Textbooks too expensive? Two lawmakers work on remedies

stack of booksBy Danielle Leibowitz

Do you think you’re paying too much for textbooks? If you say yes, you’re in good company.

Data from the College Board speaks to this cost — during the 2012-2013 academic year, the average cost for college textbooks and supplies was $1,200.

Because of this high expense, the U.S. PIRG reports that 7 out of 10 current college students have skipped buying a textbook.

This data has made it clear that our current system is not working, but thankfully, a couple of U.S. senators are working to mitigate this issue and there is a solution in sight.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Sen. Al Franken recently introduced legislation, known as the Affordable College Textbook Act, that aims to help students manage textbook costs by making textbooks available to the public for free.

To do this, a competitive grant program would be put in place to fund the creation of high-quality “open textbooks” written by professors and organizations.

This initiative is similar to a project that took place more than three years ago when Sen. Durbin worked to secure funding for the University of Illinois to produce a textbook that was used widely by students for free, inside and outside of the University of Illinois.

The Affordable College Textbook Act intends to replicate this success on a larger scale, making college costs more affordable.

It is exciting for me to see this vision become realized as I remember talking with Sen. Durbin about the topic of textbook affordability before this legislation was introduced.

In September, I met with Sen. Durbin and I thanked him for his constant efforts to make college accessible. When he mentioned this textbook legislation he had been working on, I was sure to show support for the initiative on behalf of the students at UIC.

While attending college is still a financial burden for many, there is reason to remain hopeful. As we begin chipping away at the costs associated with attending college, more and more students will be able to attain a college education.


Danielle Leibowitz, an Honors College student majoring in the teaching of mathematics, is UIC’s student member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

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