U.S. Representative Bill Foster (Illinois – District 11) will lead a roundtable discussion with educators and students regarding the Learning Opportunities with Creation of Open Source Textbooks (Low Cost) Act.
The roundtable will be 2 p.m. on Friday, April 11 in the Presidents Room, Tower Hall at the University of St. Francis (USF) main campus.
According to a poll conducted by the Horatio Alger Association, 57 percent of high school students are concerned about having enough funds for college. The College Board estimates the average cost of textbooks and supplies for the 2012-2013 school year to be about $1,225. Meanwhile, the median annual household income during this period actually decreased by $3,000. All of these factors taken together indicate that college is becoming less affordable for American families, according to information provided by Foster’s office.
To address these concerns, the Low Cost Act would create a pilot program at the National Science Foundation to produce college freshman-level open source textbooks in physics, calculus, and chemistry. These materials would be posted on a Federal Open Source Materials website and be available for the public to download free of charge.
The bill would also require federal agencies that spend more than $10 million on scientific and educational outreach to use 2 percent of those funds collaborate with the National Science Foundation to develop these open source educational materials.
Providing students and educational institutions with access to high-quality, low-cost, and downloadable educational materials would reduce the overall cost of education. It would also greatly increase the speed with which corrections and new discoveries make it into the classroom, according to Foster.
The University of St. Francis is committed to making college education affordable and accessible for students, according to USF President Arvid Johnson, who noted that 94 percent of USF freshman receive some financial assistance. USF provides more than $16 million annually in institutional funds as gift assistance to students.
“This conversation is an important one, and we appreciate that Congressman Foster is bringing it to USF to hear from our students and faculty,” Johnson said.
The University of St. Francis, at 500 Wilcox St. in Joliet, serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing, health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit www.stfrancis.edu.
Nancy Pohlman, Executive Director of Community Relations
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