Cover: Indentured Students: How Government-Guaranteed Loans Left Generations Drowning in College Debt, from Harvard University PressCover: Indentured Students in HARDCOVER

Indentured Students

How Government-Guaranteed Loans Left Generations Drowning in College Debt

Product Details


$29.95 • £26.95 • €27.95

ISBN 9780674251489

Publication Date: 08/03/2021


400 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

7 photos, 3 illus.

Belknap Press


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Valuable… Patiently reconstructs the evolution of our student lending system.Wall Street Journal

[Has] important contributions to make on the present debate about what to do with existing student loan debt, while even leaving room for more discussion of what should be done to help students on higher education institutions moving forward… Shermer’s book is a sustained indictment of the entire edifice.—John Warner, Chicago Tribune

This well-researched history provides crucial context for understanding a thorny social problem.Publishers Weekly

The roots of today’s student debt crisis run deep, and Indentured Students is the first work to uncover them. Works like this that successfully combine original and sophisticated scholarship, moral urgency, and political relevance rarely come along. Shermer has written a brilliant gem of a book.—Jonathan Levy, author of Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States

We look back on the New Deal as a heyday of progressive policymaking. Shermer pulls back the veil to show how political maneuvering sowed the seeds of the student debt crisis. Moreover, she documents in exquisite detail how the racialization of student debt was not an accident, it was inevitable. Empirically rich and clearly written, Indentured Students not only unearths the foundations of a national emergency crippling generations and stalling economic mobility but also provides lessons for the fight against it.—Anthony Abraham Jack, author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students

Crafting an effective new approach to financing higher education requires grappling with the past. Policymakers, scholars, and anyone who has experienced the burden of paying for college and paying off loans will benefit from this important book.—Sara Goldrick-Rab, author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream

Indentured Students is a superb history of the financing of higher education for students in the United States who are not rich and privileged. Shermer details the politics, policies, values, motivations, and compromises from the New Deal forward concerning college affordability. This book is essential for understanding the history of higher education and today’s student debt crisis.—William A. Herbert, Executive Director, National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, Hunter College

This impressive, important book unravels the roots of the student debt crisis. Shermer traces the federal government’s involvement in higher education financing from its halting nineteenth-century origins right up to the present. No one has offered so comprehensive and wide-ranging an account of the tangled development of federal policy, financial practices, and higher education in the United States.—Bruce J. Schulman, author of The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics

With vivid clarity, Shermer shows how unsustainable the debt-driven financing of U.S. higher education financing has become. Illuminating how bad policy saddled millions with crushing debts, she helps us envision liberation from the savage inequalities of the system on which higher education now depends. Indentured Students is essential reading for anyone concerned about the intertwined futures of education and democracy.—Joseph A. McCartin, Executive Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University

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