Sens. Franken and Durbin propose free textbooks for college

Cost of college textbooks

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - This year the average college student will spend more than $1,200 on textbooks alone, according to College Board.

Prices are expected to keep going up which prompted Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Al Franken to team up on a bill dubbed the Affordable College Textbook Act.

If passed the bill would offer grants to help schools create programs to offer free textbooks, which are called open textbooks. Open textbooks are created for the sole purpose of being free.

Franken touted the University of Minnesota's very own Open Textbook Network which already offers many textbooks for free online or in print for cheap. Twenty-two other schools have signed up for the U of M's network but Franken said more schools and faculty members need to catch up.

"A student said I have to pay $150 for this paperback book and the professor of the course was in the room and said $150 dollars! She didn't know. Isn't that amazing," Franken said recalling a conversation.

The bill doesn't currently have a price-tag attached but the senators believe it's an investment worth making.

"We have to really understand that the traditional textbook market is changing. Let's make it change for the benefit of these students," Durbin said.


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