Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream

University of Chicago Press
2
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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.
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About the author

Sara Goldrick-Rab is coeditor of Reinventing Financial Aid: Charting a New Course to College Affordability and has written on education issues for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a recipient of the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association and the Atlantic, Slate, and NPR have covered her work. She founded the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s first research laboratory aimed at making college affordable, and is a noted influence on the development of both federal and state higher education policies. Dr. Goldrick-Rab is professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University. Follow her on Twitter @saragoldrickrab.
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Reviews

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Sep 1, 2016
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780226404486
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Education
Business & Economics / Personal Finance / General
Education / Educational Policy & Reform / General
Education / Finance
Education / General
Education / Higher
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Kathleen M. Shaw
Today, a college education is increasingly viewed as the gateway to the American Dream—a necessary prerequisite for social mobility. Yet recent policy reforms in the United States effectively steer former welfare recipients away from an education that could further their career prospects, forcing them directly into the workforce where they often find only low-paying jobs with little opportunity for growth. In Putting Poor People to Work, Kathleen Shaw, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christopher Mazzeo, and Jerry A. Jacobs explore this troubling disconnect between the principles of “work-first” and “college for all.”

Using comprehensive interviews with government officials and sophisticated data from six states over a four year period, Putting Poor People to Work shows how recent changes in public policy have reduced the quantity and quality of education and training available to adults with low incomes. The authors analyze how two policies encouraging work—the federal welfare reform law of 1996 and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998—have made moving people off of public assistance as soon as possible, with little regard to their long-term career prospects, a government priority. Putting Poor People to Work shows that since the passage of these “work-first” laws, not only are fewer low-income individuals pursuing postsecondary education, but when they do, they are increasingly directed towards the most ineffective, short-term forms of training, rather than higher-quality college-level education. Moreover, the schools most able and ready to serve poor adults—the community colleges—are deterred by these policies from doing so.

Having a competitive, agile workforce that can compete with any in the world is a national priority. In a global economy where skills are paramount, that goal requires broad popular access to education and training. Putting Poor People to Work shows how current U.S. policy discourages poor Americans from seeking out a college education, stranding them in jobs with little potential for growth. This important new book makes a powerful argument for a shift in national priorities that would encourage the poor to embrace both work and education, rather than having to choose between the two.

Institute for Research on Poverty Affiliated Books on Poverty and Public Policy">An Institute for Research on Poverty Affiliated Book on Poverty and Public Policy

Dana Goldstein
In her groundbreaking history of 175 years of American education, Dana Goldstein finds answers in the past to the controversies that plague our public schools today.

Teaching is a wildly contentious profession in America, one attacked and admired in equal measure. In The Teacher Wars, a rich, lively, and unprecedented history of public school teaching, Dana Goldstein reveals that teachers have been similarly embattled for nearly two centuries. From the genteel founding of the common schools movement in the nineteenth century to the violent inner-city teacher strikes of the 1960s and '70s, from the dispatching of Northeastern women to frontier schoolhouses to the founding of Teach for America on the Princeton University campus in 1989, Goldstein shows that the same issues have continued to bedevil us: Who should teach? What should be taught? Who should be held accountable for how our children learn? 
   She uncovers the surprising roots of hot button issues, from teacher tenure to charter schools, and finds that recent popular ideas to improve schools—instituting merit pay, evaluating teachers by student test scores, ranking and firing veteran teachers, and recruiting “elite” graduates to teach—are all approaches that have been tried in the past without producing widespread change. And she also discovers an emerging effort that stands a real chance of transforming our schools for the better: drawing on the best practices of the three million public school teachers we already have in order to improve learning throughout our nation’s classrooms.
   The Teacher Wars upends the conversation about American education by bringing the lessons of history to bear on the dilemmas we confront today. By asking “How did we get here?” Dana Goldstein brilliantly illuminates the path forward.
Taylor Larimore
The irreverent guide to investing, Boglehead style

The Boglehead's Guide to Investing is a DIY handbook that espouses the sage investment wisdom of John C. Bogle. This witty and wonderful book offers contrarian advice that provides the first step on the road to investment success, illustrating how relying on typical "common sense" promoted by Wall Street is destined to leave you poorer. This updated edition includes new information on backdoor Roth IRAs and ETFs as mainstream buy and hold investments, estate taxes and gifting, plus changes to the laws regarding Traditional and Roth IRAs, and 401k and 403b retirement plans. With warnings and principles both precisely accurate and grandly counterintuitive, the Boglehead authors show how beating the market is a zero-sum game.

Investing can be simple, but it's certainly not simplistic. Over the course of twenty years, the followers of John C. Bogle have evolved from a loose association of investors to a major force with the largest and most active non-commercial financial forum on the Internet. The Boglehead's Guide to Investing brings that communication to you with comprehensive guidance to the investment prowess on display at Bogleheads.org. You'll learn how to craft your own investment strategy using the Bogle-proven methods that have worked for thousands of investors, and how to:

Choose a sound financial lifestyle and diversify your portfolio Start early, invest regularly, and know what you're buying Preserve your buying power, keeping costs and taxes low Throw out the "good" advice promoted by Wall Street that leads to investment failure

Financial markets are essentially closed systems in which one's gain garners another's loss. Investors looking for a roadmap to successfully navigating these choppy waters long-term will find expert guidance, sound advice, and a little irreverent humor in The Boglehead's Guide to Investing.

Kathleen M. Shaw
Today, a college education is increasingly viewed as the gateway to the American Dream—a necessary prerequisite for social mobility. Yet recent policy reforms in the United States effectively steer former welfare recipients away from an education that could further their career prospects, forcing them directly into the workforce where they often find only low-paying jobs with little opportunity for growth. In Putting Poor People to Work, Kathleen Shaw, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christopher Mazzeo, and Jerry A. Jacobs explore this troubling disconnect between the principles of “work-first” and “college for all.”

Using comprehensive interviews with government officials and sophisticated data from six states over a four year period, Putting Poor People to Work shows how recent changes in public policy have reduced the quantity and quality of education and training available to adults with low incomes. The authors analyze how two policies encouraging work—the federal welfare reform law of 1996 and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998—have made moving people off of public assistance as soon as possible, with little regard to their long-term career prospects, a government priority. Putting Poor People to Work shows that since the passage of these “work-first” laws, not only are fewer low-income individuals pursuing postsecondary education, but when they do, they are increasingly directed towards the most ineffective, short-term forms of training, rather than higher-quality college-level education. Moreover, the schools most able and ready to serve poor adults—the community colleges—are deterred by these policies from doing so.

Having a competitive, agile workforce that can compete with any in the world is a national priority. In a global economy where skills are paramount, that goal requires broad popular access to education and training. Putting Poor People to Work shows how current U.S. policy discourages poor Americans from seeking out a college education, stranding them in jobs with little potential for growth. This important new book makes a powerful argument for a shift in national priorities that would encourage the poor to embrace both work and education, rather than having to choose between the two.

Institute for Research on Poverty Affiliated Books on Poverty and Public Policy">An Institute for Research on Poverty Affiliated Book on Poverty and Public Policy

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