A college degree is the key to opportunity and economic success in America today, a fact that has brought new attention to questions of college access and affordability. Rising college costs and low levels of household savings mean that existing federal loan and grant programs cannot meet the needs of many students. The search for additional funds has spurred explosive growth in private, "nontraditional" student loans. The private student loan market, which was only an afterthought fifteen years ago, today accounts for 18 percent of all loans for postsecondary education. Although much attention is paid to federal loan and grant programs, this emergent sector has largely escaped careful scholarly analysis.
The growth of the private loan market provides an opportunity to reexamine a system of federal student aid that was designed in the 1960s and early 1970s, an era when colleges and credit markets looked very different than they do today. Footing the Tuition Bill explores fundamental questions about the purposes of federal student loans, how well traditional arrangements and gatekeepers work in the modern era, and how innovations might offer guidance for rethinking the design of financial aid. This collection of pioneering studies examines why the private postsecondary lending market has emerged, what it looks like, how it works, and the possibilities and tensions it poses for the future efforts to ensure that the doors of college are open to all Americans.
Contributors: Richard Lee Colvin, director, Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, Teachers College, Columbia University; Richard George, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation; Alan Greenblatt, Governing magazine; William D. Hansen, Chartwell Education Group; Frederick M. Hess (editor), American Enterprise Institute; Joseph Keeney, founder and chief executive officer, School Choice Investments; Bridget Terry Long, associate professor of education and economics, Harvard University¹s Graduate School of Education; Christopher Mazzeo, former senior policy analyst, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices; Erin K. Riley, independent research consultant; Andrew Rudalevige, associate professor of political science, Dickinson College; John R. Thelin, research professor, University of Kentucky Education Policy Studies School.