New law hopes to make textbooks affordable

Time to Buy: Textbooks are rising in price, but some are trying to reverse that with lower more affordable pricing. Photo By: Kate Dupon | Photo EditorA new federal law of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires textbook publishers to give detailed information in writing to faculty choosing course material.

Taking affect July 1, the law states textbook publishers must provide a description of content changes, copyright dates of the three previous editions and the price of the textbook.

According to information provided by Vincent Sampson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and Innovation at the Office of Postsecondary Education, publishers must also disclose whether textbooks will be released in other formats and the cost of those formats.

Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center Frank LoMonte said in a statement that releasing this information to the universities will also help inform the students.

“Once the pricing information is in the hands of college employees, then at a public institution, you ought to be able to use open records law to get access to it,” LoMonte said. “If there’s one thing that students universally complain about, at every level of institution, it’s the cost of textbooks.”

Enacted Aug. 14, 2008, the

HEOA is a public law affecting university decisions such as financial aid and student loan discharges for the disabled.

Universities will also be required to disclose textbook International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) online.

Sports Management major Keenan Bowman Jr. said he agrees with the decision to require textbook publishers to disclose information to university faculty members.

“I think it’s a good idea because schools will have more information to decide whether or not they want to update their editions,” said Bowman Jr. “With this information, universities can save lots of money.”

The law encourages universities to disclose information regarding buying used textbooks, buy-back programs and rental options.

Ferris Business Administration major Hieu Trinh said he feels the new federal mandate will give students both more information and resources when deciding to purchase books.

“We need to be made aware of other options when buying textbooks,” said Trinh.

Trinh also said he feels providing universities with information regarding changes made to the course material will allow schools to offer better educations to their students.

“This new law will help students get the best out of their education.” n