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The debt trap : how student loans became a national catastrophe  Cover Image Book Book

The debt trap : how student loans became a national catastrophe

Summary: "In 1981, a new executive at Sallie Mae took home the company's financial documents to review. "You've got to be shitting me," he later told the company's CEO. "This place is a gold mine." Over the next four decades, the student loan industry that Sallie Mae and Congress created blew up into a crisis that would submerge a generation of Americans in $1.5 trillion in student debt. In The Debt Trap, Wall Street Journal reporter Josh Mitchell tells the untold story of the scandals, scams, predatory actors, and government malpractice that have created the behemoth that one of its original architects called a "monster." The tale begins in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik. Afraid that America was falling behind the Soviets in science education, Congress created the first major federal student loan program to enroll more students in college. What followed were a series of well-intentioned government actions that created a cycle of reckless lending and runaway tuition. Easy access to loans allowed colleges to raise tuition to unheard of levels, which in turn led Congress to increase loan limits and interest rates and expand who could borrow. This spiral continued as the private banks that fronted the money made huge profits on interest. "Nobody was pure in this business," one former college president said. As he charts the gripping seventy-year history of student debt in America, Mitchell never loses sight of the countless student victims ensnared by an exploitive system that depends on their debt. Mitchell also draws alarming parallels to the housing crisis in the late 2000s, showing the catastrophic consequences student debt has had on families and the nation's future. Mitchell's character-driven narrative is required reading for anyone wanting to understand the central economic issue of our day.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9781501199448
  • ISBN: 1501199447
  • Physical Description: print
    260 pages ; 23 cm
  • Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
  • Publisher: New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 2021.

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical resources (page 245) and index.
Formatted Contents Note: Introduction -- The visionary (1957-1969) -- When Ed met Sallie (1969-1990) -- Our greedy colleges (1974-1990) -- American dreamer (1991-1995) -- The Lord of Wall Street (1994-2008) -- Hope and hubris (2006-2016) -- The great unequalizer (2014-2015) -- State U Inc. (2014-2018) -- The trap (2016-2018) -- Conclusion.
Subject: College costs United States
Student loans United States
Finance, Personal United States
Education, Higher United States Finance
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
College costs
Education, Higher Finance
Finance, Personal
Student loans
United States

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library System. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Public Library.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
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Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Homer Public Library 378.38 MIT (Text) 000162079 Nonfiction Available -

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