U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Polis, Hinojosa, Durbin, Franken, and King introduce bicameral legislation to make college textbooks more affordable

Legislation improves access to free and open-source textbooks, saves students hundreds of dollars per semester

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Washington, October 8, 2015 | comments

Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) today joined with Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) and Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), and Angus King (I-ME) to introduce the Affordable College Textbooks Act, a bill to combat skyrocketing textbook costs by making high-quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors, and the public for free.

Over the last decade, the cost of new textbooks has increased by 82 percent – four times faster than inflation. The Affordable College Textbooks Act creates a competitive grant program to support the creation and use of open college textbooks – textbooks that are available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access the materials.

“In my district, students at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado-Boulder spend thousands of dollars just on college textbooks, and the costs keep going up,” Polis said. “Higher education ought to be accessible and affordable for everyone, and Congress has a responsibility to help lower that cost however we can. Improving access to open textbooks is an innovative way to save students hundreds of dollars a semester. It’s an important step toward lowering the overall price tag on a college degree.”

Polis, a senior member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, is a leading advocate in Congress for reducing the costs of college. He sponsors several pieces of legislation to make higher education more affordable, including the Earnings Contingent Education Loans (ExCEL) Act, a bipartisan bill to streamline the complicated student loan process and peg graduates’ repayments to an affordable percentage of their income.

Polis is also a longstanding supporter of utilizing open-source resources to bring down costs and improve transparency. Earlier this year, he successfully passed an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization to award federal grants for the creation and distribution of open access textbooks. He is also the co-founder of the Congressional Open Source Technology Caucus, which focuses on how open source technology can be used to improve transparency and efficiency within the government.

The full text of the Affordable College Textbooks Act is available here.

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Tags: Education

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