The Debtor Class: A 'Missing Element' in Understanding Higher Education and Income Inequality

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

Arthur Scarritt


Over the past thirty years, despite rapidly inflating tuition costs, students have been flocking to universities in the hopes of securing middle-upper class status. While some achieve that status, others do not, and sink deep into the quicksand of student debt. Why is it not everybody with a degree ‘makes it’? Higher education is often referred to as this ‘great equalizer’ in conversations about income inequality, however, I posit that it has become a large part of what maintains income inequality. To investigate this, a team of student researchers, including myself, critically interviewed Boise State students about their experience as a student. Traditionally, research in income inequality takes a macro-perspective. While macro-perspectives have given explanations as to how our education system works the way it does now, there are few explanations as to why it continues to operate like a business. Our investigation takes the perspective of students, and adds valuable micro-level insight to the research on this topic.

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