Are You Kidding Me?: Textbook Fees Frustrate Parents

Indiana 1 Of 3 States With Public School Textbook Rental Fees

In the midst of back-to-school season, expenses for clothing, supplies, backpacks, lunchboxes and the like are expected, but some costs catch parents off guard -- such as rental fees for textbooks.

Indiana is one of just three states in which parents of public school students pay textbook rental fees, which typically run from about $100 to $400 each year, depending on the school district, 6News' Dan Spehler reported.

The additional expense is something that people who move into the area may not be prepared for.

Many parents don't understand why books aren't freely available in the state's public schools.

"It is a lot of money," said one public school parent.

The expenses are especially difficult for families with more than one child in school at the same time.

"I think the school should have to help out a little," said one parent. "They don't, so there's nothing you can do."

Asked if she thought it was unfair to charge rental fees for textbooks, Plainfield Community School Corp. assistant superintendent Mary Giesting said, "I don't believe it is. Here at Plainfield, I believe the average cost is about $100."

In some school districts, such as Carmel and Center Grove, textbook rentals for high school students cost up to $400 a year.

"How are we supposed to pay for that? We don't even get to keep them," said one high school student. "It's just really unfair."

With fees to take part in sporting activities, band and other extra-curricular activities, the cost of a "free" public education can add up quickly.

6News contacted state education officials about public school fees, but they declined to comment.

Giesting said that the fees help keep some of the tax burden off people who don't have children, because it keeps funding from coming from the general fund.

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