Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Jon Shefner

Committee Members

Michelle Brown, Michelle Christian, Judah Schept


Student loan debt has quickly become a social problem that continues to affect both students and economic prospects for the future. My dissertation addresses the question of how political ideologies have informed the shift in societal engagement with public universities, while concurrently making higher education both a necessity and a problem of personal responsibility. I also examine the ways in which both debt and the current nature of public higher education have impacted student’s ability to engage in a democratic society, and how they navigate the changing arrangements in state support for public education.

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