Paying the Price
College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream
That’s simply not true anymore, 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 twenty 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, even went without adequate food or housing. In a heartbreaking number of cases, they simply left school—not with a degree, but with crippling debt.
We can fix this problem. Goldrick-Rab closes the book by laying out a number of possible solutions, including a public sector–focused “first degree free” program. What’s not an option, this powerful, polemical book shows, is doing nothing, and continuing to crush the college dreams of a generation of young people.
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
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