The Affordable College Textbook Act
The bill addresses an old problem of high cost of education. There has been attempts to solve the high cost of cost secondary education though enactment of several bills but the problem has not gone away. The problem keep on repeating itself the current resurgence coming because of the increased textbooks prices. The Affordable College Textbook Act's aim is to reduce the cost of textbooks in the United States universities and colleges by expanding the areas in which to use the open textbooks. This also includes many other Open Education Resources that could be shared freely by everyone. Higher education is essential to the future of the workforce, citizenry and the economy of the United States. Many college students cannot access the course materials due to the ever-rising textbook prices.
The Issue with Textbook Prices
The textbooks prices in the recent past have skyrocketed to 88% and the average price of books per student has risen to just over $1200 ("Text of S. 2176 (114Th): Affordable College Textbook Act (Introduced Version) - Govtrack.Us"). There have been some cost-cutting measures such as renting the used books, but still, the used books still become too expensive and unaffordable for many students hence became a barrier to many students learning in the college. The issue had been addressed in 2008 by the Congress through the provisions by the Higher Education Opportunity Act in improving the textbook prices, this was followed by GAO report which concluded that the bill help students save a little in the book sales but still, the bill had little overall control over the total costs of books.
The Impact of Simplified Tax Cuts
Apart from ensuring that the textbooks are made available, the bill also seeks to address the effects of the simplified overall tax cuts which have been proposed under the proposed law, the tuition waiver will be considered a taxable income, will increase the tax bracket for the college students and increase their current tax by over $50000. One example is that for an individual who pays $2000 income tax per year, the person would pay $12000 more per year. If the universal simplified tax bill goes through, it will mean that the graduate students be affected by the increase in their taxes. Therefore, with the GOP tax plan of those who can afford to pay off tuition fees to pay taxes will be able to take the tax waivers and result into a more economically diversified education with more and more people having Ph.D.'s ("Tuition Policy"). Without the intellectual capacity, the country will surely fall to its knees. It is not admissible to the fact that most tuition reductions which take place are done to the institutions which offer medicines to the academic work of the world as the GOP plans to cut funding at the time when STEM research is taking its roots.
One solution to the high costs of textbooks is through the use of technology in reducing the costs and expanding access through the previously drafted open educational resources (OERs). OERs describe the free online resources which could replace the expensive textbooks. The books are to be made available online with less printing costs while allowing students to have the leverage to technology. The major purpose of the bill is, therefore, to expand the use of the OERs to provide the alternative pathways to accessing textbooks and keeping the prices of books relatively low. This is just one of the methods used by Congress to tame the soaring book prices, pushing up the plan to help student access online textbooks for free. According to the College Board, average college student spends $1200 on textbooks and the costs are still rising. With the last decade alone textbooks prices soaring up to a high of 82%. Therefore, the main aim of the bill is to save the students the costs arising from the sales of textbooks ("Text Of S. 2176 (114Th): Affordable College Textbook Act (Introduced Version) - Govtrack.Us").
Online Free Textbooks
The online free textbooks would be made available both online and on free prints. In earlier dates in Durbin, there has been such a program to help the University of Illinois print as much as $150,000 in grants. The money was dispatched by the United States Department of Education. The money was used in free printing and publishing of books for free. Many schools have hence contacted the university and the books are in use till today. Durbin argues that the bill would not just reduce the cost of education but will also ensure that the open materials covered by the programs would be open to the general public.
Affordable College Textbooks Bill to provide the grants that the school could use to publish the online materials that should be free to professors, students and researchers as well. It is the job of the legislation to put pressure on the colleges to come up with a cheaper option to the textbooks for the students, researchers and many other people. The books continue to have high costs which have become a barrier for many students who may wish to have their dreams achieved of attaining a college education.
The High Costs of College Textbooks
The average student used over $1300 in textbooks for a public institution in one year. The high costs of college textbooks is a hindrance to most students who dream of completing the college.
Government Efforts to Address the Issue
Government Accountability Office found out that the new textbook prices had gone up by over 80% between 2012 and 2018 despite the government efforts to have the price transparency increased and provide families with more insight with the information regarding the high costs.
The Potential Savings with Open Education Resources
According to the research by PIRGs, the increased use of Open Education Resources will save the students more than 2 billion dollars annually.
Federal Investments in Open Educational Resources
The federal investments in the expansion of open educational resources could lower the college textbook costs and reduce the further financial barrier to students’ higher education. At the same time will make it efficient to make good use of the tax payer's funds.
The Growth of the Internet and Open Educational Resources
The growth of the internet has enabled easy sharing and creation of digital content which will include the educational resources and help cut the cost of tuition as well.
The Cost Reduction Potential of Open Educational Resources
The use of open educational resources will reduce the cost of the books by 90-100 percent
Benefits of Open Educational Resources
Making the resource for open educational resources could lower the textbooks costs and reduce the financial barriers to the students in higher education at the same time reducing the taxpayers' funds which are directed to education to be used in more beneficial things like making roads and bridges.
The Impact of the Affordable College Textbook Act
The bill therefore will reduce the cost of education by providing free access to education materials which will be provided using a free GPL license. Students will no longer buy essential books, in the process lowering the cost of Post-Secondary education. This will provide a cheaper alternatives to the current approach where students use as much as $2500 annually on textbooks, the student will, instead use free textbooks online, in PDF form.
A grant program which will make competitive entities to make grants to support the pilot programs and expand the use of textbooks with the goal of saving for students. The local government will be involved in the implementation and award of grants to the selected entities to provide free books online and facilitate the payments to the copyrights and patents, sswith the Federal Government playing an oversight role to the implementation. The government will appoint or create new agencies which will track the development of such platforms which will ensure the reading and course materials are available online. The development will be done by the Post-Secondary institutions. The platforms will be developed by higher education entities The grants will be given to the institutions of higher education that may wish to produce open educational materials for learners. Implementation will include a detailed plan to track and promote open textbooks in all post-secondary courses which are offered by the post-secondary education students.
Requirements for Grant Applicants
The institutions should also have an evaluation plan, before creation of the open educational resources, could be used or adapted for the purpose of reducing the cost of education. There should also be a quality review process for the accuracy of the open educational materials which would be created and allocated through the use of grants ("'Affordable College Textbook Act' Proposed To Reduce Costs with Open-License Academic Materials"). There should also be a plan for disseminating the information about the result of the project outside the entities which are eligible and the adoption and promotion of any open textbooks which are adopted and created through the grant by the federal government.
Special Considerations for Grant Awards
While awarding the grants, there should be special considerations which should be met. The applicants to the grants must achieve the greatest level of savings for students during their expanded use of the courses offered through the eligible entries, the entries as shown above are qualified Post-Secondary education institutions. This can be achieved through the production of the high quality of textbooks, the open textbooks should be adapted and used by all the faculty members who are at the eligible entities, the open textbooks should correspond to the highest quality and the enrolment of courses at the higher education institutions. Lastly, the textbooks should be created or adopted by various entities which will include bookstores which will assist in the marketing and distribution of the open textbooks.
Use of Funds
The funds that will be issued under the grant will be used for the following purposes:
- Professional development of the institution's faculties and the staff with the view of the development of new textbook courses and their publications online.
- The creation and adaptation of open resources particularly the use of open textbooks
- Development of tools which will support the creation and online platforms for supporting the distribution of the information resources.
- Partnership with many other entities, which will include institutions of higher education, for-profit organizations, and non-profit making organizations to carry out any activity which is geared towards the development and adoption of the open educational resources.
Licensing and Access to Open Educational Materials
The licensing for the open educational resources will be made available free of charge and will be granted under Free to Use License. The license will include any open website which will be deemed to reproduce and distribute the open materials. The eligible entities will also show the instructions of how the public will have an access to the instructional materials under the licenses shown in the sections above. Furthermore, the eligible entities can show the impact of the project on long-term student learning. All the project costs must be included in the funds and be used in the project as well.
Access and Distribution of the Open Educational Materials
The materials should be accessed and distributed and be made available free of charge. All the materials should be readable in digital format so that everyone can download, edit and redistribute the materials. After the completion of the project, the eligible entity will produce the following: how effective the pilot program will be in expansion and distribution of open textbooks in helping the students save money during their studies. All the costs that will be used, including any volunteer projects and the capital use of the projects.
"'Affordable College Textbook Act' Proposed To Reduce Costs With Open-License Academic Materials". RT International, 2018, www.rt.com/usa/318580-open-congress-textbooks-college/. Accessed 20 Apr 2018.
"Text Of S. 2176 (114Th): Affordable College Textbook Act (Introduced Version) - Govtrack.Us". Govtrack.Us, 2018, www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s2176/text. Accessed 20 Apr 2018.
"Tuition Policy". Ncsl.Org, 2018, www.ncsl.org/research/education/tuition-policy.aspx. Accessed 20 Apr 2018.