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Senator Steps Up to Make Textbooks Cheaper

The cost of college textbook prices is climbing at four times the rate of inflation, according to information released by Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin (D) via the State News Service in April 2007. The average student spends $900 a year on textbooks. This is ridiculous, considering that the average cost of tuition and fees at a public four-year institution is $5,836[1]. That means textbooks make up about 15 percent of the cost of attending college!

Durbin is proposing a bill that aims to make college textbooks and supplemental materials more affordable and easily accessible to college students. The bill is called the College Textbook Affordability Act. If passed, it would:

1. Require publishers to inform college faculty of:

  • A history of the textbook's revisions and whether the textbook and supplemental materials are available in a potentially lower-priced alternative format.
  • The price of the textbooks and supplemental material they are trying to market.

2. Requires publishers who bundle course material to offer the textbooks and supplemental material in unbundled versions.

Ed. Note: Thank goodness for this one! Every one knows that those CDs included in bundled books will just end up being the most expensive drink coasters a college student will ever own.

3. Require colleges receiving federal assistance to include the ISBN and retail price of textbooks and supplemental materials in the course schedule.

Ed. Note: Goody! Now we can compare prices online and order textbooks before we spend hours photocopying the library's edition to study for our midterm. Plus, with ISBNs given to us, there will be no chance of ordering the wrong book.

4. Require schools, when asked, to provide bookstores with access to the course schedule, ISBN numbers of course material, and the maximum and current course enrollment numbers.

Ed. Note: Some colleges already provide this information, but it will make it way more convenient to be able to purchase books in bundles according to each class instead of switching back and forth from window to window comparing total overall prices.

The bill has been ok'd by the Senate and is now waiting for approval from the House of Representatives. For more information about this bill, please visit http://durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=271751.


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[1] According to Collegeboard.com, a Web site that administers admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid and enrollment programs for students. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/pay/add-it-up/4494.html

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