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United States : King Joins Colleagues to Secure $5 Million for Textbook Grants.

U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today applauded the inclusion of a provision allocating $5 million in additional funding for the continued implementation of the Open Textbooks Pilot in the FY19 Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Package. The Open Textbooks Pilot is a competitive grant program to support the creation and expand the use of open college textbooks textbooks that are available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access the materials.

College is expensive enough textbooks shouldnt drive the price even higher, said Senator King. The Open Textbooks Pilot is an important opportunity to expand the use of free educational resources at schools across the country, making sure that students have affordable access to the tools they need to succeed.

Senator King has been a leader on this issue, along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.). In April, King, Durbin, and Smith led 23 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) pressing them to provide additional funding for the program in the FY19 funding bill.

The program was created with an initial $5 million investment in the FY18 Omnibus. The Department is in the process of reviewing applications for FY18 grants under the Pilot and is expected to announce the first awards soon.

Durbin, King, and Smith, along with Representatives Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ari.) in the House, have been working to ensure the program is effectively implemented by the Department of Education sending letters to Secretary Betsy DeVos in April and August. Todays bill also includes report language to ensure that the Department:

Awards FY19 funds through a new grant competition; Uses the funds to provide a greater number of grants in FY19 at least 20 grants with individual grants amounting to $100,000 to $1 million; Provides institutions at least 60 days to apply for grant funds; and Requires any tools, technologies, or other resources developed with grant funds for use with an open textbooks to also be open and freely available.

The College Board estimates that the average student at a four-year public institution of higher education should budget $1,250 for college books and supplies during the 2017-18 academic year and $1,420 for students at community colleges. According to a survey by U.S. PIRG, 65 percent of students decided not to buy a textbook because of the cost and 94 percent of those students worried it would negatively affect their grade.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Sep 19, 2018
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