Five College Consortium

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

Thu, Feb 16 2017 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm
Stirn Auditorium, 10 Mead Drive, Amherst, MA 01002

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. In her recent book “Paying the Price”, Sara Goldrick-Rab 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 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. 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 the stories of six individual students, whose struggles make clear the horrifying human and financial costs of our convoluted financial aid policies.

In this presentation Goldrick-Rab will describe these issues and offer 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 is doing nothing, and continuing to crush the college dreams of a generation of young people.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University. She 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. Her work has also been covered by the Atlantic, Slate, NPR and PBS.

This presentation is sponsored by The EDU and the Departments of Anthropology & Sociology and American Studies. The EDU unites students who are passionate about education and prepares them to become effective leaders and thinkers in the field.

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