It's known as the hidden expense of college fees. The soaring costs of textbooks it's making it harder for some students to make the grade.
Textbooks can cost up to $1,000 a semester.
Schools charge hundreds of dollars for a single book--a book that a student will likely only need for one semester.
“Its essentially a four month rental that you're losing a ton of money on,” college senior Andrew Horn said. He says he’s tried to sell his books back but often doesn’t make much money. For his $122 math book, he only got $1.
Throughout school he's made the choice not to buy every textbook because of the expense. “I’d rather take my chances not having what I need for an assignment or two than spending the money for something that I’m not sure how I’m gonna use,” he said.
University of Maryland Provost, Marie Cini, says most students at her school were doing this. Forty percent, to be exact, were either not buying the books, sharing with their friends or buying old versions. “They’re faking their way through the course,” Cini said.
That’s why starting this year, she's made all textbooks free and available online.
“You’re gonna see this sweeping the country,” Cini said.
A group of US Senators are hoping that’s the case. They want to give grants to schools to incentivize them to create online, openly shared, high quality, free textbooks—tailor made to each course. “This is what the 21st century is going to look like,” said Senator Al Franken.
“Instead of buying a $150 book, they could use this free online book.”
They say textbooks shouldn’t be an obstacle but instead a tool to push students forward in achieving their goals.