The Indentured Students of America

Open Access
Merlini, Kevin Wall
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Sajay Samuel, Thesis Supervisor
  • Orie Edwin Barron, Honors Advisor
  • John Jesse Cheslock, Faculty Reader
  • student debt
  • higher education
  • debt peonage
  • indentured servitude
  • student loans
  • college
  • university
  • tuition prices
Over the past several decades there has been an unprecedented rise in college enrollments, tuition prices, and the amounts borrowed to finance higher education. We have reached a tipping point where the cost of obtaining a college degree forces a significant portion of the population into what effectively functions as indentured servitude. This paper aims to serve two purposes; first, to outline the various phenomena that brought about our culture of student debt, and to explain the underlying causes of those phenomena. Second, this paper compares the system of colonial indentured servitude with modern day student debt peonage, and goes on to discuss the consequences that such a system has on individuals, society, and the economy.