As overall costs of higher education continue to rise at an alarming rate, the adoption of open educational resources can provide significant cost savings for all students -- especially those who can least afford additional expenses. That's why Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust was proud to recently partner with Virginia delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41) to support Virginia House Bill 454, which requires Virginia's public colleges and universities to create guidelines for the adoption of open educational resources. After passing the Virginia General Assembly unanimously, HB 454 was signed into law on April 4th.
To address the rising cost of textbooks, colleges and universities across the nation have begun utilizing openly licensed digital textbooks, referred to as open educational resources. These resources provide students easy access to free, high quality learning materials without the significant cost barrier. The College Board estimates that textbooks cost students an average of $1,250 at public, four-year institutions. Similar to tuition and fees, textbook prices have rapidly risen, increasing by 88% over the past 10 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tidewater Community College in Virginia has been a leader in advancing open educational resources and through a partnership with Old Dominion University have created a textbook free pathway to a bachelor's degree that saves students $16,715.
"The high cost of college textbooks is often an overlooked factor of college affordability and student loan debt," said Dr. James Toscano, President of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust. "We are proud to have supported Delegate Filler-Corn in her successful effort to help make college more affordable for students and their families. As our public colleges and universities begin crafting OER guidelines, we are hopeful that implementation will soon follow. Action must be taken to reduce the financial strain placed upon students and their families because of skyrocketing costs within higher education. There is still much to be done to improve affordability, but relieving students of having to pay hundreds of dollars for textbooks is a good start."