Textbook rental programs present a unique opportunity to reduce education expenses as the cost of attending college soars to record heights.
College students are already paying unprecedented amounts in tuition, and while many other expenses like room and board climb, it is easy to overlook the rising prices of textbooks. The College Board estimates that the total cost to attend college increases by four percent every year, while the cost of textbooks has increased 186 percent since 1984. It continues to grow at twice the rate of inflation.
“It’s just crazy,” said Jamey Collins, a senior at The University of South Florida. “My first semester I spent over $800 on books alone.”
Collins’ bookstore shock was an eyeopener that sent this biology major looking for alternatives. She became an early adopter of the USF bookstores new rental program, which started in the fall of 2008 and has seen a significant increase in usage each semester since its inception.
“Renting represents the biggest upfront cost savings to students with the least amount of risk,” said USF bookstore General Manager Nicholas Fagnoli, who estimates that USF rented over 10,000 textbooks last fall.
Renting can save a student over 50 percent off the cost of a new copy of the same book and students are catching on. Thirty-two percent of textbooks leaving the USF bookstore this fall were rentals, up 22 percent from the first year of the program, according to Fagnoli.
“You can rent cars and apartments to save money, so it only makes sense you can rent textbooks too,” said USF senior Eric Alliman.
Students can still write and highlight in rented textbooks and the library of available titles is continuously growing. Fagnoli estimates that 40 percent of the bookstore’s inventory is currently available to rent.
Harder to find titles may be available from internet textbook providers such as Chegg.com, an online student resource that buys, sells and rents textbooks, but also offers students the ability to purchase a rented title at a discounted rate at the end of the semester.
“I rent religiously from Chegg, it’s just so much cheaper,” said Mark Hatch, a junior studying statistics at St. Petersburg College.
Renting is not without risks, however, as losing or damaging a rented textbook can result in higher costs than purchasing it new. The USF bookstore charges 75 percent of the cost of replacement, plus an additional seven and a half percent restocking fee.
For students on a budget, that risk is worth every penny.
The second annual Tampa Bay National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk has found an unlikely supporter this year in the University of South Florida Inventors Club, which hopes to shed light on a serious issue.
The Inventors Club is currently fundraising to donate to the NEDA Walk, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 25 at 10:00 a.m. in the Al Lopez Park.
The group of thinkers, innovators and future business leaders began raising awareness for eating disorders after learning about Bailey Monarch, an 18-year-old who was paralyzed, lost her hair and nearly died as a result of battling anorexia.
“We felt it was important to have some kind of philanthropy,” said Ally Lewis, a USF Inventors Club member who helped organize the club’s involvement in the NEDA Walk.
Lewis, a sophomore double majoring in psychology and molecular biology, said that “when you hear [Bailey’s] story, it’s hard to ignore.”
After getting treatment, Bailey wanted to help other people who struggle with eating disorders. She founded the Tampa Bay NEDA Walk in 2011, raising $33,000.
NEDA Walk Coordinator Cherie Monarch, Bailey’s mother, spoke at the Inventors Club meeting Tuesday, Jan. 31, where she thanked the club for getting involved and expounded upon the dangers of eating disorders.
“Eating disorders kill 10 times more people than car accidents,” Cherie Monarch said. “And if we don’t do something, there will be an entire generation of kids that have eating disorders.”
Monarch estimates that 11 million people suffer from anorexia and bulimia, with around 30,000 Tampa Bay area residents suffering with eating disorders. Without treatment, up to 20 percent of serious eating disorder patients die, a number that drops to 3 percent with treatment, according to NEDA.
“It’s not something that you usually see a USF Student Organization getting involved in,” said Inventors Club Publicity Officer Taryn Dewey. “We wanted to do something a little different.”
The USF Inventors Club, she said, hopes to prove with creativity and ingenuity they can tackle far greater issues than just technological ones.
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