Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9780226404349 Will Publish September 2016
An e-book edition will be published.

Paying the Price

College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream

Sara Goldrick-Rab

Paying the Price

Sara Goldrick-Rab

368 pages | 17 figures, 21 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2016
Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9780226404349 Will Publish September 2016
E-book $18.00 ISBN: 9780226404486 Will Publish September 2016
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.
Contents
Introduction
1          Possible Lives
2          The Cost and Price of a College Education
3          Who Gets Pell?
4          Making Ends Meet
5          On Their Own
6          Family Matters
7          Making the Grade
8          City of Broken Dreams
9          Getting to Graduation
10        Making College Affordable
Acknowledgments
Appendix 1. Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study: Methodology
Peter Kinsley and Sara Goldrick-Rab
Appendix 2. Overview of Wisconsin Higher Education
Drew M. Anderson and Sara Goldrick-Rab
Notes
References
Index
 
Review Quotes
Diane Ravitch
"Goldrick-Rab's important book should be read by policymakers, students, and parents. She explains clearly how access to college has been narrowed by rising costs, how elected officials have dodged their responsibility to maintain access, and what we must do to save the American Dream--the promise that all have equal opportunity to succeed."
 
Melissa Harris-Perry
“A hardworking group of young Americans is struggling with regular hunger, periodic homelessness, constant stress, and unrelenting exhaustion—all this while trying to master organic chemistry, business accounting, and British literature. Today’s college students face unprecedented costs to achieve undergraduate degrees. Many of these costs are not reflected on any balance sheet at the university’s financial aid office. Sara Goldrick-Rab’s Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid and the Betrayal of the American Dream offers the first truly comprehensive accounting of the toll extracted from a generation of middle and working class Americans who cannot possibly keep pace with the expense of attending college. Goldrick-Rab maps the landscape of America’s college affordability crisis and gives that crisis a human face. She shows us how the system crushes dreams and offers practical solutions for fixing the mess we have made. Goldrick-Rab argues, ‘The first step in addressing the college affordability crisis is taking the problem seriously.’ Anyone who is serious about addressing this crisis must read this book.”—Melissa Harris-Perry
Marc Lamont Hill, author of Nobody: Casualities of America's War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond
"Paying the Price is an urgent and necessary text. Through rigorous research and careful analysis, Sara Goldrick-Rab shows how the American Dream is structurally compromised by the exorbitant costs of higher education and a thoroughly dysfunctional financial aid system. With texture and subtlety, Goldrick-Rab spotlights the journeys of students whose road to educational access and social mobility is obstructed by the current crisis. Equally important, she offers a practical and progressive action plan for creating a more fair and just system."
F. King Alexander, president, Louisiana State University
"Goldrick-Rab's narrative puts a face to the national higher education cost crisis. The students she profiles through her research represent thousands of individuals who pursue a degree in pursuit of social mobility and the American Dream, only to find themselves unable to make ends meet and often drowning in debt. By personalizing our country’s failed higher education policies, this book takes readers beyond national headlines and statistics and into individual lives. Goldrick-Rab's scholarship fills a critical void in our conversations about the realities of financial aid policy in the face of rapidly rising tuition and important poignant reminder of the ongoing negative impact of state appropriation reductions in this era."
Kirkus Reviews
“Bracing and well-argued, this study not only puts faces on the students who struggle to earn college degrees; it also serves as a warning that university study is rapidly becoming a privilege reserved for only the wealthy. Necessary reading for anyone concerned about the fate of American higher education.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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