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Paying the Price : College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream (Hardcover)
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For the last decade, sociologist Sara Goldrick-Rab has been studying what happens when economically vulnerable people try to make their way through public higher education. Of the 3,000 young adults she tracked who began college in 2008, half dropped out, and less than one in five finished a bachelor’s degree in four years. Additional grant money helped some, but what is clear here is that when college students’ costs are not fully covered, they rarely finish college. If they do, it takes them longer than it should, and they graduate with a substantial amount of debt. In addition to marshaling her date and national data, Goldrick-Rab also adds a human dimension to this story. She focuses in on six students in particular to help make plain the human and financialsometimes to the dollarcosts of our convoluted financial aid policies. Their stories really drive the point home. Though Chloe Johnson, an aspiring veterinarian, sold her beloved horse, took out loans, shared an off-campus apartment with a friend, and worked two jobs, she ends up dropping out of college. She had to work so many hours at Kohl’s and PetSmartoften the night shiftto pay for her Expected Family Contribution” that she could not stay awake in classes and still did not have enough money for food or gas. When she finally dropped a class to help her performance in other classes, she found out at the end of the semester that her reduced load made her ineligible for financial aid. After leaving school, she still owed thousands of dollars; she had nothing to show for her college years but debt. Goldrick-Rab closes the book with possible solutions, from changing the timing of FAFSA forms, to more flexibility about how students can use aid money, and she makes a strong case for making the first two years of college free.