Paying the Price For Higher Ed

As we get ready for HSI 2019 here at Starfish, I am reminded of some of the enduring student success issues in higher ed. At HSI 2018, scholar-activist and author Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab delivered an inspiring keynote presentation on the equity gap in higher ed in the face of a challenging financial aid system. My fellow Starfishers and I are still talking about her presentation at the conference and the issues she highlighted to this day.

During her keynote, Goldrick-Rab told us about the research she began in 2008, when she  followed 3,000 Pell grant university students in Wisconsin over 6 years to understand why many students, despite those getting financial aid and support, were not graduating. The answers were surprising, alarming and a call for change.

Goldrick-Rab learned that college is more expensive than ever, wages are not what they used to be, and college is far too expensive for many people today. Financial aid is not meeting students’ tuition and living expenses, causing students to struggle with poverty and to pay for food and housing. According to Goldrick-Rab’s recent national study, 36% of university students are housing insecure. In addition, in her recent New York Times article, It Is Hard to Study When You’re Hungry, Goldrick-Rab stated that “an estimated half of all college students struggle with food insecurity, and food insecurity is strongly linked to lower graduation rates.”  

Inspired by her work, a panel of student success experts and I discussed some of the solutions put forth in Goldrick-Rab’s book, “Paying the Price.” We talked about students still not getting the support they need although institutions are able to connect students to solutions and interventions on campus. You can listen to this discussion on our podcast, Student Success HE.

We continue to talk about student success and look for ways to increase retention and graduation in higher ed. Please register for HSI 2019 and join me in Marco Island, Florida to talk about solutions to these challenges.

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