Sold My Soul for a Student Loan
Higher Education and the Political Economy of the Future
by Daniel T. Kirsch
April 2019, 179pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5071-4
$37, £28, 32€, A50
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5072-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

One in four American adults have at least some student debt, and more millennials have student debt than have mortgage debt.

With unprecedented student debt keeping an entire generation from realizing the "American Dream," this book sounds a warning about how that debt may undermine both higher education—and our democracy.

American higher education boasts one of the most impressive legacies in the world, but the price of admission for many is now endless debt. As this book shows, increasing educational indebtedness undermines the real value of higher education in our democracy. To help readers understand this dilemma, the book examines how student debt became commonplace and what the long-term effects of such an ongoing reality might be. Sold My Soul for a Student Loan examines this vitally important issue from an unprecedented diversity of perspectives, focusing on the fact that student debt is hindering the ability of millions of people to enter the job market, the housing market, the consumer economy, and the political process.

Among other topics, the book covers the history of consumer debt in the United States, the history of federal policy toward higher education, and political action in response to the issue of student debt. Perhaps most importantly, it explores the new relationship debtor-citizens have to the government as a result of debt, and how that impacts democracy for a new generation.


  • Examines both the causes of student debt and its implications for our democracy
  • Offers a 360-degree view of student debt from the perspective of students, graduates, policymakers, political activists, journalists, administrators, and college/university faculty
  • Provides a context for how student debt was created as a phenomenon much more complex than generational culture
  • Shows there is new hope in the form of a significant, multifaceted movement advocating for student debtors; and that government and banks are responding with new actions and programs
Daniel T. Kirsch, PhD, earned his doctorate in political science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and now teaches at California State University, Sacramento. He is a proud member of the American Association of University Professors and the California Faculty Association. His work includes his dissertation "Southie versus Roxbury: Crime, Welfare, and the Racialization of Massachusetts Gubernatorial Elections in the Post-Civil Rights Era" and contributions to the Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections and the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. He resides in Woodland, California with his family. This is his first book.


"An excellent work. A vital study of academic crisis today. Daniel T. Kirsch's work will be of great assistance to those seeking a better future for higher education."—Paul Buhle, Retired, Senior Lecturer, Brown University

"Sold My Soul for a Student Loan is a very timely book that shows how student loans are a part of American ideology and the political structure that makes social mobility through college a more precarious reality than ever before. By integrating personal accounts, interviews with relevant experts, and students that are facing the prospect of how to pay their massive college loans, Daniel T. Kirsch offers the reader a comprehensive view of this current political challenge. This book serves as a contribution to the scholarship on student debt, but most importantly it serves as a courageous call to action as to why student loan debt forgiveness should be considered as a viable alternative to make the American Dream a reality." —Carlos A. Suárez Carrasquillo, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Florida

"Daniel T. Kirsch offers a powerful and compelling analysis of the student loan crisis and its debilitating effect on the financial stability of the millennial generation. Going beyond mere statistics, readers are introduced to the real-life consequences that are ongoing for so many young Americans seeking to better their financial opportunities through education. This book is timely, comprehensive, engaging, and accessible: a must read for anyone interested in better understanding the true breadth and depth of this crisis within higher education and for the U.S. economy at large."—Lori Cox Han, Professor of Political Science, Chapman University

"Far more than simply a problem of higher education, the sheer monumentality of the student debt crisis represents a struggle over the future of society. Daniel T. Kirsch traces the origins of the crisis to a confluence of industry decisions and government policies and surveys the lasting damage inflicted upon rising generations. Drawing from rich ethnographic work on borrowers and lenders, students and administrators, grassroots organizers and technocrats, Kirsch evaluates a wide range of possible reforms. Anyone looking to rescue the future will find this study indispensable for its clear-eyed analysis and bold prescriptions."—Jeffrey D. Broxmeyer, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, The University of Toledo
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