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Students cut costs on books

TRiP program offers more than 109 college textbooks for rent at a quarter of the shelf price

Posted: March 30, 2009 12:51 a.m.
Updated: March 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

College of the Canyons student Beverly Axen hoisted a textbook in front of College of the Canyons trustees.

"This textbook alone is $179," Axen said, adding that the college course she was taking also required a lab book.

But the returning student and mother of two wasn't complaining about book prices. She was declaring COC's inaugural textbook rental program a success.

"Anything that helps a student succeed helps us all in the end," said Axen, who enrolled in the college to re-enter the workforce.

Axen was one of 84 students to take advantage of COC's new textbook rental program, dubbed "TRiP," that began Jan. 26 at the start of the spring semester.

The program allows students eligible for enrollment fee waivers to cut the high costs of college textbooks by renting books for pre-selected courses at a quarter of the shelf price, the program's leaders said at a joint trustees-Associated Student Government meeting last week.

Students are required to return the books at the end of the semester.

TRiP started after the college identified about 20 classes with 50 or more students eligible for the Board of Governors Enrollment Fee Waiver Program, said dean of student services Michael Joslin.

A total of 109 biology, algebra and health textbooks were available to students for the program's first active semester, but only 48 students participated in the program this semester, Joslin told trustees and students.

The student usage rates for the TRiP textbooks were 67 percent for the general biology course, 64 percent for college algebra and 16 percent for health education.

Dean of special programs Beth Asmus, who oversees TRiP, said the goal is to increase use and to raise the number of textbook titles available to students.

TRiP received $10,000 in funding from the College of the Canyons Foundation and $4,000 from the Associated Student Government, she said.

"Obviously our first and foremost plan is to secure additional funding," said Asmus, who added that the program is requesting grants from both the campus groups for the 2009-2010 school year.

The College of the Canyons Foundation has agreed to match contributions made by the Associated Student Government for that year, Asmus said.

The program was marketed to students through letters to more than 5,000 eligible students, e-mails to instructors of eligible courses and an announcement on the college's financial aid Web site.

Asmus said another goal of the program is to support Section 112 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act passed last year.

It calls for more transparency in pricing by textbook publishers and by higher-education institutions.

Trustee President Joan MacGregor praised the program for its aid to students.

"I think it's a great program," MacGregor said during the meeting. "I know it's a genuine concern across the state as to the cost of textbooks."

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