book fees

With the start of the school year, parents usually set aside money for back-to-school expenses, including book fees. But thanks to a law passed by Indiana State lawmakers, parents will not have to pay those fees this school year. The bill includes $160 million to cover these costs, starting with the 2023-24 school year.  

According to an article in the Indiana Capital Chronicle, the state came up with the $160 million total by figuring $150 per student for fees times the 1 million-plus students in Indiana.

“This is helpful for families as it relieves a financial burden that so many families face at the start of the school year when it is time for back to school shopping and other preparations to begin school,” said Salem Assistant Superintendent Jill Mires.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Kim Thurston said the school corporation estimates the fees for each school and then the state will reimburse the corporation for those expenses. The school will receive their payment from the state in December. 

Mires said that while those fees are covered this year, there are some allowable fees, including consumables, that may be charged in the future. Schools can also charge for lost or damaged items.

“We are waiting to see how the finances and allocations work out with the state,” she said. “There is no information currently about its continuation. And we will see what happens with this year's funding as we plan for next year.:

Taxpayer dollars already cover textbook fees for students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. The service will now just extend to everyone. According to the Indiana Capital Chronicle, The law defines items covered by the law as “books; hardware that will be consumed, accessed, or used by a single student during a semester or school year; computer software; and digital content.”

Student Chromebooks are included in the fees, as well as advanced placement, dual credit and career technical education courses according to the Indiana Department of Education.