Federal budget proposal would help defray textbook costs

March 20, 2018

A milestone has been reached in the world of open education resources (OER), as reported by John Schoppert, director of library services at Columbia Gorge Community College. After years of effort to obtain federal funding for OER, Congress included funding for $5 million in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill. The funds will support the open textbook grant program.

“This marks the first major investment by Congress explicitly for OER as a solution to the high cost of textbooks,” Schoppert said.

This follows previous government recognition of OER and its benefits in terms of student cost savings. In 2017, the Department of Education enacted policy that all competitive grant recipients apply an open license to create educational resources. In 2015, the Department of Labor adopted an agency-wide open licensing policy which pertained to all grants awarded to community colleges and training institutions through the Trade Act of 1974, as amended in 2009 in the wake of the Great Recession. 

“Columbia Gorge Community College celebrates this Congressional recognition because faculty at CGCC have been adopting affordable textbook alternatives since 2013,” Schoppert said. Through Winter term 2018, CGCC faculty saved CGCC students more than $826,000 in textbook costs through OER or lower priced textbook alternatives, and the number of CGCC OER courses has been steadily increasing each term. In Winter 2018 term alone, CGCC faculty saved students $129,000 in textbook costs.