Student Government Leaders Unite in Call for Federal Open Textbook Grant Program

For Immediate Release

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members,

We the student government leaders of the undersigned colleges and universities write to you today on the urgent need to address the skyrocketing price of textbooks, and a request to create a national open textbook pilot grants program in the FY18 appropriations bill.

Textbooks and other materials are one of the largest hidden costs students experience in their pursuit of a degree. According to the College Board, the average student budgets $1,250 for textbooks and supplies each year; individual books can cost up to $400. Students have employed various tactics, like buying used and utilizing library reserves, to cut costs, but in an age where access codes hide essential homework assignments behind an online paywall, these measures are becoming less effective. Sixty-five percent of students have skipped buying a textbook at some point because of cost, and each year, $3 billion of federal student aid goes to pay for textbooks, according to the Student PIRGs.

Open textbook can get students the materials they need to succeed on day one of class, for free. Open textbooks are high quality, peer reviewed educational resources that are published under an open copyright that makes them free to download and can be printed at cost. Studies from BYU and Achieving the Dream indicate that the use of open textbooks increases student learning outcomes, lets them take more courses, and graduate on time.

The recently passed bipartisan budget agreement included a commitment for an additional $2 billion in FY18 for “student-centered programs that aid college completion and affordability.” While you work towards a final spending bill for fiscal year 2018, we urge you to support the affordability of higher education on all fronts, including the cost of textbooks. We ask that Congress provide $10 million of this funding to support institutions of higher education in creating new open textbooks and expanding the use of open textbooks at colleges and universities across the country.


Asnuntuck Community College (CT)

                Ryan C. Russin, Student Body President

Association of Big Ten Students

               Samantha Geisinger, Executive Director

Berkshire Community College (MA)

               Don Ross, SGA President

Bunker Hill Community College (MA)

               Eva Montrond, VP of Student Affairs

Emporia State University (KS)

               Megan McReynolds, Student Body President

Illinois State University

               Beau Grzanich, Student Body President

Iowa State University

               Cody West, Student Body President

Kennesaw State University (GA)

               Victoria Brock, Student Government President

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

               Molly Gallagher, Student Body President

Louisiana State University at Eunice

               Lauren Michelle Johnson, Student Body President

Massachusetts College of Art & Design

               Stephanie Houten, Student Government Association President

Massachusetts Bay Community College

               Michael Gallagher, Student Trustee

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

               Samantha Giffen, Student Government Association President

McKendree University (IL)

               Erin Fleshren, Student Body President

Michigan State University

               Katherine Rifiotis, Vice President for Internal Administration

Mount Wachusett Community College (MA)

               Ashley E McHugh, Secretary and Community College Segmental Advisor

Naugatuck Valley Community College (CT)

               Emily Verdosci, Student Body President

North Shore Community College

               Fanny Y. Cai, Student Body President

Northern Essex Community College

               Nathan Miller, SGA President

PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts)

               Zac Bears, Executive Director

Quinebaug Valley Community College (CT)

               Heather Vogt, Student Government President

Rhodes College (TN)

               Thomas A. Mitchell, Student Body President

Rutgers University New Brunswick

               Evan Covello, Student Body President

Rutgers University Camden

               Tooba Hussain, Student Government Association President

Rutgers University Newark

               Adebimpe Elegbeleye, Student Body President

Skidmore College (NY)

               Henry Jaffe, SGA VP for Academic Affairs

Southern Oregon University

               Daryl Maplethorpe, Student Body President

The Pennsylvania State University

               Andrew Uhring, Association of Big Ten Students Executive Board

The University of Oklahoma

               Yaseen Shurbaji, Student Body President

The University of Texas at Austin

               Alejandrina Guzman, Student Body President

Tunxis Community College (CT)

               Andrew A. Albert, Student Government President

University of Alaska Fairbanks

               Molly O’Scannell, ASUAF Student Body President

University of Arkansas

               Macarena Arce, Student Body Treasurer

University of California, Berkeley

               Zaynab Abdulqadir-Morris, Student Body President

University of California, Santa Cruz

               Maxine Jimenez, Student Union Assembly President

University of Cincinnati

               Bashir Emlemdi, Student Body President

University of Colorado – Boulder

               Troy Fossett, Student Body President

University of Connecticut

               Ama Appiah, Chairwoman of Academic Affairs and Student Body President-Elect

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

               Raneem Shamseldin, Student Body President

University of Kansas

               Mady Womack, Student Body President

University of Massachusetts Amherst

               Anthony D. Vitale , Student Government President

University of Massachusetts Boston

               Gray Milkowski, Trustee

University of Michigan

               Anushka Sarkar, Student Body President

University of Minnesota

               Maxwell J. Hurst, Director of Government & Legislative Affairs, Minnesota Student Association

University of North Dakota

               Cole Bachmeier, Student Body President

University of North Georgia

               William Wheeler, Student Government Association President

University of Northern Iowa

               Tristan J. Bernhard, Vice President of Student Body

University of Texas at Arlington

               Katie Gosa, Student Body President

University of Virginia

               Sarah Kenny, Student Council President

University of Washington

               Osman Salahuddin, Student Body President

West Virginia University

               Blake N. Humphrey, Student Body President and President of the Association of Big Twelve Students

Wichita State University

               Paige E. Hungate, Student Body President

Contact: Kaitlyn Vitez, Higher Education Advocate, U.S. PIRG and the Student PIRGs, [email protected]