Britain Hopkins—The Origins of the Student Loan Industry in the United States

In this episode of the Journal of American History Podcast Stephen Andrews speaks with Britain Hopkins about her article, “The Origins of the Student Loan Industry in the United States: Richard Cornuelle, United Student Aid Funds, and the Creation of the Guaranteed Student Loan Program,” which appeared in the March 2024 issue of the Journal of American History. Through a consideration of key legislation and actors, she contributes to understandings of the origins of the student loan industry and student loan indebtedness in the United States. The article highlights how private organizations and actors—such as the American Bankers Association and the Volker Fund—worked with the Johnson and Nixon administrations to establish student loans as a primary means of funding higher education. These private-federal partnerships increasingly sought to commodify student loans on financial markets, thereby tethering access to higher education to previously excluded groups to market incorporation. The article thereby identifies the origins of student loan indebtedness as a legacy of the Johnson administration’s Great Society agenda. Stephen and Britain discuss neoliberalism, debt, and behind the scenes creation of this article. They also the historicize student debt and the complex, multifaceted issues that historically constructed the current student debt crisis.

Read the article here: https://doi.org/10.1093/jahist/jaad351

Music: King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band’s Mabel’s Dream, 1923

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