Sezzle Offers College Kids BNPL for Buying Textbooks

Sezzle, BNPL, buy now pay later, college textbooks, Independent College Bookstore Association, ICBA

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) company Sezzle wants to make it easier for college students.

The company on Tuesday (Dec. 20) launched a partnership with the Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA), a support group for college stores.

“Today’s generation of college students is drowning in debt more than ever before in an endless cycle of inflated student loans, textbooks, and cost of living,” Sezzle said in a news release.

“Textbook prices have skyrocketed for decades. Between 1977 and 2015, the cost of textbooks increased 1,041%, and outpaced currency inflation by 238%. In more recent years, an emphasis on textbook affordability as a means to improve student outcomes has become a focus throughout higher education,” Sezzle added.

The partnership will see Sezzle work with ICBA stores to offer students the ability to buy textbooks, school supplies, and college gear and make payments in four installments. The program is available at more than 230 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

“Expensive textbooks can dangerously impact a college student’s financial ability to receive an education,” the release said. “Many students are forced to increase their loans or simply go without an essential text.”

This is happening at a time when people are increasingly turning to BNPL for things beyond retail purchases, such as medical procedures and education.

A recent PYMNTS study found that 43% of the paycheck-to-paycheck consumers we interviewed would be interested in leveraging BNPL for out-of-pocket medical procedures, while 43% would use it to fund home remodeling services, 42% would use it for medicine and prescriptions and 38% would use it pay for education and certifications.

We also spoke recently with Heidi Hillis, expert coach at Fortuna Admissions, on the ways BNPL is changing the education field.

“Our clients are generally professionals, and our packages that we sell are pretty high-ticket, so customers often paid for them over a period of three to six months, and we were managing it ourselves by charging them in three invoices,” she told PYMNTS. “But that became very burdensome for us to handle, and we found Splitit to help us handle client payments.”

BNPL let Fortuna improve its profits in two ways. The lack of interest payments allowed the company to drop its discounts and still offer an appealing value proposition. And outsourcing the payments to a third party helped reduce administrative costs that were spent managing the company’s installment payments system.