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K-State Today

May 22, 2018

Book on student debt featuring K-State professor's chapter wins AERA award

Submitted by Patrice L. Scott

A new book critiquing public policy surrounding student loans received the American Educational Research Association's outstanding book award. It features a chapter by Kay Ann Taylor, College of Education associate professor of curriculum and instruction.

"The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education" was named the 2018 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award. Taylor authored a chapter titled "'Golden Years' in the Red: Student Loan Debt as Economic Slavery."

"It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise," Taylor said upon learning of the award. For her, the subject is personal.

Taylor offers a candid overview of her life. Her story is riddled with public policy collisions that began when her family lost their family farm in Iowa to eminent domain, to stints on welfare as a divorced mother, and to ultimately placing her hope for economic uplift in higher education. She started her master's degree program at age 47 and earned her doctorate at 52.

The loan agreements she signed are as complex as the interstate system that consumed her farm, only now she is financially consumed by compounding interest. Her monthly statements reveal little progress on paying down the debt.

"I was fortunate to be able to apply for subsidized loans because, since 2012, graduate students are not offered subsidized loans, which exacerbates their debt burden," she wrote.

Taylor also notes senior citizens are among those with the highest default rates and that social security and disability benefits can be garnished. "The system is flawed," Taylor said.

Taylor remains an ardent champion for education and believes hers is a cautionary tale. She advocates for a return to the Land-Grant College Act — Morrill Act — or, at the minimum, interest-free student loans as she concludes economic justice and social justice are inherently intertwined.