Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Book Rental Program Can Cut Costs for Students

When it comes time to choosing books for their classes, students at the Maricopa Community Colleges now will have an expanded roster of options, including renting their texts, the colleges announced today.

The textbook rental program, called Rent-a-Text, means that instead of purchasing course material, Maricopa students can now rent popular titles at an average cost of about half the new book purchase price. Rent-a-Text is the latest cost-saving program offered by Follett’s Higher Education group, which manages bookstores on the Maricopa campuses.

“We’re committed to making education as affordable as possible,” said Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Rufus Glasper. “Giving students more textbook choices is an increasingly important part of that commitment.”

The colleges’ textbook rental program will:
• Be available to students in-store and online, with in-store pickup;
• Allow students to choose a preferred form of payment, including financial aid and credit and debit cards;
• Allow students the freedom to highlight and make notes within the normal wear and tear associated with coursework;
• Give students the choice to buy their textbook at the end of the term if they decide to keep the book.

Students can purchase new textbooks, but with the cost of some text 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.

In a related development, the colleges and Follett announced a new feature that will make it easier for Maricopa students to choose the right textbook for every class. Now, when a student signs up for a Maricopa course on the My.Maricopa.edu website, they will be shown the textbooks required for the class, along with the “ISBN” number of each textbook, as well as the various purchase options and costs available. This feature is being added in part to comply with a new federal law that requires that colleges and universities provide students with accurate course information, including textbook ISBN numbers and prices.

The Rent-a-Text program is based on a Follett pilot program that saved students at seven schools across the United States 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. “Helping to reduce the costs of education is part of our mission, and we look forward to working with the Maricopa Community Colleges to deliver substantial textbook savings to students.”