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Education leaders work to make college more affordable with online resources instead of textbooks

Using the readily available online materials is all up to the instructor, though.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Textbooks are not cheap. According to a state audit, by the time a student gets their degree, the total spent on course materials can equal the cost of tuition for an additional semester. 

For some perspective, one semester of in-state tuition at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville costs about $6,000.

Higher education institutions across the state said they are working hard to develop more affordable materials, but it’s a matter of getting some college professors on board to use them. 

“I guess a lot of people don't necessarily realize that textbooks are as pricey as they are,” said Lauren Hopkins. 

Studies done by the Comptroller’s Office of Education found the total cost of textbooks cost the same as an extra semester of tuition by the time a person completes college. 

“Each semester, it's roughly around that 300 to 400 dollar range,” said Hopkins. 

A group of higher education institutions are working on cutting the cost of college materials by developing online content. 

“The Tennessee Textbook Affordability Task Force recently launched an online repository to store these and share these open education resources,” said Dana Brimma, a legislative research analyst. 

Using those materials instead of assigning textbooks is all up to the instructor, though. Hopkins says none of her professors offer that option at this time. 

“It's a little tasking that I have to fork out that extra bit to be able to afford textbooks just to have those classes and be able to succeed in those classes appropriately,” she said. 

Ted Stryk, a professor at Roane State Community College, is all for it. 

“At this point now I don't require the purchase of books in any of my classes, some of them are entirely open educational resources,” he said. 

 Educational leaders are still working on getting more people on board.