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Higher Education and Society

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Higher education and society are becoming increasingly intertwined. Both act as a transmitter of culture, yet many colleges and universities also ideally seek to create a more perfectible society and more enlightened, engaged citizens. When the connections between social structures and post-secondary education are closely entangled, the university’s aims can take on a contentious struggle for identity in a vexing web of competing external interests – especially in light of scarce economic resources, corporate pressures, technological questions, and globalizing trends. Higher Education and Society weighs the urgent question of how society and higher education influence each other. How the latter responds to that unsettled issue may well determine whether colleges and universities chart a more self-reflective path or one of rising deference to societal contingencies. This book is essential for all those who study and work in today’s colleges – and for all those who seek a better education for their children, the nation, and the world. It is especially recommended for courses in higher education and society, contemporary issues in higher education, the philosophy of higher education, academic issues in higher education, leadership in higher education, and globalization and higher education. The book is also useful for the preparation of faculty development programs in colleges and universities.
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9. Student Loans: A Brief History, the Current Landscape, and Impacts on Society



The price of attending college has increased at well above the rate of inflation and growth in household income during the past several decades. Between the 1971–1972 and 2014–2015 academic years, tuition and fees increased 191% above inflation at private four-year colleges (to $31,231), 198% above inflation at public two-year colleges (to $3,347), and 265% above inflation at public four-year colleges (to $9,139) (Baum & Ma, 2014) while median household income increased only 8% faster than inflation during this period for families in the lowest two income quartiles (author’s calculation using Census Bureau data). In addition to tuition and fees, students and their families must cover costs for room and board, books, supplies, transportation, and other living expenses. All of these costs factor into the total cost of attendance that colleges have to report to the federal government, and research suggests that many colleges understate how much it costs to live modestly while being a student (Kelchen, Hosch, & Goldrick-Rab, 2014).

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