NILES -- The cost of college textbooks is rising faster than the rate of inflation, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, wants college students to get a break.
Ryan has introduced two bills seeking to lower the burden of high textbook prices paid by students.
The Government Accountability Office said the average price of college textbooks is rising at twice the rate of inflation, and students spent nearly $900 for textbooks last year. Textbook prices have nearly tripled since 1987, according to the GAO.
"Students already have to contend with skyrocketing tuition," Ryan said. "It's not too much to ask publishers to keep their prices reasonable. Of course, equally important is the need for college students, faculty and the administration to communicate and cooperate on reducing costs."
Ryan introduced a Textbooks Tax Credit Act last year to allow college students to claim a tax credit of up to $1,000 toward the amount they spend yearly on their textbooks.
It died in committee, but Ryan has introduced it again, along with a second piece of legislation, the Affordable Books for College Act, that would encourage colleges to look into creating campus textbook rental programs.
Ryan said about 40 colleges across the country already operate such programs and they have been shown to save students money.
His bill would provide grants and loans for universities to study and set up their own programs.
Ryan tried to get his Affordable Books for College bill attached as an amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, but Ryan Keating, the congressman's communications director, said the move was defeated because it would have added some cost to the legislation.
Just how much it would cost has not been determined, Keating said, adding that it remains as a stand-alone bill for the House to consider.
Costly new editions
The GAO report said most widely used books have new editions every three years, which cost on average 45 percent more than the previous used edition. Also, more than half the textbooks the GAO surveyed were bundled with ancillary materials such as CD-ROMs and workbooks, which most professors found unnecessary.
"Too often students are required to pay for ancillary materials such as CD-ROMs and workbooks when such materials are neither required nor desired. It's also important to determine whether or not a new textbook edition is required every three or four years," Ryan said.