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Opposing Perspectives on Student Debt

Education Next – Jason D. Delisle

“Two new books offer opposing views on college affordability and the student debt crisis. In Paying the Price, Temple University sociologist Sara Goldrick-Rab concludes that “the lesson from today’s student debt crisis … is that college is unaffordable.” Beth Akers and Matthew Chingos disagree, contending that there is no student loan crisis. The two D.C. researchers pore over the data and find, in Game of Loans, that college prices and student debt loads are more affordable than the dominant political narrative would have us believe. Some readers might be tempted to read only one of these books—whichever one aligns with their prior beliefs. But those who read both volumes will be rewarded. Game of Loans and Paying the Price take different approaches to their subjects. In the former, the authors use high-level statistics and careful logic to diffuse the rhetoric surrounding student debt; in the latter, the author argues that the rhetoric is justified as she documents students’ personal struggles to pay for college. Despite the contrasting styles and perspectives, there’s some common ground between the two that could inform future financial-aid reform.”(more)

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