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Bill Aims to Abridge College Textbook Costs

If a proposal just introduced in the Washington State House succeeds, students at Eastern Washington University may find it a bit cheaper to earn their college degrees. The bill would set up a pilot program at EWU to explore giving students access to open source course material on the internet, thus eliminating the need to buy expensive textbooks.

A bi-partisan group of state lawmakers from both sides of the state supports the idea, including Representative Kevin Parker, a Spokane Republican. Under the proposal, EWU would award grants to ten professors annually beginning in this academic year, enabling them to develop and write course materials and resources, and to make the work available through the EWU library system.

Bill sponsors hope the university will use an open source plan adapted three years ago by the University of Massachusetts. That program may have saved roughly 700 students more than 72-thousand dollars a year on textbooks alone.

If it works at EWU, the lawmakers would expand it to cover all state universities and colleges.

The bill will likely receive a favorable reception in the House education committee. All the lawmakers endorsing it are members of that committee.

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