This week I finally had my laptop stuff sorted out. My new one is all set up, and I’ve updated my zotero bibliography. My assignment is to write a historiographic paper, and to find 10 primary sources. It so happens that I actually already have plenty of primary sources, but am still struggling with finding relevant secondary ones. For the most part, research has been done to improve education and financial aid, and more has been said on the reauthorizations of the Higher Education Act, especially in the Reagan era, than the original act.
I think the problem here lies in the fact that, while the original act was a huge deal, it wasn’t planned very well. I can’t remember which of my sources it was at the moment, but one of the historians mentioned that LBJ had a lot of plans and ideas for reform, but he didn’t really think of methods for making them permanent. For example, the Higher Education Act required these re-authorizations every few years. LBJ had some great ideas, but he wasn’t thinking of how they would play out in the long-run. That’s the big thing I’ve gotten so far.
Besides that, what historians have said about all aspects of that Act just has to do with how it created a guaranteed student loan program but, as Irwin Unger points out, while enrollment increased, the quality of education went down. For the first time, the new generation of students would have a lower quality of education than their parents. Additionally, many students defaulted on loans and did not benefit from a college education.
I think I have a good start right now. I just have to probe deeper and see what else I can find in footnotes. It seems that the books on LBJ don’t have much historical analysis on this act. It makes sense that there isn’t a whole lot on the topic, considering that we didn’t really worry about it as much before. But now, with our economy and advancements in technology, rising tuition costs and student loan debt are big concerns. More information is present on the current crisis than the origins of the student loan program.