Paying the price College costs, financial aid, and the betrayal of the American dream

Sara Goldrick-Rab

Book - 2016

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Subjects
Published
Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press [2016].
Language
English
Physical Description
373 pages ; 23 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [317]-360) and index.
ISBN
9780226404349
022640434X
Main Author
Sara Goldrick-Rab (author)
Other Authors
Drew M. Anderson (-), Peter (Educational policy expert) Kinsley
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Goldrick-Rab (higher education policy & sociology, Temple Univ.; coauthor, Reinventing Financial Aid) argues clearly and convincingly that over past decades higher education has become more expensive, and that current financial aid programs are insufficient. Pell Grant funds have increased as tuition costs have risen even faster, and students whose families can contribute little or nothing to their education are forced to work long hours and take on larger loans. Goldrick-Rab conducted multiyear research on 3,000 college students in Wisconsin during the financial crisis of 2008, assembling a full picture of the complex federal, state, and private aid programs and how they failed to meet student needs. The detailed analysis of aid programs and actual educational costs are illustrated by insightful charts and graphs brought to life by multiple personal interviews. Believing that secondary education is essential in our economy and our democracy, the author offers proposals to make attending school a reality for all, regardless of family income. VERDICT This cogent and persuasive argument for a more humane and efficient program to make higher education accessible to all capable students draws upon thorough research and an array of personal portraits. Highly recommended for parents and taxpayers.—Elizabeth Hayford, formerly with Associated Coll. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL [Page 105]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Argues that college is simply too expensive for most American students and presents a study of three thousand young adults who entered public colleges in Wisconsin in 2008 and the devastating effect financial issues have had on them.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right?   Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it.   Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. Unable to afford tuition, books, and living expenses, they worked too many hours at outside jobs, dropped classes, took time off to save money, and even went without adequate food or housing. In many heartbreaking cases, they simply left school'not with a degree, but with crippling debt. Goldrick-Rab combines that shocking data with devastating stories of six individual students, whose struggles make clear the horrifying human and financial costs of our convoluted financial aid policies.   America can fix this problem. In the final section of the book, Goldrick-Rab offers a range of possible solutions, from technical improvements to the financial aid application process, to a bold, public sector'focused 'first degree free' program. What's not an option, this powerful book shows, is doing nothing, and continuing to crush the college dreams of a generation of young people.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

For the last decade, sociologist Sara Goldrick-Rab has been studying what happens when economically vulnerable people try to make their way through public higher education. Of the 3,000 young adults she tracked who began college in 2008, half dropped out, and less than one in five finished a bachelor’s degree in four years. Additional grant money helped some, but what is clear here is that when college students’ costs are not fully covered, they rarely finish college. If they do, it takes them longer than it should, and they graduate with a substantial amount of debt. In addition to marshaling her date and national data, Goldrick-Rab also adds a human dimension to this story. She focuses in on six students in particular to help make plain the human and financialsometimes to the dollarcosts of our convoluted financial aid policies. Their stories really drive the point home. Though Chloe Johnson, an aspiring veterinarian, sold her beloved horse, took out loans, shared an off-campus apartment with a friend, and worked two jobs, she ends up dropping out of college. She had to work so many hours at Kohl’s and PetSmartoften the night shiftto pay for her Expected Family Contribution” that she could not stay awake in classes and still did not have enough money for food or gas. When she finally dropped a class to help her performance in other classes, she found out at the end of the semester that her reduced load made her ineligible for financial aid. After leaving school, she still owed thousands of dollars; she had nothing to show for her college years but debt. Goldrick-Rab closes the book with possible solutions, from changing the timing of FAFSA forms, to more flexibility about how students can use aid money, and she makes a strong case for making the first two years of college free.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right?   Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it.   Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. Unable to afford tuition, books, and living expenses, they worked too many hours at outside jobs, dropped classes, took time off to save money, and even went without adequate food or housing. In many heartbreaking cases, they simply left school—not with a degree, but with crippling debt. Goldrick-Rab combines that shocking data with devastating stories of six individual students, whose struggles make clear the horrifying human and financial costs of our convoluted financial aid policies.   America can fix this problem. In the final section of the book, Goldrick-Rab offers a range of possible solutions, from technical improvements to the financial aid application process, to a bold, public sector–focused “first degree free” program. What’s not an option, this powerful book shows, is doing nothing, and continuing to crush the college dreams of a generation of young people.