Lehigh is piloting a new flat-rate course materials rental program, Learning Unlimited, for the Fall 2023 semester.
According to an email sent to the campus community in early July by University Business Services, a flat rate of $375 per semester would be charged to students’ Bursar accounts to pay for course materials such as physical and digital textbooks. All undergraduate students were automatically enrolled in Learning Unlimited for the fall semester and were charged the fee.
The $375 fee is not random, said Renee Lutz, manager of the Lehigh Store. It is based on the prices of course materials and book lists from previous semesters.
Students who were participating in the program received a green slip in their book order which they could bring to the bookstore in exchange for a free planner and a discount on other items as an added perk.
“This is a three-year pilot program expected to improve classroom preparedness, retention, and academic success,” University Business Services wrote.
The email said the program is designed to save students time and money and explained the Lehigh Bookstore would prepare all materials for students on or before the first day of class.
Maya Elias, ‘24, a psychology and political science double major, said she had 16 required textbooks this semester and she only paid about $23 per book with Learning Unlimited.
She said she had all of her textbooks mailed to her house and received all but one of them before classes started.
For those taking courses without required materials or requiring materials less than $375 total, the program is an added cost to each semester’s tuition.
Andrey Montero ‘26, a student in the business college, said he used the program to get his textbooks, but the materials he needed ended up totaling less than $375.
Montero said the program did not cover the materials for his Chinese class, and when he emailed the bookstore about this, they never replied.
“I would recommend that people just save (their) money and buy their books themselves,” Montero said.
Lutz said the whole point is to make course materials more accessible for students.
“Do we realize that for some students, it’s not going to be beneficial? Absolutely,” Lutz said. “Which is why you have the option to opt-out.”
Students received another email at the end of July, instructing them to review their course materials and select pick-up or delivery for them.
Elias said she thinks the university did a good job of communicating everything over email but knows a lot of students do not check their emails much over the summer.
“I definitely think they should not automatically opt you in,” Elias said. “I think that there’s a reason they do that, and it’s to collect money from people who weren’t paying attention which is not good.”
Students were able to opt out of the program, and those who did should have received a credit on their Bursar accounts. As of Sept. 9, opting in and out of Learning Unlimited through http://learningunlimited.lehigh.edu/ is no longer available.
Reminders about returning rentals will be sent out as the semester comes to an end.