Open College Textbook Program Aims to Help Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Train and Maintain a Diverse Teacher Workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/14/2021]—U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said today that a nearly $1 million grant will provide free textbooks to students studying teacher education at colleges and universities across Minnesota. 

The $978,332 grant has been awarded to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to support students at Southwest Minnesota State University, St. Cloud State University, Minnesota State University Mankato, Normandale Community College, Century College, and St. Cloud Technical and Community College. 

The grant aims to diversify the teacher workforce pipeline in Minnesota through eliminating textbook costs and lowering the cost of a teaching degree. The free textbooks will cut costs for all students, but will especially help economically disadvantaged students who may otherwise have trouble affording college and finishing their degree. 

“As we emerge from the pandemic and face a national teacher shortage, we must eliminate financial barriers for Minnesota’s future educators,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This program directly responds to students’ financial needs while helping expand our education workforce – a win-win for students and our state.”

“When I meet with college students, one thing they talk about is how pricey their textbooks are and how it’s tough to afford them. Sometimes textbooks are so expensive that students don’t purchase them at all, and try to make it work without the needed material,” said Smith. “Open textbooks can make a huge difference. This federal grant will save students money, help bring down the amount of debt that they graduate with, and help diversify our teacher workforce as students prepare to become educators.”

“Minnesota State is thrilled to receive a federal open textbook pilot (OTP) grant of nearly $1 million which effectively expands our ongoing development of open educational resources and zero-textbook-cost (“Z”) degrees. With the OTP grant, Minnesota State can have a meaningful impact on the affordability of students pursuing teacher education.  I want to thank Minnesota’s congressional delegation for their leadership and support -- this grant will help students across Minnesota for years to come,” said Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra. 

This grant will provide textbooks for six core teacher education courses: Introduction to Education, Foundations of Instruction, Educational Technology, Introduction to Literacy, Introduction to Special Education, and Human Relations and Multicultural Education. It’s estimated that this project will save each teacher education student $500 per year on textbooks.

Sen. Smith has successfully secured funding for the Open Textbooks Pilot program in prior appropriations bills with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The Open Textbooks Pilot program is based on the Senators' Affordable College Textbook Act—a competitive grant program to support the creation and expand the use of open college textbooks. The senators have secured $24 million over the lifetime of the pilot program.

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