Scholar-activist Sara Goldrick-Rab | Courtesy of UofL

Temple University professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has won the University of Louisville’s 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Education for her research into the ever-expanding struggle modern students experience to afford college education.

Her findings were published in an award-winning 2016 book “Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid and the Betrayal of the American Dream.”

Goldrick-Rab was ranked the 13th most influential U.S. educational policy scholar by Education Week and founded the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s first and only research laboratory aimed at finding ways to make college affordable.

In her book, Goldrick-Rab examines the rising cost of tuition, housing and books and the gulf between those costs and the financial aid system that has not kept up with demand.

“Goldrick-Rab asserts the blame rests with the financial aid system,” said Marion Hambrick, Grawemeyer Award director and faculty member in UofL’s College of Education and Human Development, in a news release. “She argues the higher education structure — including how financial aid is calculated and awarded, how costs of attendance are calculated, and how higher education institutions are managed — needs a significant overhaul.”

Chicago Press, which published Goldrick-Rab’s research, writes, “Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money.”

Goldrick-Rab calls her book a “wake-up call” and presents possible solutions for the problem, including a public sector-focused “first degree free” program. She currently is creating a research center at Temple focused on these issues.

UofL will announce each of its five Grawemeyer Award winners over the course of this week. The awards honor recipients who embody the passions of H. Charles Grawemeyer, a Louisville entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. Grawemeyer established the awards in 1984 to celebrate, inspire and nurture achievements in music composition, education, religion, psychology and ideas improving world order.

The 2018 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their $100,000 prizes.