On the 14th of March, Rep. Susan DelBene (Washington, 1st district which includes Redmond, Kirkland, and Bothell) introduced the “E-BOOK Act of 2014”. The bill has 1 co-sponsor, Rep. Richard Hanna (NY) and was referred to the House subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. The bill will authorize the Secretary of Education to award competitive grants to up to 10 institutions of higher education to conduct pilot programs focusing on reducing undergraduate costs by expanding digital course materials.
H. R. 4259
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 14, 2014
To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to lower the cost of college education by establishing pilot programs to expand student access to digital course materials.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
Section 1: Short Title
This Act may be cited as the `Electronic Books Opening Opportunity for Knowledge Act of 2014′ or the `E-BOOK Act of 2014′.
Section 2: Findings
Congress finds the following:
(1) Rising costs are making it increasingly difficult for students and their families to afford a college education.
(2) In addition to the growing price of tuition, fees, and room and board, the average college student in the United States must also spend more than $1,000 per year on textbooks and supplies.
(3) New learning technologies in higher education provide a growing opportunity to reduce the cost of course materials for students and their families.
(4) All students deserve the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and acquire the skills needed to compete in 21st-century economy.
Section 3: Purpose
The purpose of this Act is to identify savings in the cost of public college education for undergraduate students by funding pilot programs in institutions of higher education to provide expanded access to digital course materials as part of their academic programs.
Section 4: Grants to expand access to digital course materials
Title VIII of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1161a et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new part:
`PART BB–GRANTS FOR THE EXPANSION OF ACCESS TO DIGITAL COURSE MATERIALS
`SEC. 891. GRANTS FOR ACCESS TO DIGITAL COURSE MATERIALS.
`(a) Grants Authorized-
`(1) IN GENERAL- From amounts made available by the Secretary pursuant to subsection (g), the Secretary may award grants on a competitive basis to not more than 10 institutions of higher education to reduce the cost of attendance for undergraduate students by providing such students with expanded access to digital course materials.
`(2) AMOUNT OF FUNDS TO BE AWARDED- The Secretary shall determine the amount of funds to be awarded for each grant based on the number of students to be served under the grant, except that no grant under this section shall be in an amount that is more than $2,000,000.
`(b) Application- An institution desiring to obtain a grant under this section shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such form, and accompanied by such information, agreements, and assurances as the Secretary may reasonably require.
`(c) Preference- In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary shall give preference to applications that demonstrate a commitment to serving disadvantaged students.
`(d) Use of Funds- Each grant awarded under this section shall provide to an institution of higher education funds to support a pilot program for the institution to make digital course materials available to undergraduate students in at least two different academic departments. Such funds may be used for any of the following:
`(1) Purchasing and maintaining electronic equipment or software necessary for the operation of the pilot program, including mobile computer devices and accompanying hardware, software applications, computer systems and platforms, digital and online content, online instruction, and other online services and support.
`(2) Purchasing and maintaining digital and online content for the institution to make available electronically to instructors or students, including paying any copyright fees associated with the digital distribution of physical course materials.
`(3) Hiring staff for the administration of the pilot program, with priority given to hiring enrolled undergraduate students.
`(4) Building or acquiring extra storage space dedicated to equipment used for the pilot program.
`(5) Revising and adapting academic curricula as needed to implement the pilot program.
`(6) Acquiring such other goods or services as the Secretary determines appropriate.
`(e) Reporting Requirements-
`(1) REPORT TO THE SECRETARY- After a period of time to be determined by the Secretary, each institution of higher education that receives a grant under this section shall submit to the Secretary a report that includes–
`(A) an assessment of the effectiveness of the pilot program funded by the grant in reducing the cost of attendance for students;
`(B) an assessment of any impact of the pilot program on student achievement;
`(C) an accounting of the purposes for which the grant funds were expended; and
`(D) any additional information the Secretary reasonably requires.
`(2) REPORT TO CONGRESS- Not later than three years after the end of the first fiscal year in which a grant is awarded under this section, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the effectiveness of the grants. Such report shall include–
`(A) an estimate by the Secretary of the amount of money saved by students who participate in the pilot programs;
`(B) a summary of the best practices developed in the pilot programs;
`(C) a description of the types of digital course materials used in the pilot programs, including electronic books, interactive and adaptive digital learning tools, and open educational resources; and
`(D) any recommendations the Secretary determines appropriate regarding future congressional action related to student access to digital course materials.
`(f) Definitions- In this section:
`(1) COST OF ATTENDANCE- The term `cost of attendance’ has the meaning given the term in section 472.
`(2) INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION- The term `institution of higher education’ has the meaning given the term in section 101(a), except that such term only includes public institutions.
`(3) DIGITAL COURSE MATERIALS- The term `digital course materials’ includes electronic books, portable document format and word-processing documents, Internet websites, interactive and adaptive digital learning tools, open educational resources, and other digital and online educational resources.
`(4) OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES- The term `open educational resources’ means digital course materials that are made freely available online to the public with a permanent copyright license granting advance permission for the public to access, distribute, adapt, and otherwise use the work with appropriate attribution to the authors as set forth in the materials.
`(5) MOBILE COMPUTER DEVICE- The term `mobile computer device’ means an electronic reader or tablet computer.
`(6) DISADVANTAGED STUDENT- The term `disadvantaged student’ means an undergraduate student who is–
`(A) from a low-income family;
`(B) a minority; or
`(C) from an economically or otherwise disadvantaged background.
`(g) Funding- Of the funds made available in appropriation Acts for fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017 for the purpose of making competitive grants to institutions of higher education under this Act, the Secretary may make available to carry out this section not more than $20,000,000.
`(h) Sunset- No grants may be awarded under this section after September 30, 2017.’.