Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

I Paid For My Textbooks with My Blood

We sometimes consider the costs of not going to college as an uncertain future and lack of concrete opportunities. In a similar fashion, we constantly mull over the costs of attending college: tuition, housing, meal plans, forgone earnings and the endless list of supplies. Namely, the one list item sitting at the top of our minds and often unused on our bottom shelf, bound with more than just a shiny hardback cover but a ridiculous price tag— textbooks. Ask any college student, and they will agree the prices of textbooks are extremely too high.

In an article published in 2014 on USA Today, "students spend an average of $1,200 on books and supplies every year, according to The College Board." College students are notoriously resourceful, finding ways to avoid or lessen the steep prices of textbooks. From utilizing the free trials of online books to renting or borrowing a friend's, one student explored an entirely alternative path to pay for hers. Rebecca Hoppe, a senior pursuing a degree in Marketing Management with a minor in International Fashion, donated blood at a plasma donation center, earning enough money to pay for her textbooks. 

When did you start donating plasma?

All month of June, they had a June special.

Why did you do this?

So, we were at dinner and my family was joking about how I should donate plasma. I Googled Plasma donation centers in my area. The neighboring town had a location.

Was it more of a joke initially?

Kind of, but I didn’t have any income. I was donating blood for the Red Cross in high school and college, so I figured I might as well get paid to do it.

What were your hesitations?

It was in an unfamiliar area, next to a strip club with a lot of people loitering.

What was your first experience donating like?

The first time I went, my mom went with me. The line was almost out the door, I just struck up conversation with the guy next to me who had been donating two times a week for nine years! Once I got to the front of the line, I realized I was in the wrong line. I was in the returning donor line, but I was a first time donor.

What else was involved?

Paperwork, 2 videos, a mini physical and a 10 question questionnaire, as well as a medical history exam. They also would check for previous injection marks, to make sure I wasn’t a drug user.

How many times did you return?

6 more times after that first time.

Did you make friends there?

The phlebotomists were super friendly. Everyone in there was super friendly; I never met someone who wasn’t nice to me.

When did you decide to set aside the money to buy textbooks?

 Once the money started adding up, and I knew I wouldn’t get paid for my job at school until two pay periods. So, I decided I was going to save the card until I got to school to be able to pay for books. I made nearly 200 dollars for something I wasn’t even using.

Did you feel any negative side effects to this?

The difference between plasma and donating blood is you get your red blood cells put back into your body so you aren’t losing the bulk of your blood. So, I wasn’t tired. A negative was that I started getting scarring on my arms where my veins are. The more often I went then it started to hurt more because it was going into fresh wounds. The whole process took a while too, like an hour and a half.

Finding time to do that is difficult, but also I was unemployed so I had the time. You also start to get less money the more often you go.  You get less for the less you weigh.

Overall, the time was the biggest con.

Do you feel the added benefit of helping others?

Yeah! I feel the same way as with donating blood.

If I ever needed the plasma, I would want someone to have donated it for me.

Do you think textbooks are overpriced?

Yes, doesn’t everyone think that? They’re so expensive for no reason.

Do you recommend other students do what you did?

If you don’t mind needles, and it doesn’t weird you out, then yeah definitely. If you’re open for adventure and a different situation from what you’re used to then it’s a good experience and funny story.

Whatever the reason, if you’re considering donating plasma—you can locate a center near you using DonatingPlasma.org's donation locator

Kaley Roshitsh

Virginia Tech '18

After graduating with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising and Design from Virginia Tech in 2018, Kaley moved to NYC to start her career with WWD – the authority on the fashion, beauty and retail industries. She is credited with the relaunch of Her Campus at Virginia Tech in 2016, serving as Campus Correspondent for 2 years, building the team to 55+ members while earning multiple Pink chapter level statuses (top-20% of over 330 chapters) and being awarded "Outstanding Organization of the Year" in 2018 at Virginia Tech. Other notable achievements include the annual "Media Mixer" gala and buildout of many strategic content initiatives.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️