To kick off Phase 2 of the Michelson Spark Grant program the Michelson 20MM Foundation is proud to announce we will be awarding U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund a $15,000 grant to produce a research paper on the automatic billing framework, also known as “inclusive access”, recently adopted by major textbook publishers.

Automatic billing is the newest tactic that publishers are using to control the textbook market. Under this program, a publisher strikes an agreement with a college’s billing office or bookstore to charge students through a fee on their tuition bill for access codes and textbooks. The report will document the prevalence of these deals at colleges nationwide, and track common, troubling clauses in these contracts. These may include baked-in price increases, quotas, and stipulations on how costs are displayed to students at the bookstore or in the class registration system.

The analysis will also help guide university leadership on common pitfalls that can harm students in such deals, and offer recommendations to ensure that cost savings for students are permanent if such a deal must be entered into.

The Michelson 20MM Foundation has been working, since its inception, toward lowering the cost of textbooks for students, to ensure they are not a financial barrier for those who want to pursue higher education. This grant and the report that will be produced continues that work. As the marketplace for textbooks and educational materials shifts, we will continue to advocate for students alongside partners who are doing similar work such as U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. We are excited for the report to be published later this year.

The Michelson 20MM Foundation and its initiatives are made possible by the generous support of Gary K. Michelson, M.D. and his wife, Alya Michelson.

We will be conducting Phase 3 of the Michelson Spark Grant program in Q1 of 2020. To learn more please visit our webpage or sign up for notifications via the form below.