As students prepare to return to campus, they don't have to worry about buying the latest technology. They can rent it by the week, month or semester at CSU Monterey Bay's TechRent store.

This fall, the store is back for its fifth year, offering students an affordable alternative to costly purchases.

Since the spring of 2010, TechRent has saved students more than $616,000 in equipment purchase costs and generated nearly $66,000 in rental fees. That money supports the store's operations and covers the cost of purchasing additional technology.

The store operates virtually, meaning that students are able to learn about and place orders for products, including clickers, laptops – the most requested item – flip cams, iPads, calculators, cameras and pocket projectors, online, and pick them up at the TechRent desk located in the Media Learning Center outside Room 111 or in the west lobby of the building.

Other items in the store's inventory include Kodak cams, Bamboo touch pads and smart pens. Since the program's inception, 2,109 items have been rented.

Quantity and variety of items for rent have continued to expand in response to campus needs. Faculty members may borrow equipment for a few weeks to experiment with implementation into their courses. Rentals are also available to them and to staff members.

The project was launched with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Arlene Krebs, director of CSUMB’s Wireless Education and Technology Center, is the force behind TechRent. She responded to a call for textbook rental grant applications from the Education Department’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education with her equipment rental idea.

CSUMB was awarded just under $300,000 in the fall of 2009; the virtual store was up and running three months later.

The TechRent team includes Krebs and Jonathan Baptista, who serves as store manager and technical support guru. They ensure that all technologies are accessible for people with learning and physical disabilities.

"We've established a unique service for our campus community," Krebs said, "a campus resource that has become as important as the library and the bookstore."

Visit the online store.

iPads are among the items available for rent