Textbook rentals help community colleges reduce students’ costs

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In its first semester of operation, a new Rent-a-Text program saved Maricopa Community College students $1.14 million, compared to the price of buying new texts.

That was good news for Kyrene Corridor students attending any of the Maricopa system colleges.

The figures were reported by Follett’s Higher Education Group, which manages bookstores for the Maricopa colleges. Rent-a-Text means that instead of purchasing course material, students can rent popular titles at an average cost of about half the purchase price of new editions.

Statistics show that during the semester, Maricopa students paid a total of $933,000 for rental textbooks, $1.14 million less than would have been paid for new texts. About 24 percent of book titles in use across the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges were available as rentals.

“We said we’ve made a commitment to making education as affordable as possible, and these results show we’re delivering” said Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Rufus Glasper. “A text rental program gives students more choices, so they can get the educational materials they need in the way that best fits their needs.”

The textbook rental program is available to students in-store and online, with in-store pickup;

allows students to choose a preferred form of payment, including financial aid and credit and debit cards; provides the freedom to highlight and make notes within the normal wear and tear associated with coursework; and gives students the choice to buy their textbook at the end of the term if they decide to keep it.

Students can purchase new textbooks, however with the cost of some texts exceeding $100, that can be an expensive option, even if the students plan to sell their books back to the bookstore. In many cases, they can reduce their initial outlay by purchasing used books.

However, renting the text offers students the advantage of less expensive initial costs, without the worry of whether they will be able to sell their books back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.

The Rent-a-Text program is based on a pilot program that saved students at seven schools across the U.S. nearly $2 million on course materials in just one semester.

Follett said that more than 90 percent of participants surveyed expressed satisfaction with the pilot program.

“We’ve been at the forefront of cost savings programs for more than a century,” said Thomas A. Christopher, president of Follett Higher Education Group.

“These results show that we’re helping to reduce the costs of education for students of the Maricopa Community Colleges.”

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