Washington — Students struggling with the high price of college textbooks should not expect a lot of help from the federal government.
That was the message today from U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who faced a series of appeals for help with textbook costs during an appearance at the National Legislative Summit, held by the Association of Community College Trustees.
Students and administrators alike told Ms. Spellings that they were facing unreasonably high charges for textbooks. But she fended them off, repeatedly saying it was not an issue for the federal government as much as for the states and the colleges themselves to deal with.
“I’m having a hard time kind of getting a bead on what would we do, other than bring attention to it, provide leadership, and highlight best practices,” she told one student. “If you have suggestions, other than giant cash infusions around textbooks, I’m all ears.”
One administrator suggested that the secretary support a measure in legislation approved last week by the House of Representatives to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The provision would save students money by requiring publishers to separate materials like CD’s and workbooks that are typically packaged with textbooks. The proposal is not included in the Senate version of the Higher Education Act renewal. Ms. Spellings made no comment on the matter when asked for her support of the House version. —Paul Basken