Sending Office: Honorable Jared Polis
Sent By:

Dear Colleague:

We would like to invite you to sign the attached letter urging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education to build on the federal investment in open textbooks by including $10 million for a pilot program for open
textbooks in the Fiscal Year 2019 omnibus.

Textbooks are one of the most overlooked costs of going to college and the burden can be substantial and a barrier to attaining a college education. According to College Board, the average student budget for college textbooks and supplies at a four-year
public institution of higher education was $1,250 for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Open textbooks are educational resources that are licensed under an open license and made available free of charge to the public. This allows professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access these materials as a supplement or alternative to
traditional textbooks.

We were encouraged by the $5 million investment in an open textbooks pilot program in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus, and we invite you to join us in requesting $10 million in the Fiscal Year 2019 omnibus.

If you would like to sign, or if you have any questions, please contact Bo Morris with Rep. Polis ( or Michael Wong with Rep. Sinema ( The deadline to sign-on is COB Wednesday, May 9.

Jared Polis                                                                   Kyrsten Sinema

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress


May 10, 2018


The Honorable Tom Cole                                 The Honorable Rosa DeLauro

Chairman                                                         Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and                 Subcommittee on Labor, Health and

Human Services, and Education                        Human Services, and Education

U.S. House of Representatives                          U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515                                    Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:

Thank you for providing $5 million in the recently completed Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus appropriations bill for a pilot program to support the creation and expand the sustainable use of quality open college textbooks.  We write today to ask that you build
on this initial federal investment by including $10 million in the FY 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) appropriations bill for the pilot program.  Open textbooks help make the cost of college more affordable
for students and can improve educational outcomes by ensuring students are not forced to do without required course materials due to cost.

Textbook costs are one of the most overlooked costs of going to college, but they can be substantial and create an unnecessary barrier to completion.  Unlike tuition and many of the other costs associated with college, students often feel textbook costs
up front.  The College Board estimates that the average student at a four-year public institution of higher education spent $1,250 on college books and supplies during the 2016-17 academic year.  A single book can often cost hundreds of dollars.

And over the years, those prices have continued to climb.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, textbook prices increased by nearly 90 percent between 2006 and 2016.  As a result of these high costs, some students do not purchase
required course materials – putting themselves at an academic disadvantage.  A survey by U.S. PIRG found that 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

Open textbooks – educational resources that are licensed under an open license and made available free of charge to the public – provide quality alternatives to traditional textbooks.  Each time a faculty member substitutes a traditional textbook for an
open textbook, students save money.  But over time, the expanded use of open textbooks has the potential to inject healthy competition into the traditional textbook market – bringing overall prices down.  Open textbooks can also improve instruction by providing
greater flexibility for faculty members to adapt and customize materials to meet their specific needs.

Open textbooks are beginning to be embraced by colleges and universities as both an affordability tool and a way to improve student learning outcomes.  Some states have also begun investing in open textbooks and seen proven results – with projects in North
Dakota and Georgia estimated to have saved students more than ten times the original investment.  Additional federal support at this critical juncture would greatly increase the impact for students. 

Students across the country are calling on us to make college more affordable.  Thank you for hearing those calls in FY 2018 and providing the first ever dedicated federal investment for open textbooks.  We urge you to continue to stand with students and
build on that investment as you develop the FY 2019 Labor-H appropriations bill.

Thank you for your consideration.


Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Education

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