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Renting Course Materials Saves Students Money

IMG_9242The SMCCD Bookstores’ rental program began in 2005 with just 35 titles in total at all 3 bookstores and has since grown to include over 1800 titles and saved SMCCD students over $5 million since. These rental books were funded by vendor partners, donors, and the bookstores.

Recognizing students’ need for access to course materials, President Regina Stanback Stroud allocated $100,000 to the expansion of the rental program at Skyline College Bookstore.

From June 2011 through May 2012, $80,000 of the $100,000 allocated by President Stroud was used to expand Skyline College Bookstore’s inventory of rental books. Over the course of this time period, 1065 rental copies over 84 different titles for over 120 different sections were added. Titles varied from courses with high enrollments (such as algebra, chemistry, biology, and anatomy/physiology) to courses with varying titles (such as English and history).

The majority of the titles were chosen based on the frequency of its usage or the projected lifecycle of the edition. The rest were requested for by faculty committing to that particular title/edition or a student approaching asking for it to be made a rental.

Many deans encouraged their faculty not currently using a common title to begin using a common title that was similar to their colleagues teaching the same course. Not only would this create commonality to allow students who need to retake the course to use the same book regardless of the professor but this would increase the amount of used books available for students to purchase and allow for the title to be made a rental so that more students could rent the book. Examples of this were numerous ENGL 110 faculty using Barnet, Little Literature and numerous ENGL 846 faculty using Wiener, Writing Papers in College.

These 1065 rental copies were rented for $55,000 and saved Skyline College students over $145,000 during that 12 month period! If Skyline College’s students had to purchase these same books in that same 12 month period, they would have had to spend almost $200,000.

Combining the savings from these added rental titles to existing rental titles Skyline College students saved a total of over $245,000 over a total 2,739 rental books.

Year

Rented Quantity

Retail New

Rental Net

Savings

Su2010-Sp2011

1979

 $234,115.10

 $62,625.05

 $171,490.05

Su2011-SP2012

2739

 $335,252.22

 $89,359.00

 $245,893.22

 

760

 $101,137.12

 $26,733.95

 $74,403.17

 

38%

43%

43%

43%

In Summer 2012, the remaining $20,000 helped create rental inventory of i>Clickers2, add additional rental copies of various math and science books, and begin the transition to the new editions of existing titles that have been rented for several years. Students who rented an i>Clicker2 saved $11,000 collectively from Summer 2012 – Fall 2012. There were 6 rental clickers left as we entered the 8th week of Fall 2012.

i>Clicker2          

New Price:

 $48.00

       

Rental Price:

 $16.00

       
           

Semester

Available
for Rent

Actual
Rentals

New
Extended

Rental
Extended

Savings
to Students

Summer 2012

251

133

 $6,384.00

 $2,128.00

 $4,256.00

Fall 2012

251

227

 $10,896.00

 $3,632.00

 $7,264.00

Spring 2013

246

143

 $6,864.00

 $2,288.00

 $4,576.00

     

 $24,144.00

 $8,048.00

 $16,096.00

Recognizing that students needed more than just books to succeed in college, President Stroud allocated additional funding to expand the rentals of TI83 calculators. The allocation of $25,000 in late Spring 2012 aided in expanding our TI83 rental inventory from 12 rental calculators to 262 rental calculators. Through the end of Fall 2012, this expanded inventory has saved Skyline College students $17,000!

TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator        

New Price:

 $109.00

       

Rental Price:

 $20.00

       
           

Semester

Available
for Rent

Actual
Rentals

New
Extended

Rental
Extended

Savings
to Students

Summer 2012

262

37

 $4,033.00

 $740.00

 $3,293.00

Fall 2012

243

190

 $20,710.00

 $3,800.00

 $16,910.00

Spring 2013

238

212

 $23,108.00

 $4,240.00

 $18,868.00

     

 $47,851.00

 $8,780.00

 $39,071.00

Starting in Fall 2012, we took the expansion of our rental inventory from a different angle by focusing on our partnership with our system/used book vendor partner Missouri Book Services (MBS). Since the $100,000 in 2011/12 focused on professors with titles that were consistently used; focusing on our partnership with MBS in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 allowed us to offer rentals of titles that are not consistently used by professors (since we could send them back to MBS if we were not using the title in the upcoming semester) and keep the rental inventory as fresh as possible.

This also allowed us to create rental titles for students who approached us regarding their extreme financial needs and needing a rental badly because we were out of an existing rental title. After creating them a rental copy so that they can continue their education; some of these students have been so moved that they have brought me lunch and bought me coffee to show their deep appreciation in the bookstore’s work to help them further their education with minimal impact to their finances.

This new funding method not only helped cash strapped students, but also categorically funded programs, such as Early Childhood Education and Workforce Development, serve as many students as possible with their limited resources.

Using this method, it saved these 2 programs over $7,500. Otherwise the programs would have paid over $9,800 for these 75 copies of books. This helped the two grants control costs and give the most help to students. Credit in ensuring this would be possible goes to Rita Gulli, Aaron Wilcher, and Prof. Kate Browne.

During the 2012/13 academic year, Skyline College student savings from the rental items that were added from the $100,000 allocation in the 2011/12 academic year was $166,767.21. The combined savings for Skyline College students renting their books & course materials was over $307,000.

Year Rented Quantity Retail New Rental Net Savings
Su2011-SP2012

2739

 $335,252.22

 $89,359.00

 $245,893.22

Su2012-SP2013

3687

 $424,271.11

 $116,979.30

 $307,291.81

 

948

 $89,018.89

 $27,620.30

 $61,398.59

 

35%

27%

31%

25%

Going into fiscal & academic year 2013/14, many of the titles that have been consistently rented for the last 3 years will need to be replaced since faculty using them will be transitioning to the forthcoming new edition to keep students up to date on changing information. At this time, courses with books that fit into this category are Biol 250/260 (approximately 50 copies for approximately 11 sections), Biol 110 (approximately 50 copies for approximately 6 sections), Biol 130 (approximately 50 copies for approximately 5 sections), Biol 215 (approximately 20 copies for approximately 3 sections), various BCM courses (if the computer labs are upgraded from Office 2010 to Office 2013/Office 365), and HSCI 130 (approximately 20 copies for 2 sections). This will be done with our continued partnership with MBS and with the $100,000 of lottery funds.

The lottery funds will not only help expand and/or replace existing rental items but will be the seed money in introducing a new item for rent, Chromebooks. This was an idea conceived in partnership with Jim Petromilli, Ricardo Flores, the CTTL, and Skyline College Bookstore. Chromebooks are an “internet device” that helps bring technology and access to people who need something a “little more” than a tablet but “less than” a netbook/laptop. Chromebooks retail for approximately $250 – $300. Approximately $30,000 of the $100,000 will be used to introduce approximately 100 Chromebooks for rent at approximately $30 – $50 per semester. The CTTL has surveyed Skyline College students and many feel that the suggested rental price range per semester is very fair.

The 2013/14 academic year will be an innovative year for rentals.

The SMCCD Bookstore’s course materials rental program has been featured in the San Mateo Daily Journal (http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2005-09-05/college-textbook-woes-answered/48295.html), San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Easing-textbook-sticker-shock-Book-loan-2562153.php), and was the winner of the 2007 NACS Foundation – Martin D. Levine Innovation Achievement Award (http://www.nacsfoundation.org/Awards/InnovationAchievementAward/Recipients.aspx).

Article by Kevin Chak.