The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education

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6.0 X 8.9 X 0.8 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Nicholas D. Hartlep is Assistant Professor of Urban Education at Metropolitan State University, USA.

Lucille L. T. Eckrich is Associate Professor of Educational Foundations at Illinois State University, USA.

Brandon O. Hensley is Basic Course Director and Lecturer in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University, USA.


"This book is a must-read for those who are concerned about whether the United States' higher education system has the potential to fulfill students' dreams and desires of finding permanent, well-paying jobs or whether it becomes merely a bastion for corporations to feed their coffers and centralize their power."

--Bradley J. Porfilio, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at California State University, East Bay USA

"This book makes an important contribution as it examines the student loan industry, exposes the neoliberal predatory lender tactics, the total lack of protection for student borrowers, and the need for changes in the industry. This book also highlights how the student debt industry has become a hegemonic tool mediating between the corporate centers of power and the common student/citizen. This book further helps to identify and illuminate the conditions in which student debt operates today and how it teaches students/citizens their place, their roles and their responsibilities as economic pawns in this neoliberal financial chess match."

--Sheila Macrine, Professor of Teacher Education, University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, USA

"An instructive, appropriately personal, empirically grounded, and impressively critical indictment of the U.S. student debt crisis and its capitalistic, neoliberal undercurrents. This timely text advances important conversations about a pressing education policy issue that affects millions of Americans, corrupts colleges and universities, and undermines our nation's economic wellness."

--Shaun R. Harper, Clifford and Betty Allen Professor of Education, University of Southern California, USA

"An ideology which makes higher education a privilege instead of a societal benefit has commodified human life and human freedom and placed high academic achievement out of the financial means of many young Americans. This book is a deep exploration of the disastrous educational funding system of America. It is required reading for every person concerned about whether future generations will be equipped intellectually to defend our freedoms, which will require access to higher learning, as a basic right."

--Dennis Kucinich, Member of Congress, 1997-2013, Senior Member of House Committee on Education. Presidential candidate 2004 and 2008

"This book offers a unique perspective - that of those in debt. The text provides a useful and timely overview of college finance and student debt, and offers a birds-eye view of the multiple problems students face once they encounter, and have to live with, debt "

--William G. Tierney, Wilbur Kieffer Professor of Higher Education, University of Southern California, USA

"Higher education in the United States has been transformed from a public good to a poverty industry under the aegis of debtfarism. With wide-ranging coverage of vital themes ranging from the exploitative practices of student loans to the politics of financing education, this edited volume brings together an invaluable collection of critical interrogations into the complex practices of neoliberalizing colleges. This excellent volume will quickly become a standard reference for understanding the commodification of tertiary education."

--Susanne Soederberg, author of Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry

"These authors remind us to be wary of the increasing commodification of college. They are right to be concerned that college costs and debt threatens to turn too many students into indentured foot soldiers for American capitalism. A college education is more than dollars and cents. Free nations need free colleges."

--Anthony P. Carnevale, Research Professor and Director McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

"Student debt has become a prison and this excellent collection of essays raises the question of whether the augmentation of labor power through higher education is worth the cost. This powerful text exposes the current crisis of education, and courageously brings the reader face-to-face with the consequences of capital unchained. It should be read by all in the higher education community."

--Peter McLaren, Distinguished Professor, Chapman University

"This amazing collection of papers is a must-read for any academic, administrator, or individual engaging with the higher education space. For any professor that purports to have the best interest of their students at heart, one must first understand the ways in which we have all been complicit in a seemingly value-neutral, neoliberal system that perpetuates unjust inequalities. Everyone working in the higher education space should seek to understand these forces and incentives that pushes higher education to be a space that is debt laden and driven by profit and prestige rather than a space of critical thinking and learning."

--Eugenia Kim, Debt Collective Organizer

"The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education should serve as a clarion call to the Academy, to university stakeholders, ED, and the general public. Those in the Academy must recognize that they run the great risk of infuriating the public on a scale that this nation has never before seen and that, at long last, they must act (proactively, if that is still possible at this point) both to acknowledge their role in the creation of this problem and to take the responsibility, and make the sacrifices necessary, to earn back the trust that the public has given them to educate--not financially decimate--the citizens of this country."

--Alan Collinge, from the Foreword

"Laying the foundations for a prosperous America begins with ensuring that every student--regardless of race, income, or any other factor--is able to obtain the best education possible. This work recognizes this fundamental principle of our democracy and its economic importance in an increasingly competitive global job market. By providing an in-depth history of student-debt financing, and giving a face to the millions of students who have been victims of the student-loan crisis, this book is essential to both understanding the magnitude of the crisis we're currently in and providing the steps to guaranteeing a quality and affordable higher education for every aspiring student in America."

--Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)

"When I graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1990, students were graduating from college with an average of about $12,000 in debt. Today, the average student debt for undergraduates in Minnesota is more than $31,000; the fifth-highest in the nation. One of the basic principles of the progressive movement has always been that getting a good education in America should be a right enjoyed by all-not privilege reserved for the rich and the lucky."

--Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN)

"The authors provide a compelling narrative depicting how the growing reliance on debt to finance postsecondary education has impacted an entire generation's financial security. Far too many millennials carry student debt and this book--full of important contextual insight and thoughtful ways forward--will be an important reference point for student advocates across the country who are always in need of relatable, well-researched, and sophisticated evidence to support their voices and calls for change in key policy spaces."

--Christopher J. Nellum, Ph.D., Policy & Research Director, Young Invincibles