textbooks Pilot Program at the Department of Education (ED) in the FY2022 Appropriations bills. In April, he sent a letter along with Representatives Ilhan Omar, Mark Desaulnier, Sean Casten, and Peter A. DeFazio, urging increased funding for the program, which has expanded the use of free, open-access textbooks to provide college students with a more affordable alternative to traditional textbooks. Due to Congressman Neguse’s advocacy, H.R. 4502 the Appropriations Minibus which passed the House last week, includes a $12 million increase above current funding levels.

“The need to access textbooks is unquestionable when trying to further one’s education,” says Congressman Joe Neguse. “The open textbooks pilot program has already begun to clear roadblocks to higher education for many students and I am extremely glad that this important program will receive a robust increase in federal funding to provide students with the tools they need to succeed.”

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 further increased financial strain on college students and for many, compromised their ability to pursue higher education.

It is no surprise, then, that in the short time since the Open Textbooks Pilot was created, it has witnessed growing demand. Open textbooks, which are free to the public under an open license, mean that students will not need to forgo buying textbooks because of their cost, and will, therefore, have improved educational outcomes. This program has resulted in an estimated $80 million in savings for students. However, in its most recent competition cycle, the Education Department was only able to fund four additional projects out of 30 applicants. This funding will help expand capacity to meet demand, ensuring students for whom this initiative will be life-changing are not turned away in the future.

This remarkable $12 million increase represents a 50% increase in the $24 million federal investment that has been made in Open Textbooks over the last four fiscal years. 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.