California Has Two Bills That Would Make Textbooks Free Online

One of the top complaints among college students and parents paying for their children’s education is the cost. For many colleges and universities, tuition alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Also, spending $300 for a textbook is a cost that — regardless of how outrageous students may think it is — must be paid. Students have to have the textbook to pass the class. Cost is also one of the main deterrents for would-be students who simply can’t afford to go to college.

According to an Associated Press article found in The Sacramento Bee, California legislators are working to reduce the cost of a post-secondary education in the state. They have recently introduced California Senate Bill 1052 and California Senate Bill 1053 that will make textbooks available to students at little or no cost.

However, the reduced price will not apply to every textbook. Part of these bills require the California Open Education Resources Council to create a list of the 50 lower division post-secondary courses in the state with the highest enrollment rates. The bills will then establish a nine-member council to work with colleges and universities, as well as textbook publishers, to determine which textbooks and materials will be required for these 50 courses, and then help develop strategies for production, access, and use that will be cost effective.

The bills will also create the California Digital Open Source Library which will, once the decision about the textbooks for these 50 courses is made, make digital downloads of these textbooks and other required materials available to students at no cost. Students who would rather have hard copies will only have to pay around $20 for the textbooks and other required materials for each course.

The main goal of these two bills is to offset the high costs of fees and tuition associated with a college education. Being able to download textbooks and other required materials for free will save students thousands of dollars, which should enable more people to attend college and earn a degree.

However, according to the Associated Press article, the Association of American Publishers is opposed to the bills. They are saying that many textbooks are already being offered online at lower costs. But despite the opposition from this powerhouse in the textbook publishing industry, both bills passed by overwhelming majorities. The article shows that Bill 1052 passed by a 32-2 vote and Bill 1053 passed by a 33-2 vote.

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