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PAYING THE PRICE: Milwaukee (Sept 22)

Book talk

Minh Mai

on 23 September 2016

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Transcript of PAYING THE PRICE: Milwaukee (Sept 22)

Sara Goldrick-Rab

Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology
Temple University

Prezi by:

Paying the Price:
College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream

We met Ian and Alicia in 2008. We also met 2,998 other students like them across Wisconsin.
“I felt it in my heart that I wanted to go to college…but I don’t know for sure.

I kept on feeling like all I’m fixing to do is get through high school…and that’s it.
I’m going to get out of high school and have a job paying my mom’s bills.”

More than 75% of Milwaukee Public School seniors say they plan to attend college.
But only 35% of MPS graduates enroll within a year.
Less than 13% of those who start college will finish a degree of any kind within 6 years.
Today’s financial aid system focuses on students like Ian.
Growing up, “sometimes we didn’t have enough to eat,” “living in a ghetto-ish type neighborhood with a lot of violence.”
But the coupons that aid provides no longer cover the cost of college.
Purchasing Power of the Pell Grant at Public Institutions, by Type: 1974-2013
Total Pell Expenditures, Maximum and Average Pell Grant, and Number of Recipients: 1994-1995 – 2013-2014
Ian is not alone. His price is similar to the national average.
But it’s higher than many other prices in Wisconsin.

In our study, Milwaukee’s students paid about 19% more than students elsewhere.

Because the state of Wisconsin invests less in Milwaukee’s students than anyone else.
Trends in Wisconsin State Appropriations Per Student and Student’s Share of Instructional Costs at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, and the UW System Comprehensive Universities: 1973-20

% of students with loans

% of students with work-study

% of students working

Rest of WI
Two-thirds of students not currently working are nonetheless seeking work
It’s hard to find help.
Over 6 years we tracked those 3,000 students.

50% of them completed degrees, including 42% who started at 2-year colleges.

But in Milwaukee, just 41% finished anything.

Instead, more than 2 in 5 ended up with no degree—but they had debt.

66% borrowed for their first year of college, but never got a credential.

Would more grant aid have helped?

We conducted a randomized experiment that suggests, ‘yes’—but only partially.

The way the financial aid system works simply makes it too hard.

Too many rules … too much paperwork… and too many broken promises

The new economics of college are doing harm—
to students and this city.

We can do better.


The FAST FUND—created to help students immediately, by identifying and supporting them with faculty in their local schools.

This year, the FAST FUND is serving students at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Go to http://saragoldrickrab.com for more info.

Stay in touch
24% of students were food-insecure

16% had trouble paying rent on time

33% said that they felt obligated to support their family financially

“It’s one thing when you’re prepared for a situation – but when it comes out of nowhere as far as the bills and food and then still going to school, well, I just didn’t know what to do…. What am I gonna do, with everything coming with me at once?”
- Anne
When these students were born, there was a safety net.
Today it’s nearly nonexistent.

Talent development requires education—and today education is too risky.

Improving academic preparation will only do so much. College readiness must be matched with reasonable college prices.


1. For simpler and clearer policies that support students
2. For money that reaches them when they need it
3. For a financing system that recognizes we can’t afford to push students out of college

“I don’t want to see myself where my mom is. I don’t want to ever have to depend on a guy to take care of my daughter and me. I look at people who don’t go to college and I know I’ve got to do something. Without a college education you can’t get a good job anywhere.”

We got to know them over the next 6 years—their classes, their grades, their financial aid, their jobs, their lives.
Every last one got a federal Pell Grant, which is supposed to make college affordable.
But nearly every student was still paying the price.
Ian’s family of 5 children made $24,686 per year.
His “expected family contribution” was $425.
His public university charged $17,633 per year.
Grants helped—to the tune of $7,049.
He still needed to come up with the other $10K,
and the federal loan limit was $5,500.
If Ian attended college the year he was born, his net price would have been close to $0.
Full transcript