Julia Gomez/Assistant Opinion Director
FIU rolled out its new Panther Book Pack program for the Fall 2021 semester. The abrupt rollout is confusing and doesn’t leave students enough time to decide whether or not the Panther Book Pack is right for them or a total waste of money.
The program charges students $20 per credit to rent out the textbooks they need for that semester. FIU Book Pack charges students taking 12 credits $240 to rent all the books they need when they enroll.
The only way this can be beneficial is if each of your classes requires an expensive textbook. For example, a student majoring in chemistry may have to pay $98 or more just to rent one book for one class. Multiply that by four, and that student is paying $392 in one semester for textbooks. I can see the program benefiting someone like that.
But then, a communications major like me might only have to pay $20 or $40 for textbooks. Out of the four classes I’m taking this semester, only one course requires buying new books. In total, I’ve only spent $36.79.
“[Students] are encouraged to assess the combined cost of required materials across all their undergraduate courses each session and compare that to the Panther Book Pack flat rate to determine the most affordable option,” writes Birgitta Rausch-Montoto for FIU news.
It sounds like it makes sense, but it’s discouraging when you aren’t given all the materials needed to make the right decision.
If you can’t find the textbooks your teacher requires using the “Find Textbooks” tab on the book store’s website or your professor hasn’t updated what they require for class, how are you going to be certain that the FIU Book Pack is right for you?
Another highlighted benefit is the convenience of walking into the bookstore on campus and picking up your books. But how is that any more covenant than using Amazon Prime and having your books delivered in a day or two?
By using Prime Delivery, you can avoid:
· Having to lug around heavy books on the day you choose to pick them up
· Ruining the pages of your books by leaving them in a hot car
· The risk of misplacing your costly textbooks
· Juggling between carrying your phone, bookbag, lunch and a bag of textbooks.
· Long lines that are inevitable at the start of the new year
· Being around a large group of people while we’re still going through a pandemic.
FIU Book Pack can also ship to your home. Unfortunately, the book store’s website will not tell you when you receive your books before you check out.
“This textbook affordability initiative is focused on offering the lowest cost possible and equitable access to undergraduate course materials for our students,” said Elizabeth Bejar, the Senior Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs.
While it could save students money in the long run, there are other ways to do it. FIU could reach out to publishing companies about lowering the price, ask professors to assign cheaper textbooks or ones with older editions that are easier to buy used.
FIU could also disclose the price of required textbooks before a student even enrolls, like what Oregon’s public universities are doing. It allows the student to decide whether they can afford to take a class and if there are cheaper options available.
The worst part is, I don’t think I would hate it as much if FIU had given us the option to sign up for the program. FIU should have allowed us to choose whether or not we want to enroll instead of enlisting every student entering the fall semester, then forcing everyone who didn’t want to participate in the new program to opt out.
FIU Book Pack feels like an ingenious way to trap students into paying more than they have to in classes. School is already expensive and confusing. Now we have to worry about not forgetting to opt-out of a program that just seems like a waste of money.
If FIU can offer a $98 textbook rental for $60, but only if the student enrolls into a ridiculous program, then it shows that our school is willing to scam the very students who bring it to life and give meaning to being a Panther.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community