Forthcoming Book on The Real College Debt Crisis

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our book, The Real College Debt crisis, uses our personal stories to highlight how individual effort and ability are, today, insufficient to realize equitable outcomes in and from education. We call for a new lens through which to judge the efficacy--and suitability--of our financial aid system, beyond just helping children to access college, to evaluating how a given approach supports children's preparation for, progress in, and profit from their college degree. When measured by these expanded criteria, assets' clear advantages are apparent, and equipping all children with an asset foundation evermore imperative.

Some chapters are more theoretical, helping readers understand the theoretical foundation that explains assets' effects and outlining the need for a revolution in our collective thinking about student debt. Others are more empirical, including research regarding the effects of student borrowing on asset accumulation, educational outcomes, and overall well-being. And others are immediately practical, including a discussion of the limitations of current policy proposals to tweak around the edges of our student debt system.

Together, we hope that The Real College Debt crisis points our attention to the right questions, pushing us to ask more of our financial aid system than just helping some students limp over the hurdle of college enrollment.

Because if we are really committed to crafting a financial aid system worthy of our values--that one's talents and expense of effort, not the financial standing of one's parents, should determine ultimate outcomes--then a shift from over-reliance on student borrowing to a foundation of saving and asset transfers for wealth creation will seem commonsensical and, crucially, completely American.

We worked with our editors at Praeger to get this book out quickly, and we're eagerly anticipating the release this summer. We look forward to talking with students, scholars, policymakers, and others concerned about the erosion of mobility, the increasingly elite stratification of higher education, and the sense that the American Dream is becoming more elusive, about what the data say, what alternatives could look like, and what it would take to aim for something more. We anticipate much debate. As long as we're all talking about what student debt really means, and accurately accounting for what it does, we welcome the conversations.

Is it July yet?

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New Book Released

Today’s student loan system is in place because of a political compromise, and growing discontent with student debt may signal that this arrangement has run its course. While there are resources and organizations in place to help those struggling with debt, the time has come to consider a new direction for financial aid, William Elliott III and Melinda Lewis argue in “Student Debt: A Reference Handbook.”

Why KU
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
  • Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
  • 44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
  • 23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times