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In this Feb. 18, 2016 photo, textbooks are seen stacked on a table at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Ill. In 2007, the school began the Textbook Rental Option Program to alleviate some of the burden of high textbook prices. (Scott Anderson/NewsTribune via AP)

In this Feb. 18, 2016 photo, textbooks are seen stacked on a table at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Ill. In 2007, the school began the Textbook Rental Option Program to alleviate some of the burden of high textbook prices. (Scott Anderson/NewsTribune via AP)

LASALLE, Ill. (AP) _ High textbook costs are a common complaint among college students, but Illinois Valley Community College has a program in place to alleviate some of that burden.

The Textbook Rental Option Program began in the 2007 fall semester, bookstore manager Lauren Sandberg-Catalina said, and it grows every year.

The program allows students to rent certain textbooks for the semester rather than having to purchase the books and sell them back based on market value.

Students are charged $48 to rent no matter the book and, if the books are returned in good condition, receive $20 back.

It’s proven a popular program, Sandberg-Catalina said.

“It’s unusual for a student not to end up with at least one rental book in a semester, unless they are in a specialized program,” she said. Nearly 3,000 textbooks were rented out this past fall semester.

The program grows every semester, she said. A total of 55 titles were in the rental program during the fall 2015 semester, including four new additions. Those additions alone saved students more than $29,000 through renting instead of purchasing, according to rental program records.

In total, the program saved students almost $190,000 during the fall 2015 semester and more than $1.1 million since 2012.

Combating the Rising Price of Textbooks

Sandberg-Catalina, who has worked at the IVCC bookstore for 18 years, said when she started book prices would go up a dollar or two between semesters.

“Now they’re going up $25 in-between,” she said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the cost of everything – even textbooks. Since 2006, the price of college textbooks has gone up 85 percent, according to BLS statistics – well above the rate of inflation. At that rate, a textbook costing $150 in 2006 would cost over $275 in 2015.

“We look at things differently,” Sandberg-Catalina said about designing the program. True to the community college’s mission, it is about making education affordable.

At IVCC, the program uses a formula to determine what books it can include in the program and be affordable for both students and the bookstore, said Sandberg-Catalina.

“We found there is a $168 floor,” she said. “Any book below that we can make money back renting the book out in six semesters.”

But that doesn’t mean only books costing less than $170 are in the program. The most expensive book in the rental program is an organic chemistry text that retails for $314.

The more expensive books, or less frequently rented, are paid for by the other texts. So while the organic chemistry text, rented by 23 students in fall 2015, may not pay for itself, a literature book costing about $120 rented to nearly 300 more than makes up the gap.

The program works because of faculty buy-in as well. Professors need to use the same edition of a book for years for the economics to work out in the bookstore’s favor.

“Usually instructors are happy to do that,” Sandberg-Catalina said.

The bookstore also offers a book buyback program for books that aren’t rented, but it is done with an outside vendor, Sandberg-Catalina said. The prices on books are based on the market value for them at that moment.

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Source: (LaSalle) News-Tribune, http://bit.ly/1XNJ50l

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Information from: News-Tribune, http://www.newstrib.com

 

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