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ED Letter Outlines HEOA Textbook Provisions

June 15, 2010

Beginning July 1, textbook publishers and colleges and universities must adhere to new requirements included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) intended to hold down textbook prices. The Department of Education has not promulgated regulations (and is not allowed to do so), but reminded institutions of their responsibilities in a recent Dear Colleague letter.

The Dear Colleague letter (GEN-10-09) lists the responsibilities of each party. Basically, publishers are required to provide certain information to faculty or others at an institution who are engaged in choosing books and other course materials. Institutions must include, to the extent possible, specific information about required and recommended texts (title, author, ISBN, price)along  with its online course schedule so that students can effectively comparison shop. Institutions also need to give their affiliated bookstores information about required and recommended texts and expected class enrollments. 

The detailed requirements are laid out in Section 133 of the Higher Education Act

Please note:  There is a drafting error in the Dear Colleague letter. The last sentence of the section on what institutions must do states that an institution's online course schedule must include information on the number of students enrolled and the maximum student enrollment for each class. That is incorrect:  institutions are required to provide that information to their affiliated bookstores, but do not need to include enrollment information in their class schedules. ED is expected to revise the letter.


Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs