Anya Kamenetz

 

Anya Kamenetz is a contributing writer for Fast Company. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Salon, Slate, The Nation, and the Village Voice. She is the author of several books on the future of education including DIY U (Chelsea Green, 2010) and Generation Debt (Riverhead Books, 2006).

 

Recent Articles

How to Fix the Federal Student Aid System

The New America Foundation takes a crack.

Flickr/Bearseye
A landmark report came out last week from the New America Foundation featuring a novel plan to fix the federal student aid program. What makes it so new? It helps more Americans finish college—the end game of federal student aid—without burdening them with debt. The report has 30 specific recommendations for everything from the Pell grant to the student loan program. And here's the kicker—according to their accounting, the changes are revenue-neutral over the next ten years. The idea is to simplify programs—for example, by having only one student loan program with one repayment plan—so families don't borrow as much up front, colleges don't have as much freedom to raise prices, and students have the support they need to stick with an education program. It’s the sign of a truly broken system that there is so much low-hanging fruit to be found: it would actually be quite possible to save money and help more of the neediest all at the same time. But implementing the whole plan would...

The Truth about Student Debt

In 40 percent of cases where a student loan debtor sought forgiveness of their loans as part of a bankruptcy case, the judge granted at least some relief. Only 0.1 percent took the bait.

Flickr/Occupy Student Debt Campaign
There are a few ready talking points when discussing the student-loan crisis: the collective $1 trillion burden of debt, how student debt is now larger than credit card debt in this country, the fact that the 90-day delinquency rate spiked to 11 percent last year, meaning over one in ten borrowers are behind on their payments—all facts that don’t give much hope to those with loans, or those trying to resolve the financial crisis. Another widely repeated belief is that student loans are completely nondischargeable in bankruptcy, a statement that a quick fact-check proves to be rated “pants on fire” and one that is causing tens of thousands of borrowers to suffer for no reason, for years. A new empirical study of a nationwide sample of bankruptcy cases by Jason Iuliano, a Harvard Law School graduate and Princeton political science PhD student, shows that in 40 percent of cases where a student loan debtor sought forgiveness of their loans as part of a bankruptcy case, the judge granted...

The Truth about Student Debt

Flickr/Occupy Student Debt Campaign
There are a few ready talking points when discussing the student-loan crisis: the collective $1 trillion burden of debt, how student debt is now larger than credit card debt in this country, the fact that the 90-day delinquency rate spiked to 11 percent last year, meaning over one in ten borrowers are behind on their payments—all facts that don’t give much hope to those with loans, or those trying to resolve the financial crisis. Another widely repeated belief is that student loans are completely nondischargeable in bankruptcy, a statement that a quick fact-check proves to be rated “pants on fire” and one that is causing tens of thousands of borrowers to suffer for no reason, for years. A new empirical study of a nationwide sample of bankruptcy cases by Jason Iuliano, a Harvard Law School graduate and Princeton political science PhD student, shows that in 40 percent of cases where a student loan debtor sought forgiveness of their loans as part of a bankruptcy case, the judge granted...

The Virtual University

The demand for higher education is rapidly eclipsing the ability of
traditional universities to provide it. The solution lies online.

(Flickr/Eschipul)
For most of the thousand years or so since it was invented, a university education was thought to be suited for only a tiny group -- a ruling class or a subculture of scholars. Today, nine out of 10 American high school seniors say they want to go to college. Since World War II, this country has turned higher education into not only a mass-market product but the best hope of achieving a middle-class income. Sending your kids to college is now part of the American dream, just like homeownership. And like homeownership, it's something for which we have been willing to go deeply into hock. Faith in the universal power of higher learning is at the heart of modernity. From enhancing our basic humanity to preserving culture, from developing our economy and technology to redressing ills like global warming and AIDS, there are very few needs for which more education has not been prescribed. As H.G. Wells famously put it, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and...

The Real Student Debt Problem

The College Cost Reduction Act was a victory for student aid reform advocates. But we still need to examine how aid is distributed.

This fall, those calling for reform of student aid have had a lot to celebrate. Last month, President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. Championed by Democrats George Miller and Nancy Pelosi, the package cut $21 billion in excessive subsidies to student lenders, shifted the money to increase Pell Grants (the largest need-based student grant), and cut interest rates on federal student loans. The significant subsidy cut, along with other turmoil in the credit markets, scotched a private equity takeover of Sallie Mae, the largest student lender. This averted the specter of a company that holds $153 billion in student loans and that was created as a government-sponsored enterprise, becoming privately held with no obligation even to make SEC filings. Sallie Mae is currently suing their cold-feet suitors. More important, by reforming repayment rules, the bill takes steps toward restoring the premise championed in our country from the creation of the land-grant...

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