New textbook program piloted at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus | SteamboatToday.com

New textbook program piloted at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus

Pre-sorted bags of textbooks sit on shelves in the Steamboat Campus Store at Colorado Mountain College. Rather than order books individually online

— Colorado Mountain College students were lugging some heavy book bags to their first day of classes Monday, thanks to a new program that ensures students get all their textbooks by day one.

CMC is piloting a partnership with textbook rental company Rafter Inc. in which students in Steamboat Springs pay a flat fee of $286 for the semester with a guarantee of receiving all required textbooks and course materials in time for when school starts.

School leaders said Monday the flat fee is much less than students nationwide pay on average for books, and they hope the new CMC Learning Materials Program will eliminate the need for some students to forgo purchasing expensive books because of a financial hardship.

"The cost of textbooks has been astronomical," said Lianne Pyle, student affairs administrative assistant, who has helped with the launch of the program.

Pyle said research shows that students who delay purchasing textbooks are not as successful in classes, and that CMC students have been receptive to the ease and affordability of the new program.

"The reaction has been overwhelming," Pyle said.

After adding up the cost of his books individually, full-time student and Steamboat Campus Store employee Dalton North said the program will save him $60 to $70 on what he would have paid for books this semester.

"I'm really sad we didn't have this last semester, because I had a $300 book then," said North, who is part of the sustainability studies program.

North said he used to shop around for books or rent them online, but he and students who have stopped into the campus store are in favor of the new program.

Textbook prices for students can vary widely based on the subject, class and the books chosen by a professor.

The National Association of College Stores estimates that the average college student spends $655 on textbooks each year, while College Board estimates that cost to be $1,168.

A look through the CMC online bookstore showed numerous textbooks priced at over $100, including an anatomy textbook for $340 and a history book priced at $223.

Students last week and Monday were able to pick up all of their books pre-sorted into one bag from the campus store.

"It takes less than 30 seconds for them to check in and be handed all their books," Pyle said.

About 2 percent of students have opted out of the program.

At the end of the semester, students are expected to return their books or purchase them for a discounted rate.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow