chapter  8
23 Pages

ACADEMIC CAPITAL FORMATION

Th e privatization of public higher education, a shift away from public subsidies to institutions and college students to using loans to fund college costs, has eroded public funding of higher education since 1980 (Heller, 2006; Parsons & St. John, 2004; Slaughter & Leslie, 1997; St. John, 2003). Th is has been accompanied by, or perhaps been a cause of, growing inequality in educational opportunity to enroll in college (St. John, Piñeda, & Moronski, 2009) and an apparent decline in the public commitment to social good as a rationale for funding (Pasque, 2007). Some scholars characterize this as a neoliberal shift in public policy, from valuing equity to valuing individual liberties (Henry, 2005), a philosophy that rationalizes the use of student loans as a means of funding colleges (Henry, Lingard, Rizvi, & Taylor, 2001; Levidow, 2005). Th e social ethos of modern societies is put at risk when graduates are burdened with excessive debt before they start their professional careers. In this new world of loans, low-income students who manage to graduate from college have substantially greater debt, on average, than middle-income students. While in college, low-income students oft en have more limited opportunities to engage in social and academic processes that build understanding of and commitment to uplift because they face greater demands to work while in college, which can also ultimately lessen the desire to give back to society through taxes or charity.