College costs have been increased tremendously with the total outstanding student loan debt surpasses $1 trillion in the U.S. Every cost associated with higher learning has steadily increased over the past decade, but none more so than college textbooks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of textbooks went up by 88%, much more than that of tuition and housing costs.
Realizing that college textbooks are prohibitively expensive, states are moving to cut college costs by introducing open-source textbooks. Maryland and New York have announced initiatives that adopt open-source, copyright-free textbooks. Quartz reported:
Open educational resources are materials like electronic textbooks that typically use licenses that are far less restrictive than traditional, copyrighted textbooks. That means they can be limitlessly duplicated and distributed to students, and even revised to suit the needs of a given class. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was a pioneer of this approach when it began making its course materials open to the public in 2001, using Creative Commons licenses and borrowing the ethos of open source programming.
Although the mini-grants are only $500 to $2,500 each, the effort in Maryland is expected to save 8,000 students up to $1.3 million in the Fall 2017 semester alone. That’s a significant amount, but just a drop in the bucket of what students in the state spend on textbooks each year.
“Since 1978, the cost of textbooks has risen 812%, outpacing even the cost of medical services and new housing,” the announcement says. “Nationally, students spend an average of $1,200 a year on textbooks. Within Maryland alone, 2-year and 4-year students spend over $223 million in textbooks.”
The rising college costs are unsustainable. Hopefully, the move by states to introducing open-source textbooks is the first step to reverse the trend.