Text Write Off: Information wants to be free

Is this a blatantly obvious solution for college students’ problem?  Or are most colleges blatantly oblivious to the problems they cause their students?

The state of Rhode Island has acted in the best interests of students over the profitability of book publishers by having its colleges use free and open source text books, which include other materials such as video and results of others’ work.  The estimated savings is predicted to be about US$900 per student and US$5 million in total.  

Needless to say, those who profit from the unnecessary gouging of students won’t like it one iota.  But to those trying to get an education and not carry the burden of excessive student loan debt (or the state not dealing with student loan defaults and needing to give less in grants), it will save money for everyone who matters (i.e. the book publishers’ profits don’t matter).

A possible solution to one college cost problem: free books

College students in Rhode Island will save a collective $5 million a year if a plan to replace traditional textbooks with free materials is effective.

The plan, announced by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo earlier this month, is among a growing number of attempts to encourage college professors to turn to free, open-licensed materials. And, in this case, the effort is being billed as a way to cut the costs of a college education.


“Today’s college students, on average, spend more than $900 a year on textbooks,” Rhode Island College president Frank Sánchez said in an interview with The Hechinger Report. “That just gets in the way of them staying in school.”