Review: Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost

Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost by Caitlin Zaloom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

College affordability (or unaffordability) has been increasingly discussed in recent times and does not seem to be abating as costs go up, more loans are needed, and students upon graduating have jobs that do not pay as much to keep up with the interest. And that's where Zaloom's book hits hard with a critical exploration of how families try to afford college despite the legitimate obstacles in their way in general but also as a result of an educational financing system that works to undermine the middle class and poor families. Zaloom digs into this educational financing system, exposing how they prey on families' insecurities and vulnerabilities to put them in financially unstable situations while at the same time, casting a moral disdain for their inability to execute saving for college. She shows this in myriad ways including exploring how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is presented a value-neutral opportunity for students to apply for support in attaining their college education but when scrutinized, the form makes a variety of assumptions about the student (comes from a traditional nuclear 2-parent family wherein finances are easily acquirable from parents who have no other obligations--financial or otherwise--and can financially provide income based on the FAFSA's arbitrary assumption about income). Elsewhere, Zaloom shows how families who are in more precarious financial situations are faulted and blamed for not being able to save for college. What I find powerful about Zaloom's work is how deftly she weaves the experiences of subjects she interviews with policies and financial data to show how compromised families become in trying to support their children. In many ways, it echoes the healthcare concerns of millions who indebted for large amounts of money for services they can't live without but are stuck between deciding if they can afford medicine or rent. For everyone thinking about college for themselves or for their children, this is a must-read book, not to convince folks to avoid college but to recognize the ways the education financing industry is likely to manipulate and complicate the process.

View all my reviews

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.