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Paying the Price

College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream
Narrated by: Vanessa Daniels
Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
4 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. 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.

©2016 The University of Chicago (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This cogent and persuasive argument for a more humane and efficient program to make higher education accessible to all capable students draws upon thorough research and an array of personal portraits. Highly recommended for parents and taxpayers." ( Library Journal)

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

stat heavy. charmless. dry. but an important topic

stat heavy. charmless. dry. but an important topic that deserves further exploration and analysis especially as it relates to other end stage capitalism themes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good if it's what you're expecting

This book provides a thorough analysis of our college financial aid system, supported by tons of data, and it makes reasonable recommendations for improvement in that system. So if what you want is a better understanding of how financial aid currently works, what its flaws are and how to make it better, this book is for you. Don't expect the narration to be on a par with a good novel, however. Personally, I was expecting a little more focus on the rising costs of college, why they are rising so quickly and what we can do about that. To be fair, the author does call out rising prices as a key reason that college is becoming so much less affordable, and even points out that states are not subsidizing tuition to the degree that they once were, but it stops there. There is no analysis of private universities whatsoever, and the price tags of tuition, room and board, and fees that have been rising far faster than inflation are left unexamined. Even our non-profit universities are contributing to this trend, as administrative salaries are approaching those of corporate executives, residence and dining halls are becoming more like 5-star hotels and additional facilities like gyms and wellness centers are reaching parity with private clubs. Is this because the rising prices of public universities are relieving the competitive pressure on private institutions, or vice-versa, or is there some sort of informal agreement to raise prices on both sides? While I agree with most of the policy recommendations in the book, I don't think that we can say we've taken all the relevant factors into account without addressing the root causes of escalating prices.

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Must read for anyone working in education access

Makes a compelling case for why we need to re-think college education to not only create a more equitable nation, and improve the lives of the traditionally marginalized, but why affordable higher ed is essential to a thriving democracy.

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Must Read for all Higher Ed professionals

I could not put this book down. This book gave an important student perspective that needs to be talked about by all people that tout and denounce higher ed.