Bringing needed clarity to an issue that concerns all of us, Beth Akers and Matthew Chingos cut through the sensationalism and misleading rhetoric to make the compelling case that college remains a good investment for most students. They show how, in fact, typical borrowers face affordable debt burdens, and argue that the truly serious cases of financial hardship portrayed in the media are less common than the popular narrative would have us believe. But there are more troubling problems with student loans that don't receive the same attention. They include high rates of avoidable defaults by students who take on loans but don’t finish college—the riskiest segment of borrowers—and a dysfunctional market where competition among colleges drives tuition costs up instead of down.
Persuasive and compelling, Game of Loans moves beyond the emotionally charged and politicized talk surrounding student debt, and offers a set of sensible policy proposals that can solve the real problems in student lending.
Here James C. Garland draws on more than thirty years of experience as a professor, administrator, and university president to argue that a new compact between state government and public universities is needed to make these schools more affordable and financially secure. Saving Alma Mater challenges a change-resistant culture in academia that places too low a premium on efficiency and productivity. Seeing a crisis of campus leadership, Garland takes state legislators to task for perpetuating the decay of their public university systems and calls for reforms in the way university presidents and governing boards are selected. He concludes that the era is long past when state appropriations can enable public universities to keep their fees low and affordable. Saving Alma Mater thus calls for the partial deregulation of public universities and a phase-out of their state appropriations. Garland’s plan would tie university revenues to their performance and exploit the competitive pressures of the academic marketplace to control costs, rein in tuition, and make schools more responsive to student needs.
A much-needed blueprint for reform based on Garland’s real-life successes as the head of Miami University of Ohio, Saving Alma Mater will be essential for anyone concerned with the costs and quality of higher education in America today.
More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years—during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges.
In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom—a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there.
With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, McMillan Cottom delivers a comprehensive view of postsecondary for-profit education by illuminating the experiences of the everyday people behind the shareholder earnings, congressional battles, and student debt disasters. The relatable human stories in Lower Ed—from mothers struggling to pay for beauty school to working class guys seeking “good jobs” to accomplished professionals pursuing doctoral degrees—illustrate that the growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America.
Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.