DelVal receives a $351,321 federal grant

Jul 14, 2010

By Annmarie Ely

During her freshman year of college Kalina Desseaux, a junior majoring in conservation and wildlife management, shared a textbook to save money.

She is not alone. Because of high costs and a tough economy, an increasing number of students share books or even go without them. Desseaux said she spends between $500 and $600 per semester on books.

But at Delaware Valley College, paying for textbooks is about to get easier.
The college has just been awarded a $351,321 federal grant to purchase textbooks that will be rented to students. The program starts next semester, spring 2011.

The grant is from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. Strategic Plan Implementation Coordinator Roy Ortman, Director of Purchasing William Lyle and Bookstore Manager Robert Hirsch helped DelVal secure the grant.

“We’re excited about the process,” said Hirsch. “We anticipate that this grant will save students an excess of $500,000 within the first two years.”

The grant money covers the cost of purchasing these books for the first two years. The program is designed to generate enough money to pay for itself after the initial first two years.

Rental programs are a rather new trend and are popping up at a lot of schools. What makes DelVal’s rental program unique is the two-semester rental option that will be available.

For one semester, students who want to rent a book that costs $100 will pay $35 or 35 percent.

If the student needs to keep the book for another course – often the case with science -- he or she can pay an additional 19 percent. To keep a book for two semesters a student would end up paying 54 percent or $54 for a $100 book. The student will not have to bring the book back or set foot in the bookstore to keep it for another semester. Students will simply notify the bookstore and keep the book.

Students will sign a rental agreement before getting their books. If a book is damaged or lost, students will be charged the difference between the rental fee and the cost of a new book.

Not every book will be available to rent. In order to be deemed rentable, books will have to meet specific requirements that will help make sure the program is fiscally sustainable. Lower cost books or books for courses with low enrollment will not be rentable.

Books will have to have an anticipated life cycle of at least two years to be rentable. One-semester books must generate a surplus within three semesters and two semester rentals are required to generate a surplus within two years.

If a book is chosen for the rental program, the bookstore hopes to have enough rentals for 50 percent of the students requiring that book. Used books, priced at about 75 percent of a new book, will still be available.

DelVal is aware of online competitors.

“There are a lot of online companies popping up,” said Hirsch. “We’re definitely going to be right there with them.

William Lyle, director of purchasing, said prices of the rentals will be at least competitive if not better than the prices of online rentals.

Lyle added that the program will be convenient and inexpensive for students who won’t have to deal with the hassle and costs of shipping.

The program will also help ACT 101 students. ACT 101, also known as The Higher Education Equal Opportunity Program, was established by Pennsylvania in 1971. The program recruits highly motivated students from difficult economic backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in college. ACT 101 students have access to tutoring, counseling and other support services.

Through ACT 101, DelVal provides some students with free textbooks. The new grant is going to mean even more ACT 101 students will get free books.

“Everyone should be able to have books,” said Hirsch. “There’s a direct correlation between access to textbooks and academic performance.”

The bookstore started a much smaller trial rental program this semester. The cost of the rental books is currently 46 percent of a new book. When the new program launches there will be significantly more books available and the rental cost will be lowered to 35 percent for one semester.

The reaction to the trial program has been positive. Hirsch said there’s already excitement and he expects a “wave of enthusiasm” will follow.

“We hear constantly about students who can’t afford to buy a book or share a book,” said Hirsch. “This rental program will go a long way to help out our students.”

More information about this exciting new option will be available in a new section of our web site closer to the launch of the program.