For many college students settling into their dorms this month, the path to campus — and paying for college — started long ago. And it likely involved their families.
The pressure to send kids to college, coupled with the realities of tuition, has fundamentally changed the experience of being middle class in America, says Caitlin Zaloom, an anthropologist and associate professor at New York University. It’s changed the way that middle class parents raise their children, she adds, and shaped family dynamics along the way.
Zaloom interviewed dozens of families taking out student loans for her new book, Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost. She defines those families as middle class because they make too much to qualify for federal aid — but too little to pay the full cost of a degree at most colleges. For many, the burden of student debt raises big questions about what a degree is for.
Hello! Money is on our minds in this mid-January edition of the Weekly Roundup.
Student loan default is a “crisis,” report says
Almost 40 percent of students who entered college in the fall of 2003 may default on their student loans by 2023. That is the conclusion of the Brookings Institution, which analyzed 20 years of federal data for two groups of student borrowers. Previously published data from the Department of Education looked at default rates just three to five years after borrowing. The new, long-term analysis found that for-profit college students and African-American college students had the highest rates of default. For black students who attended for-profits starting in the 1990s, two out of three eventually defaulted on their loans.