Campus textbook rental program expands for 2011-12 academic year
If there's one thing about college that all students know—it's that textbooks are expensive. The average full-time student at Western Oregon University spends about $1,200 per year for textbooks and course materials. WOU has worked hard to keep the cost of textbooks as low as possible, and that effort has been supported through a recent grant to establish a textbook rental program. The university was one of only two four-year public institutions in the United States to be selected to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education to establish such a program. WOU received a $999,973 grant for this pilot program, and the university will provide an additional $102,500.
As populations of first-generation and underrepresented minority students continue to flourish on campus, the university has established a number of initiatives and programs like these to keep costs manageable and transparent for students. A committee has been formed to determine which classes should be included in the program. It will likely be classes that serve the broadest population of students, such as those falling under the university’s general education requirements. The program began in winter term 2011 with materials for one course. Several courses were added to the list for spring, and that number will continue to grow as the sustainable rental program is defined.
“I am delighted that WOU has been successful in its grant application,” said Mark Lane, bookstore manager. “The WOU Bookstore is run for our students, and looks forward to helping the institution roll out a sustainable rental program. The grant award is the result of positive work between the bookstore, faculty, staff and students, and is the next step in the bookstore’s long term development.”
The WOU Bookstore is the students’ revenue-neutral, institutionally-owned campus store. Over the past three years, the bookstore has increased the amount of money paid to students during buyback by over 30 percent and increased its inventory of used texts by almost 35 percent. Last year, the bookstore formed a new committee with the student government, and rolled out its e-book program this fall as a greener, lower-cost alternative.
According to Dave McDonald, associate provost, “The textbook rental program will enable students to save a significant amount of money by being able to rent textbooks for their courses at less than half the price of purchasing those same books. This opportunity is a wonderful complement to the many efforts of the bookstore and the faculty to keep the costs of text books as low as possible.”