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University may reconsider book rental

By Hannah Simpson
Senior Staff Writer

The NC Board of Governors could ask system campuses to reconsider adopting a textbook rental system.            

The Board of Governors has asked that the 16 UNC system campuses each form a Textbook Task Force to research textbook costs and consider implementing a rental system.

A rental system would allow students to rent introductory course books in order to cut costs on rising textbook prices.            

The cost of textbooks could be reduced by 67 percent under the system, said the rental program proposal, which was drafted by the Association of Student Governments (ASG).

The system was initially rejected due to factors such as the start up cost, storage space and the textbook adoption policy, stated a report by the UNCP taskforce to the Board of Governors.            

“I think that was the same conclusion that most other universities came to, also,” said Neil Hawk, vice chancellor for business affairs.

Despite the decision of the task force, the Board of Governors could ask the university to review and reconsider.            

Hawk said that for the purpose of the rental system, professors teaching an introductory course with more than one section will need to agree to use the same book for a minimum of two years.

This contrasts with the adoption policy which allows professors to choose and replace textbooks at their discretion.             “Things change so rapidly today,” Hawk said. “(The textbooks) need to keep the same pace.”

Hawk also said that storage space in the new bookstore might not be enough to accommodate the rental books.  

Hawk distinguished between the full rental program, in which any textbook can be rented and the partial program that UNCP is researching, which permits renting only introductory textbooks.

The report on textbook costs outlined several methods that faculty currently use to reduce prices including not ordering bundled textbooks if the extra materials packaged with the text will not be used for their classes.            

The report said that some faculty distinguishes “required” text from “recommended” text and some  members of the faculty place textbooks on reserve at the library.

The bookstore also offers two opportunities per year for students to win free textbooks.              

SGA President Marvin Jacobs stated at the Jan. 10 meeting that, if the rental system is not accepted, he would like to discard educational discs from textbooks in order to decrease the price of the books.

The report indicates that the UNCP bookstore “charges 5 percent less for used books than any institutionally owned school in the UNC system.”            

“The Financial Aid office randomly samples 50 to 75 students each year. We ask them how much they paid for books each semester.

For the 2006-2007 year, we have estimated that a student will pay about $500 a semester or $1,000 a year,” Bruce Blackmon, director of financial aid, said in the report.

The average cost of textbooks per semester for a full-time undergraduate student since 2003 has increased from $209 to $263 for the fall semester, a chart in the report read.            

The average buy back amount since the same time has increased from $36 to $41 for the fall semester, the report continued.

Appalachian State, Elizabeth City State and Western Carolina currently have a full text book rental system.            

A decision will not be made until after February,  according an article in UNC- Chapel Hill’s newspaper, The Daily Tarheel.

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Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2007
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