Students are Finding Affordable Alternatives and Saving Money
By Jeannie Rodriguez
After enduring the high cost of purchasing textbooks from the bookstore, Laura Romero, 18, a political science major at Miami Dade College’s North Campus has found an affordable alternative: Renting her textbooks online.
Romero, like many students from universities and junior colleges across the country have turned to popular sites such as Chegg.com, an online textbook rental company, to rent, buy, and sell their textbooks.
“During the spring term, I saved more than $300 because I rented my psychology book, two political science books, and my statistics book from Chegg.com,” Romero said. “I actually made all my friends use it this semester.”
Inspired by their own frustration with the policies and procedures of their university’s bookstore, Osman Rashid and Aayush Phumbra launched Chegg.com at Iowa State University in 2003.
By 2007, Chegg.com was available to students from every college and university across the country.
“Chegg.com’s purpose is simple,” said Rashid on the Chegg.com website, “Students don’t need to purchase textbooks; they need to be allowed to rent them.”
Tina Couch, Vice President of Public Relations for Chegg.com, said in an interview via email that students and their parents save 65-85 percent off their textbooks when renting through the site.
Chegg.com has 2.4 million titles available for students majoring in hundreds of different academic disciplines.
“To date, Chegg.com has saved students from more than 6,000 different colleges and universities – including students from Miami Dade College – more than $43 million on textbook costs,” Couch said.
When renting from Chegg.com, students can search for the books they need by ISBN number, author, title, or keyword.
The results include rental price, purchase price, and detailed information about the book.
There are a variety of rental terms a student can choose from: 125 days, 85 days, and 60 days. There are also options to extend or purchase your book.
“Chegg offers lightening fast, cost-effective shipping to student’s right to their dorm, apartment or house and provides a return shipping label free of charge,” Couch said.
Chegg.com offers a 30-day “any reason” guarantee where it will give a full refund for all orders returned within 30 days. It also allows students to moderately highlight in books. However, if the book is returned damaged, Chegg.com will ask the student to pay for the book.
Students can also sell their old books to Chegg.com in exchange for Chegg credit or a Chegg Visa Card.
Chegg.com offers students a prepaid UPS shipping label to package and send the books. After the warehouse processes and confirms that the book is in good condition, the student is paid according to their preference.
Chegg.com is also eco-friendly, it promises to plant one tree for every textbook rented, purchased, or sold back through their partnership with the American Forest Global ReLeaf program.
The American Forests Global ReLeaf® selects areas across the globe in need of trees and plants them accordingly. Trees have already been planted in Lake Tahoe, China, and Guatemala.
“More than 20 million trees a year are destroyed to make books,” Couch said. “By planting these trees, together we're helping to use the earth's resources more efficiently. So far, we've funded over 850 acres - that's over 500 football fields- or 300 city blocks.”
Other online textbook rental companies have opened due to the concepts rising popularity. BookRenter.com promises savings of up to 75 percent and free return shipping. Cengage Learning and IChapters.com have teamed up to start their own textbook rental program at CengageBrain.com. The site is scheduled to open December 1, 2009.
Leani Lloret, 18, pre-pharmacy major, found out about textbook rentals through a friend.
“I went online and compared prices between Chegg.com and other used book sites,” said Lloret.
“I loved the fact that I was able to use the book and give it back, without having to worry about the books becoming used up closet space. It is a great way to save money.”
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