New Buy Now, Pay Later Service Targets College Books

Sezzle offers students a payment option with an interest-free repayment period

A woman looks at a device in a bookstore.

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College students who struggle to afford their required books each year now have another funding option: a buy now, pay later service called Sezzle.

Sezzle, a fintech firm, has partnered with the Independent College Bookstore Association to launch its payment option amid the rising cost of college books and other college expenses.

Offered at 230 college stores in the U.S. and Cananda, Sezzle allows students to make purchases, including books, school supplies and gear, and then pay them off over time in four installments. Essentially, as a buy now, pay later service, it allows the consumer a payment option that works similarly to a credit card, but with no interest charges.

“No student should ever lose out on educational opportunities because they’re worried about the ability to pay at the time of service,” Sezzle CEO Charlie Youakim said in statement.

The high cost of college textbooks can negatively impact a students finances and ability to get an education. To afford books, students often increase their loans or forgo buying the essential text they need for a course. The cost of books has been significantly risking in recent decades. Now, a single new textbook can cost upwards of $300, according to OpenStax, a nonprofit based at Rice University aiming to make more textbooks available for free for college students.

Downsides of Using BNPL

While BNPL services can provide affordable funding for immediate needs compared to credit cards, they do have some downsides to consider as well. If a student cannot make the payments according to the terms, they are likely to face fees, Unlike with credit cards, BNPL apps and services are not yet closely regulated.

If students rely on BNPL to pay for their expenses, they may be delaying their financial problems instead of resolving them. Some BNPL apps also make a hard inquiry, which could modestly affect your credit score. A BNPL app may or may not report your payment information to the three credit bureaus, If they do, your score could benefit if you make payments on time, but it can take a hit if you cannot meet your obligations.

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  1. Sezzle. "Study Now, Pay Later -- Sezzle Brings Flexible Financing to College Bookstores."

  2. OpenStax. "OpenStax Surpasses $1 billion in Textbook Savings."

  3. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What's a Credit Inquiry?"