Indentured Students

Why do 45 million of us owe more than $1.7 trillion?

It didn’t always take thirty years to pay off the cost of a bachelor’s degree. The story of skyrocketing college debt is not merely one of good intentions gone wrong. Presidents, Senators, and Representatives intentionally created a loan program that has disproportionately left students of color, especially women, owing more.

Advanced Praise

“With vivid clarity, Shermer shows how unsustainable the debt-driven financing of U.S. higher education financing has become. Illuminating how bad policy saddled millions with crushing debts, she helps us envision liberation from the savage inequalities of the system on which higher education now depends. Indentured Students is essential reading for anyone concerned about the intertwined futures of education and democracy.”—Joseph A. McCartin, Executive Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University

“The roots of today’s student debt crisis run deep, and Indentured Students is the first work to uncover them. Works like this that successfully combine original and sophisticated scholarship, moral urgency, and political relevance rarely come along. Shermer has written a brilliant gem of a book.”—Jonathan Levy, author of Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States

Featured on the March 17, 2024 episode of

 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Hear part of the story on: 

The Real Cost Documentary, currently on AppleTV

Throughline's August 2022 "Student Loans: The Fund-Eating Dragon" episode

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