Co-op provides affordable course materials to students

Lauren Grobe

The University Co-op changed its rental return policy last fall, allowing students a 10-day grace period to return rented textbooks with a small fee before charging the full price of the book, said Michael Kiely, director of course materials. 

“If they don’t bring it back by the time it’s due, then we will provide them 10 extra days,” Kiely said. “The fee is 10% of the cost of the book. After that 10 days, then we charge them the difference between the rental price and the selling price plus a 10% penalty fee.”

Kiely said students can find the prices for both buying and renting books online and in-store, and their customer service team is the best option for students who have questions about the rental process.

Nutrition freshman Emily Yager said Co-op employees helped her when she was a first-time user of the store’s renting process.

“I was kind of confused at first, but then I just asked someone who worked here, and they helped me find all my things,” Yager said.

Students can rent certain course materials from the Co-op while other materials are buy only, Kiely said. The Co-op works with book companies and looks at other factors such as bid price to determine the price of a book and whether it can be rented.

“If a new book is going to sell for $75 and (a book company) is going to pay me $60, then I would rent it for $15,” Kiely said. “Then I know I have somebody who will buy it and will make me whole.”

Kiely said the Co-op works to provide course materials at the lowest price possible. 

“We do everything we can to keep cost of course materials down,” Kiely said. “We are very happy with breaking even.”

Yager said her textbooks were affordable and allowed her to easily buy materials for multiple courses. 

“My chemistry book was only $25,” Yager said. “That was really good, and my biology book was only a little bit more than that.”


The Co-op is a nonprofit, Kiely said, and according to the University Co-op website, the store donates all proceeds to student success at the University, including awards to students and faculty, funding student organizations and sponsoring the University Fashion Group fashion show. 

Kiely said the materials available at the Co-op are chosen based on what faculty members ask for.

“It’s up to the faculty member to let us know what they want to use,” Kiely said. “We email all the faculty members and say, ‘Hey, it’s time.’”

Kiely said that out of the roughly 11,000 unique courses at the University, the Co-op had not heard back from about 5,000 courses on whether they required any materials.

“A lot of those may be seminar classes or thesis classes,” Kiely said. “They’re never going to use a book. We try to flag those … and put ‘No texts required.’”