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
One of the most sustained and vigorous public debates today is about the value—and, crucially, the price—of college. But an unspoken, outdated assumption underlies all sides of this debate: if a young person works hard enough, they’ll be able to get a college degree and be on the path to a good life.
 
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.
 
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."
 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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