Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Crushing burden of student loan debt

posted by Rod Dreher

Parents of Earth, read this New York Times column! Excerpt:

Like many middle-class families, Cortney Munna and her mother began the college selection process with a grim determination. They would do whatever they could to get Cortney into the best possible college, and they maintained a blind faith that the investment would be worth it.
Today, however, Ms. Munna, a 26-year-old graduate of New York University, has nearly $100,000 in student loan debt from her four years in college, and affording the full monthly payments would be a struggle. For much of the time since her 2005 graduation, she’s been enrolled in night school, which allows her to defer loan payments.
This is not a long-term solution, because the interest on the loans continues to pile up. So in an eerie echo of the mortgage crisis, tens of thousands of people like Ms. Munna are facing a reckoning. They and their families made borrowing decisions based more on emotion than reason, much as subprime borrowers assumed the value of their houses would always go up.
Meanwhile, universities like N.Y.U. enrolled students without asking many questions about whether they could afford a $50,000 annual tuition bill. Then the colleges introduced the students to lenders who underwrote big loans without any idea of what the students might earn someday — just like the mortgage lenders who didn’t ask borrowers to verify their incomes.

Columnist Ron Lieber adds:

It is utterly depressing that there are so many people like her facing decades of payments, limited capacity to buy a home and a debt burden that can repel potential life partners. For starters, it’s a shared failure of parenting and loan underwriting.
But perhaps the biggest share lies with colleges and universities because they have the most knowledge of the financial aid process. And I would argue that they had an obligation to counsel students like Ms. Munna, who got in too far over their heads.

I’ve written before here about how when I was preparing for college in 1984, I had stars in my eyes about Georgetown. My father pointed out that we couldn’t afford it. No problem, I told him, I’ll apply for student loans. He put the smackdown on that idea, saying it was foolish to go heavily into debt for an undergraduate degree. I thought he was a mean old bastard. I ended up at LSU on scholarship. It was one of the greatest things my dad ever did for me: giving me the gift of graduating without the burden of student loan debt. I can’t tell you what an impression that made on me, and how grateful I am for it. And it has made me radically re-evaluate the advice the follow-your-bliss a respected English professor gave me when I was an undergraduate. I didn’t take it — I thought my bliss then was a philosophy degree — because I was fortunate enough to discover a love of and a talent for journalism. Still, while I understand where that professor was coming from, that kind of advice borders on malpractice. Professors, like the college loan officers cited in Lieber’s column, seem to feel their responsibilities end at keeping the system running, no matter what the ultimate cost in indebtedness and poor job prospects to the undergraduates.
When my niece Hannah was here last week, I listened to her dreams for college, and told her the story of how Pawpaw once seemed like a cruel crusher of my college dreams, with his stingy bean-counting — but how I later understood that he had made for me an extremely wise choice, one I was incapable of making because I was thinking emotionally, and receiving enabling advice from people who had the same emotional orientation toward higher education that I did (e.g., there’s no such thing as paying too much for a top-quality education). I don’t know if any of it sank in; I’d be surprised if it did. So it may well fall to her parents to be spited for a few years, then thanked profusely later, once Hannah gets into the dreaded Real World, and grasps how much a big student loan load would straitjacket her future and freedom of movement.
“All I could see was college, and a good college and how proud I was of her,” [Cortney Munna's mom] Cathryn said. “All we needed to do was get this education and get the good job. This is the thing that eats away at me, the naïveté on my part.”



Advertisement
Comments read comments(63)
post a comment
eccentric libertarian

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:03 pm


This goes double for students pursuing degrees in fields (mostly the liberal arts subjects) where they cannot hope to repay (within any kind of reasonable timeline) such loans on the lower salaries typically found in their chosen fields.
And don’t get me started on for-profit ‘schools’ like DeVry, University of Phoenix, etc. Include also, sadly, many community colleges in this group. They essentially exist to push students who underachieved in high school & many of whom are not prepared for collegiate work into borrowing money to pay for a degree (I won’t say an education) that the students know they need to have any hope of finding decent-paying jobs (that’s where the emotion comes in).
But such schools KNOW that the graduation rate for their students is abysmal – in some cases, below 30%. And that’s leaving aside the fact that the value in the marketplace of such degrees (for that lucky 30% who do manage to graduate, tens of thousands of dollars in debt) is not high.



report abuse
 

Rombald

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm


Higher education is a scam all the way through.
Only perhaps 5% of jobs actually need college degrees, never mind higher degrees. The only reason employers require degrees is that they imagine anyone without a degree is lazy or stupid.
What percentage of graduates earn as much as people with decent blue-colar skills? Seriously.
Education addiction should be treated pretty much like heroin addiction.
The solutions should involve these sorts of approaches:
1. Anyone who gets high-school grades in the top 2% gets a free, quite generous, grant to attend the university of his/her choice, from the government. Anyone else gets nothing, and any loans get taxed.
2. Subsidise apprenticeships. Mandate on-the-job training for anyone under 26.
3. Encourage employers, in various subtle ways, to regard time spent in education as functionally equivalent to time spent on welfare.
4. Stop taking academics seriously.



report abuse
 

Joshua

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm


Rod,
I’m very fortunate that my family is, relatively speaking, poor. At the time of my going to college, tuition for the school was in the low-$30k range. Of that $30k annual tuition, I was given aid for about $26k each year. The remaining $4,000 came from work-study on campus and summer jobs at home and a small student loan. Eight years after graduating, and I have no debts whatsoever.
Somewhat paradoxically, this did allow me to “follow my bliss,” at least to a certain degree. I majored in Latin solely because I found it – the language and all the history & culture it embraces – fascinating. I had no prospects of material advancement, that’s for sure. Yet at present, I’m a high-school Latin teacher, inculcating (at times subtly) the true merits of the Western Tradition into a new generation of youngsters. My job is endlessly fulfilling and my wife and I have a great deal of flexibility in our lifestyle (growing more Crunchy Con by the day!) owing to our financial situation.
On the other hand, I have friends who – again, nearly a decade out of school – have five- and six-figure debt loads. Accordingly, they are stuck in jobs they don’t want precisely because they fear the alternative. Are these even the jobs for which they are best suited? I don’t know and can’t say, I just know that they remain in them because they must.
Would I have had the wisdom to reject a pricier school if I had been accepted without a generous aid package? I don’t know. I do know that, for whatever reason, my wife and I – she also is debt-free – have been amazingly fortunate. So when the subject of college comes up in my classroom, I feel it’s my personal responsibility to advise my students to avoid the burdens of debt to whatever degree they can. From this we often have far-ranging discussions about the nature of wanting things you can’t have and what classical civilization had for answers on this and related questions. Like I said, I like what I do.



report abuse
 

kenneth

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm


It’s insane to see kids these days spending $40,000 a year (and more) on undergraduate degrees. A liberal arts degree by itself is virtually worthless. It (almost) qualifies you to work at Starbucks. Moreover, that $100,000 you borrow is not $100,000. It’s more like $300,000 by the time you pay it back. We’re effectively saddling 22-year olds with the debt burden of a large home mortgage. A “home” they can’t live in, which may well never appreciate in value and which can never, ever be walked away from, defaulted or sold in a short sale.
I count myself very fortunate. My parents were able to foot most of the cost of a state school back in the late 80s/early 90s, when tuition was still quite affordable. Grad school was essentially free under the program I landed in. Unfortunately, going into journalism was sort of like being a wooden warship designer in the age of steam, but so it goes… These days it’s community college, which is still quite affordable at $500 a class or so.
It’s a great option for younger kids too. I see no value in spending tens of thousands of dollars for 100-level humanities courses. With academia outsourcing and using cut-throat economics like everyone else these days, there are many high-quality professors out there who can’t get tenured four-year college gigs, so they work the community college circuit. Some are retired private industry folks who do it more or less as a hobby. I feel bad for the young phd’s who are busting their tails for less money than cab drivers, but it’s an excellent opportunity for students. In the end, I will rack up $100,000 or so of debt in pharmacy school, but at least I’ll eventually be making a salary that will keep up with that debt.



report abuse
 

Christopher

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Well one bright spot is that federal loans can be paid back using something known as income based repayment in which the amount you pay back is a percentage of your income. It will vary depending upon the number of dependents you have. However, it will never exceed 15% of your income and for most borrowers it will be around 11-12% of income. Persosn who work in non-profits or in public service will have the remaining balance after 10 years forgiven. For someone like myself who is getting a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology there are also other types of loan forgiveness programs. BUT higher education is not a scam, its a bubble. I got my BA for free since I was on a full academic scholarship and I paid for my M.S. degree out of pocket at 20,000. My Ph.D. is very expensive but worth every penny. If my income goes up after getting a doctorate (and it will) the degree will pay for itself relatively quickly. However, education must change because it is pricing itself out of the pockets of the middle class. The Ivory Tower must crumble and be replaced by more online and non-traditional ways of learning. One option is a very old one pioneered by the University of London in the 19th century. This is the “validation” of degrees by external examination. Today it is possible to earn a BA or BS or MS degree from the University of London by taking exams after a period of study. The exams are the same ones the residential students take in the UK. It is a quite inexpensive way to earn a world class degree. Thsi was the first form of “distance learning” and the brits have been doing it for a very long time.



report abuse
 

Matt

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm


Rombald, studies show that a good majority of people with college degrees earn more than blue collar. It is just a fact. And something like 65% of the people that don’t get college degrees turn around and say they regret it, because they get stuck in a job with no hope of advancement and no time to get a degree. And most of these people don’t think that their employer’s just want an empty degree – they feel that the degree will teach them what they need to do a better job.
There are problems with Higher Education – I know, I work in it. But to say it is a scam is a pathetic judgment on those that work in it that do care about providing quality degrees to the students. I have worked with hundreds of professors that held jobs in the fields they are teaching, and have seen how they spend countless hours developing classes that will prepare students for jobs in practical ways. Do people like you understand the concept of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Despite what some think, not every college professor and every college is out there to waste students time and give them a worthless degree. I was just talking to a guy creating a new website portfolio system that found that the number of jobs that actually need degrees is well over 50%, and many of the managers looking to hire are trying to figure out which degrees out of the many options will train students the best for their specific situation. The problem is seldom the college degree – it is the person interviewing not knowing how to sell themselves, or how to tailor their application to the open position. Managers today are tired of feeling like they are the ones being interviewed by the applicants – they have to prove to them why they they should be allowed to hire them, and how the job should be changed to fit their needs.
Oh, and by the way – you wouldn’t have the Internet if it wasn’t for academics. Interesting irony there. You keep on judging them and not taking them seriously, all the while you will be using something some academic somewhere invented (if not the internet, then something else) probably several times a day.



report abuse
 

Don Altobello

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm


I am fortunate to be almost debt free at age 29–just a few more months left. However, this is due to the fact that I received full tuition remission in undergrad (a parent worked at the school) and though I incurred some debt through law school, I had plenty in savings and my parents were able to help me out.
I agree with the other posters here that higher education needs to be re-thought. What is so bad about tailoring an apprenticeship/part-time schooling program for folks who are more inclined toward a “trade” type of occupation. And what on earth is the point of many states requiring accountants to take 150 hours to sit for the CPA exam? The practical skills of functioning in a professional environment, as well as the “soft skills” of navigating that arena simply are not learned in a classroom or pissing around in a frat house for another semester/year.
Law schools–I’ll start my Tax LLM next year under self-imposed “pay as you go” guidelines (not the kind Congress uses…lol). But these programs are complete cash cows…and considering the last year and a half of law school is pretty much a waste of time anyway, why not allow some sort of program where students can acquire simply use the last 1-1.5 to specialize?
It’s all about money…and believe you me there are far to many lazy-ass, tenured professors who are the equivalent of welfare recipients dressed up as high priests.



report abuse
 

stefanie

posted May 29, 2010 at 1:54 pm


Rod, thanks for writing about this. It’s a serious problem, and involves decisions which many 18-, 19-year olds are incapable of making.
Or, for that matter, one which many *adults* seem incapable of making, when you consider all the credit card and unrealistically large home mortgage debt out there. Compound interest is NOT intuitive, and most have no clue how much that loan is really going to cost them. But that should be part of the loan disclosure process (just like it is now with credit cards, thanks to the recent credit card law.)
The article doesn’t point out a significant part of the problem, though, which is the high schools. High school attitudes shape the kids when they are vulnerable. Teachers and guidance counselors tell h.s. students that “a top-class education is worth any price,” yadda yadda. Further, high school personnel are usually at least a few years behind the curve in knowing what’s going on with job trends.
There are probably considerable #s of students AND parents who don’t know that student debt is NOT dischargeable with bankruptcy. This should be disclosed in *big print* whenever someone takes out a student loan, especially now that they are all coming from the federal government.
Community colleges are great, but they are going to need a lot more state and federal funding if they are going to take up the slack of expensive four-year colleges.
I liked it that your father used the “tough love” approach on you. More parents need to do that.



report abuse
 

MH

posted May 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm


This thread is likely to be people piling on about college not being worth the debt. This is not true for the right degree.
I graduated from college in 1987 with a science degree, a minor in electrical engineering, and $17,000 in debt at 9% interest. That’s probably equal to $30,000 or more now. The lifetime of increased wages for a science degree was worth every penny and probably more.
So the right degree coupled with aptitude and desire in the right field can be worth the debt. This is from someone who hates debt and buys everything (except a house) with cash.



report abuse
 

Erin Manning

posted May 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm


Rombald, I like your ideas. As to whether blue-collar workers can make more–well, just like white collar workers, it depends. The craftsman who installed some tile in our home is probably better off than we are–but the gentlemen who put some carpet in a few years ago, who don’t own their business and merely work for others, are probably not. Just like the white-collar world, for blue-collar workers to get ahead requires intelligence, ambition, hard work and determination–but it’s not impossible, not by a long shot. Statistics may show blue-collar workers making less, but I tend to think these are somewhat skewed by the relatively small number of white-collar workers who manage to make (individually) well over $200,000 a year–and few of *these* have merely a bachelor’s degree.
MH also points to a reality few want to talk about–some degrees are more valuable than others. Coming from a middle-class family, and taking out student loans etc. to get through school, I was irresponsible to study English literature. I should have been earning a technical or science degree and, perhaps, minoring in English lit. for the fun of it. Luckily, though, when a professor in my school began urging me to go to straight to grad school and get my master’s in English, I had the sense to realize that taking on the additional debt without paying any of what I’d already incurred would have been madness.
When I went to college, though, my parents still believed that earning a liberal arts degree was a good bet for the future, to get good jobs etc. It wasn’t. Today’s parents are trapped in the mindset which says a bachelor’s degree from a “good” school (earned right after high school) is imperative for future success. More and more, I think that will cease to be true, and alternative paths such as concentrated two-year technical degree programs will become viable options (because why, exactly, does a person who is going to spend his or her life performing some highly technical task need to spend the first two years of college “repeating” the general education he or she should have received in high school?).



report abuse
 

Brian

posted May 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm


I’m currently in a state college in Colorado working toward a business management degree. I have around $23,000 in student debt with about a year left, but it’s worth it. I am getting the same degree as if I was going to the really expensive private school in town, but I’m just out to get the piece of paper to move on to seminary. I have learned a quite a bit, though. I agree with the belief that education is what one makes of it. I wouldn’t go into massive debt to pay for education.



report abuse
 

Peterk

posted May 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm


the problem is that universities/colleges have become trade schools. look at some of the degree programs. It used to be one went to school to get an education
I have 2 degrees in history and also studied biology, German and political science in college. When I graduated 35 years ago I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Now I work for a major software company assisting customers in the design and implementation of the technology. How many kids today coming out of college with a job specific degree will be working in that field 5 years from now



report abuse
 

stefanie

posted May 29, 2010 at 2:55 pm


Brian, not to pick on you, but that $23,000 student debt will cost you (assuming 6.25% interest, and a 10-year repayment period) $42,171. IOW, $23,000 in principal, and almost $20k in interest. That’s assuming you don’t borrow any more.
Compound interest calculator: http://www.moneychimp.com/calculator/compound_interest_calculator.htm
I don’t think it really matters *what* your major is. Right now, engineers and accountants are among the highest-paid graduates. However, (no link, sorry) I read a few weeks ago that of the accountants and engineers who were looking for jobs in their senior year of college, only about 40% of them HAD a job when they graduated.
My daughter’s accounting profs have told their students that they should budget about 9 months to get a job.
Now, IIRC, federal student loans need to be repaid between 6 to 9 months after graduation. So even in higher-demand, higher-demanding professions, students *still* may find that they can’t start the payments on time. Even if they ask for forbearance, *the interest still racks up.*
It probably only goes downhill from there. The girl in the article was *very* lucky to be paying only 750/mo rent (in San Francisco, no less!) and bringing home $23K/yr after taxes. Many, many college grads are doing far more poorly, earning $10/hr instead of her $22. There is no way they can pay those loans off, and their interest can balloon their total cost to 3X or even 4X of the original loan amount.
Has this Captcha evolved AI? “noticing gain”



report abuse
 

cuband

posted May 29, 2010 at 3:12 pm


I have been paying my loan off for YEARS, and I still owe $15k. It makes a dent in my monthly income, thats for sure.



report abuse
 

Bluegrass Up

posted May 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm


Makes me glad I went to college back in the stone age, i.e. the 1970s. I went to an excellent state university where in-state tuition was $225 per semester. Even in the money of those days, it took only about four or five weeks of summer canning factory work for me to earn my tuition for the coming school year; and the rest of the summer went a long way toward covering my living and other expenses for the coming year. Grants were also more readily available in those days. End result, I graduated only $1800 in debt, and that was at only 3% interest.



report abuse
 

Jon

posted May 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm


I fell into a fortunate but unusual crack of the system when I went to college. I didn’t go until I was nearly 21 and I had made enough money the prior two years (and not been a dependent on my father’;s taxes) that I qaulified as an independent student, so my father’s income and assets were not counted against my financial aid. Additionally my father was retired and disabled while my step-mother was not my legal mother (they did not adopt each other’s kids) so her income would not have counted either. Result: a pretty much free ride on grants, at least as far as tuition went. I did work c. 30hrs a week for other money, but at a job (assistant manager at a family friend’s store) that allowed time for homework during slow periods.
Well, it worked for me, and I got through college with no debt and fairly low output of cash, mainly on books. But I do think we need to come up with a better way of funding college. The recent reform, which passed with the ACA, is a bare start: it at least sets up loan repayments that are pegged to the borrower’s income. But that’s just a humane stopgap. Something more radical is decidedly necessary.
Re: studies show that a good majority of people with college degrees earn more than blue collar
Largely because blue collar wages have collapsed, when such jobs can be found at all.



report abuse
 

MH

posted May 29, 2010 at 3:35 pm


Peterk, the laws of nature remain unchanged after 23 years. So what I learned is still relevant.



report abuse
 

stefanie

posted May 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm


Jon, just so you know – the “independent student” loophole is closing. I did the independent student thing too, and it got me some good financial aid. Today, however, young people under 24 *must* file a Federal student aid form (FAFSA) including their parent’s income, even if they have not seen or heard from their parents since their 18th birthday; even if they have been entirely self-supporting during that time and have not been claimed on their parents’ income taxes. No parental FAFSA, no student aid under age 24. (ref: http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/repaying.jsp)
From what I have heard, it is *highly* unusual for a student to get a financial aid officer to certify him for “extenuating circumstances;” usually those are such where contacting the parent would result in actual bodily harm to the student, or where the parent is in prison, something extreme like that. The parents simply refusing to provide FAFSA information is *not* considered “extenuating.”
This is another reason for the great 2000s’ proliferation of student loans.



report abuse
 

Lord Karth

posted May 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm


This is why I am encouraging both my daughters to avoid student-loan debt like the plague. If that means doing the community-college route for the first two years and then alternating working and classes to ensure that their debt level is minimized, and not graduating PRECISELY at 21 or 22, then so be it.
Lady Debt and her associate, Lady Compound Interest, after all, can be first-class b!tches. Best not to get caught up with them under ANY circumstances, especially not in this economy.
Your servant,
Lord Karth
Captcha: “joking could”. Lord Karth: “Joking not.”



report abuse
 

Lord Karth

posted May 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm


One more thing: if you have college-age kids, insist on their being in a program that will allow them to pick up a practical skill.
I see absolutely no reason for ANY student to even consider the notion of a degree in sociology, women’s/black/ethnic “studies” or anything remotely similar. Take a class or two in these areas if you absolutely must and if it gets your rocks off (I did one “just-for-fun” class each semester I was in college), but major in something that someone, someplace might actually want to hire you for doing.
And if you can’t think of anything like that to major in that you can stand—-you probably have no good business being in college anyway.
Like the young lady who was the subject of the NYT story.
Charles Murray once said something to the effect that we could cull maybe half of college students and suffer no harm as a country. Me, I say he’s wrong; make it two-thirds, and we’d probably be better off—all the Sociology and “Womens Studies” professors (and students !) would have to look for honest work befitting their capabilities. The street-sweeping, lawn-maintenance and fast-food industries would all benefit, I suspect.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



report abuse
 

Peter

posted May 29, 2010 at 4:40 pm


Lord Karth,
If your daughters are likely not going to go into the workforce because they are going to be SAH moms, would you advocate them not going to college at all?



report abuse
 

Cecelia

posted May 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm


Princeton got out of the student loan business in 2000 – the first school to do so. If one can get accepted – the University guarantees a financial package that does not include loans – only grants in aid etc – to get you through 4 years. Several other schools have since followed with this policy – which looks like a good thing to me.
Part of the concern re: debt is that kids who leave school will choose options that help them pay down debt – ignoring other types of jobs and experiences that would be beneficial for them (and the community). Hence eliminating loans at these Universities.
Let’s hope more follow.



report abuse
 

Tommy

posted May 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm


Sigh. Don’t you just hate people spouting off about blue collar vs white collar just like they can read? Pick up the almanac. Open to MEDIAN salaries, (no, sparky, the “few guys” making $200k won’t skewer the results like an average/mean), and READ it. $37,000 vs $47,000 is a pretty big gap. Add $13,000 more for a masters…
And few people actually work in their major, so THAT
bad major” argument bites the dust.
Finally, the business college is often called the “Bozo the Clown College” because it is completely devoid of research studies and based on parroting your prof. It is the major where you get textbooks ending with “… for Dummies.”
Let’s try basic math. If you make 33% more than Joe and pay 15% to repay student loans, who comes out ahead? (Of course you KEEP making more after the loan is paid off.)
PS: Blue collar jobs that pay well usually do because you have a great chance of crippling injury. Oh boy!



report abuse
 

Nixon is Lord

posted May 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm


The true criminals are departments like “Women’s Studies” and “Latino/a Studies” of “Film Studies” or “Communications” which have people encouraging state legislators to fund their programs and then encourage, or even mandate, their students to take their courses-and of course, then going on to say “Demand for our courses has never been higher.”
Then those who graduate with a degree in such subjects have to either a. Get into the “helping professions-and hope that there aren’t too many people with such degrees already competing for public-supported jobs or b. Get a PhD in that field and hope that there are enough spaces being opened up by lobbying for such departments at other universities to supply them with a job in their “field”.
What a racket! I would seriously consider unfunding all such departments and using the money for scholarships for those who are the first in their families to go to college-provided they’re planning on getting a degree in an actual subject, like pharmacy, nursing, accounting, pre-med or mathematics.



report abuse
 

Brian

posted May 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm


Stefanie,
I’m well aware of how much I will owe. However, I’m over 30 years old, have a wife, and am paying for a house. I couldn’t afford school without loans. I consider it a good investment since I’m getting really tired of working at Walmart and am ready to answer my call. Not all debt is bad and it is something I have to do. The real problem is the debt required by some to pursue a degree, but the core to that problem is how this country does (or doesn’t) fund education. Colorado is preparing to gut higher education. That’s really going to help draw jobs to my state.



report abuse
 

mdavid

posted May 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm


Some points:
1) Formal education is a waste of time and money. Give a motivated student a library and the internet, and that’s all he needs. Formal schooling is merely for the paper…what a scam.
2) As the economy deflates, more and more people will work part-time for themselves – they will fix their own cars, cook their own food from scratch, repair their own homes, cut their own hair, and sew to repair their own clothes. Probably worth $10k a year, tax free.
3) Points #1 and #2 above lend itself well to the SAHM who (as pointed out above) can save money by sidestepping formal schooling. Many a SAHM who reads and runs a home economy has a better education than formal students.
4) Homeschooling allows kids in many states to pick up a half a degree (or even a whole one) while still in high school. That’s money in the bank.
5) IQ has a lot to do with how relevant schooling is to someone. Anyone in the bottom half of the bell curve really should consider a trade of some sort; nothing wrong with that, and save themselves the expense and strain.
6) K-12 public school is another waste of cash as well. College has bankrupted many individuals too dumb to know better; union-driven public school is bankrupting many states as we speak. Both will have to be massively deflated.



report abuse
 

rr

posted May 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm


I’m a professor of History at a community college. I was able to go all the way through college and receive my Ph.D. without a cent of debt. As an undergraduate, I went to a state school, had a scholarship and worked part time and 40 hours a week at manual labor jobs during the summers. As a graduate student, I worked as a teaching assistant, which paid my tuition and gave me a stipend, which paid my living expenses, though I did live below the poverty level.
Obviously, the vast majority of young people don’t need a Ph.D. But many do want to go to college. However, unless a young person has wealthy parents or receives a good scholarship, there is absolutely no reason to attend an expensive school such as NYU. One can go to a community college and/or a four year state school and receive a good education without all the debt, which is toxic for someone in their early twenties. And one is as likely to end up with a decent middle class job with a degree from a state school as an expensive private one.
As for those on this thread who have asserted that only 5% of our population really needs to go to college or that college enrollments could be slashed by two-thirds without harm to the country, that is pure fantasy. The reality of our economy today and probably in the future is that one would be lucky to have a dead end job without a high school degree, while with only a high school degree one could actually aspire to land a dead end job. Most decent blue collar jobs, and the number of these is shrinking, require some sort of skill, which in turn means attending a technical school for a year or two after high school.
Not everyone should go to college or is cut out for college. But as long as we require most people in the medical field and legal profession, engineers, scientists, teachers, accountants, business, etc. then a fair percentage of the population will need a college degree. I don’t know about the rest of people here, but I want my doctor, lawyer, account and my child’s teacher to have a college degree. Otherwise, the number of people who major in things such as Women’s Studies (which I agree is a useless major) is actually quite small. Fields such as business, nursing and education are much more popular. Students today are much more pragmatic than in the 1960s and most want to major in something that will land them a job that pays well. That has actually been the case for several decades now.
rr



report abuse
 

dana

posted May 29, 2010 at 6:48 pm


I’d really like to know why college costs so much in the first place.
Most classes require nothing but a room, desks and a teacher. Some of the most expensive and prestigious schools have most of their classes taught by grad students, not world class scholars.
So what is costing $50k/yr??



report abuse
 

rr

posted May 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm


mdavid,
I disagree with much of what you wrote. Many employers (or rather ones with decent paying jobs) see a college degree as proof of a minimal level of intelligence, motivation, socialization and work ethic. They often use the lack of a college degree to weed out applicants. It doesn’t matter if said applicant has a high IQ and has spend a good deal of time at the library. One may wish things were different, but the fact is that they aren’t.
Again, there are ways to finish a college education without any or much debt. Attending a pricey college that will land one in huge debt is foolish because heavy debt is foolish and there are other options. But without either a college degree or some sort of skill (the type generally acquired at a technical school), ones’ economic prospects are grim. In this recession, those without skills have suffered the most. Surely that will continue to be the case if the economy heads further South.
rr



report abuse
 

mdavid

posted May 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm


rr, But as long as we require most people in the medical field and legal profession, engineers, scientists, teachers, accountants, business, etc. then a fair percentage of the population will need a college degree. I don’t know about the rest of people here, but I want my doctor, lawyer, account and my child’s teacher to have a college degree.
I completely disagree. In every one of those fields, one could design a series of tests that would a fine job of weeding out who is qualified and who is not. Also, these tests could be ongoing – if you wanted to practice in a field, you would have to test out every few years or so. A mini bar or qualifying exam every four years would be about right. This would get rid of all the crappy lawyers and docs out there who slip by with some degree thirty years ago and then rely upon this cred for the rest of their lives.
I’m an engineer (with degree), and getting professionally qualified in another branch of engineering (in which I don’t have a degree). My abilities are about the same for both, and a PE test easily demonstrates this.
College is a waste of time and money. I never learned a thing in school I couldn’t learn faster (and usually better) on my own using books or publications as needed. College is merely a scam used to extract cash from the working public.



report abuse
 

MH

posted May 29, 2010 at 7:12 pm


mdavid, I’m with RR on this one. There are fields that require acquisition of knowledge and proof of that knowledge. If you created a competency test you would likely wind up reinventing the wheel as test prep schools would open to teach people.



report abuse
 

michael

posted May 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm


Higher education in this country is an enormous scam; any public-interested government would intervene. A private college, 4 years, now costs, what, $200K for the 4 years? How long will most people take to pay that back? Even if the parents can pay, is the extra cost over a decent state college really worth the future earnings increase? Everyone needs to read this article.



report abuse
 

MH

posted May 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm


michael, knowledge is a non-depreciating asset, while money loses value to inflation over time. So paying $200K for the right knowledge could be a bargain over a forty year period.



report abuse
 

Indy

posted May 29, 2010 at 9:13 pm


College prepares you to be challenged intellectually and in person–which in most jobs, you will be. At work, people definitely won’t all hold your values, see things the way you do. On the job, you’ll have to prevail in your arguments or learn to accept that others prevailed over yours. It takes time to learn how to do that (some people never seem to learn to lose.) Your parents can’t teach you those skills. They know how to present their own values and perspectives, not how to effectively or fairly present those of people with whom they disagree. High school, with its mix of people who accept the need to be there and people who don’t want to be there, doesn’t really prepare you for that. Learning in a library or reading on your own doesn’t.
Pushback. Defeats. Victories. Reminders that you’re not alwayws going to prevail, that your ideas, tactics, strategies aren’t always the “right” ones, that sometimes others will. Listening to how others win and lose. Observing how people man up or don’t. If you get that in college, its easier to enter the workforce. If you have to learn it on the job, you may fall behind your peers or if you really mess it up, lose you job.



report abuse
 

rr

posted May 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm


quote: “College is a waste of time and money. I never learned a thing in school I couldn’t learn faster (and usually better) on my own using books or publications as needed. College is merely a scam used to extract cash from the working public.”
Well, perhaps you were a very mature, highly disciplined and exceptionally intelligent young person. Maybe college was a scam for you. But if this was the case, you were atypical. As someone who taught college at one capacity or the other at four different colleges in two different states for nearly a decade for now, I can tell you that the vast majority of recent high school graduates, those in their late teens and early twenties, neither have the knowledge to pass such tests, nor do they have the maturity and discipline to acquire it by themselves in independent study apart from a class.
To be blunt, substituting a series of equivalency tests for degrees is wildly unrealistic because those who could pass them would by far be the exception to the rule. And you don’t make policy based on what a tiny percentage of the population is able to accomplish. You can moan and groan about college being a scam all you want. But the reality is that the situation we have now in which one simply cannot (even legally in some cases) enter a number of professions without a college degree and many business will not even consider you for certain positions without one is not going to change in a million years. It’s just not going to happen. Period.
Thus, college really isn’t a scam for most people. It really does mean better jobs, higher pay over a lifetime and a better quality of life. Expensive private colleges….well that’s another story. College isn’t overrated, but expensive degrees are.
rr



report abuse
 

thehova

posted May 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm


There’s been a lot of cost/benefit research on this. The consensus is that college is mostly always worth it, even for humanity degrees. Graduate school is a more questionable investment.



report abuse
 

Don Altobello

posted May 29, 2010 at 11:10 pm


“Finally, the business college is often called the “Bozo the Clown College” because it is completely devoid of research studies and based on parroting your prof. It is the major where you get textbooks ending with “… for Dummies.””
You sure about that, Tommy? Sounds more like an LAS department to me. Parroting the professor was the name of the game if you were a political science major at my college. Personally, I would’ve loved to have seen just half the clowns in LAS get through a basic financial accounting course, much less one covering Intermediate Accounting or auditing standards.



report abuse
 

Erin Manning

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:08 am


Tommy, all due respect, but you did read the article Rod cites here, yes?
The median loan debt incurred by today’s college students is just under 23,000. Assuming a standard ten-year repayment period and the rate of interest for unsubsidized Stafford loans, the student will repay more than $31,000. Many students borrowed significantly more than this, of course, and are being hit particularly hard by the present economic realities for recent college grads.
In the meantime, wage stagnation, a bane of the blue-collar worker, has been slowly impacting the white-collar world since at least 2006; Joe Biden addressed this problem in April of this past year, but the current administration’s track record in re: jobs and wages is somewhat mixed. As of December of last year, the number of unemployed college graduates reached an all-time high in the 20 years or so these numbers have been tracked; and while people who graduated from college are *numerically* more likely to be working now, the rate of job loss of white-collar workers rose 92% between January 2008 and January 2009–and many of those jobs are of the “gone forever” variety.
The assumption you are operating from, and indeed, that many people are operating from, is that having a college degree always guaranteed more money and better employment in the past, and therefore having a college degree will always guarantee more money and better employment in the future. Today’s high school graduates have to decide to what extent they think that will continue to be true–and whether it’s worth incurring much debt, if any, in pursuit of a glorified rubber stamp that may or may not hold its value into the future.
[Captcha: dungeons hopes]



report abuse
 

J.K.

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:32 am


This is good, but not universally applicable, advice. Most colleges and universities are more similar than dissimilar. I agree with Dreher’s implication that Louisiana State and Georgetown likely offer very comparable journalism programs. (I once heard a joke that the reason Harvard and Yale hate each other so much is that they are nearly identical universities.)
But where this falls apart is the debate between these aforementioned schools—good schools for a lot of people, but not exactly all—and typically smaller, quirkier, residential liberal arts colleges wherein an environment of learning, as opposed to morbid careerism—bean counting—is fostered.
I think such colleges are worth spending money on. And I think this because I am not convinced that education itself always conforms to market forces. Sure, Dreher can go have gone to Georgetown. He likely would have learned the same basic things. (This is, after all, the purpose of accreditation.) Or he could have gone to any number of excellent, smaller colleges like Wabash or Grinnell or (for the really small) Deep Springs.
And maybe there it would have been clearer that the cheaper option is not always—as opposed to never—the best option for an individual’s education, which is very likely the only thing he will use for the rest of his life.



report abuse
 

Cecelia

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:52 am


I think the most important thing about choosing a college is the needs of that young person – some kids wither in the big state U’s but will thrive in a smaller school as one example.
It also is true that a student who seriously applies them self in high school will be able to get scholarships. I know NYU offers full free ride with weekly stipend for spending money to kids with great grades,SAT’s etc. as do other schools. These schools are competing for the best students – Hannah may not have to abandon her dreams.
But here is a hard reality – the school you go to may determine your job opportunities or ability to get into a grad/professional school. Consider as an example that accounting firms will pay accounting majors from top schools for their travel to the interview – so a senior say at an Ivy will spend a semester traveling about for free to do interviews. A kid from the local state college will look for a job on his/her own.



report abuse
 

Lord Karth

posted May 30, 2010 at 7:05 am


Peter @ 4:40 PM writes:
“If your daughters are likely not going to go into the workforce because they are going to be SAH moms, would you advocate them not going to college at all?”
I’m not making that assumption. It would be nice if they found men to marry who would be prepared to do that (as I did when I married my wife), but that’s not something I can anticipate. Quite the contrary, I am assuming that ALL my children (I have three younger boys as well) are going to be living in a high-inflation, tax-increasing, steadily-declining-standard-of-living world. Boomer retirements and public-sector pension contracts will see to that.
Therefore, I am advising them to seek out and find training that will allow them to acquire a practical skill of some sort. After that, they can follow it up with a degree. To be honest, I am assuming that it will take them 5-6 years, rather than the “standard” four, to do that.
But the key thing for them is to NOT HAVE UNNECESSARY DEBT. OF ANY SORT. To modify an old phrase, “In the Country of the Bankrupt, The Un-indebted Man Is King”.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



report abuse
 

Matthew

posted May 30, 2010 at 8:58 am


My question is will anyone really want to marry someone with this amount of debt?



report abuse
 

thehova

posted May 30, 2010 at 10:18 am


The problem is that high school education in this country is often subpar, while our college system is amazing (I attended a fancy private school that still didn’t compare to the basic reading and writing skills I learned in college).
I would warn posters on this thread, if you really do think college is a scam and you will advise your children to skip it, they will miss out on a world class education.
(of course, like all things, there is diminished returns….maybe NYU isn’t worth it)



report abuse
 

stefanie

posted May 30, 2010 at 11:31 am


Another cost-saving option which many people don’t consider is taking classes for college credit while still a high school student. This requires a motivated and disciplined student who has sufficient pre-requisites. However, given that, a student can rack up quite a bit of credits at extremely low cost (free in some states, up to about $50 a credit hour in others.) Some examples are classes like calculus, college physics, the final 3rd and 4th years of foreign language, college composition, college algebra, and liberal arts general-education requirements like art history.
Also, high schools which don’t offer all of these classes “in house” can increasingly direct students to online for-credit classes run by the state universities.
It really is possible to get at least a year of college accomplished for very low cost while still in high school. Homeschoolers have it even better if they have the pre-reqs (and most do); most states allow students to take community college classes at 16 (and a few even younger.) The homeschooled student can take the first two years of college or even more, again, for free (in some states) or pretty low cost in others.
Thus, college really isn’t a scam for most people. It really does mean better jobs, higher pay over a lifetime and a better quality of life. Expensive private colleges….well that’s another story. College isn’t overrated, but expensive degrees are.
I *totally* agree. People often seek status in expensive private universities. Going deeply into debt for status is often foolish.
Captcha funnies: I don’t know who dalzell is, but he approves.



report abuse
 

Andrea

posted May 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm


I was fortunate enough to get scholarships and to have parents and other relatives who helped me get through college without any loans. I went to the state university and graduated with a might as well be useless English degree. These days you need a master’s to do anything and I’m going to have to seriously look at master’s programs, even though I’m extremely hesitant to take on loans at this point in my life without a guarantee that I’ll earn enough to pay them back. I have accumulated enough other debt to worry about. I wish I had studied something useful and gone into anything other than journalism but the world doesn’t look the same when you’re 20. At that age I talked seriously about “selling out” and looked down on people who only cared about making money. It’s pure foolishness to go $100,000 into debt or even $40,000 into debt for a liberal arts degree.



report abuse
 

rr

posted May 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm


quote: “It really is possible to get at least a year of college accomplished for very low cost while still in high school. Homeschoolers have it even better if they have the pre-reqs (and most do); most states allow students to take community college classes at 16 (and a few even younger.) The homeschooled student can take the first two years of college or even more, again, for free (in some states) or pretty low cost in others.” This is an excellent point. I’ve taught several high school students at my community college. Most of these students were intelligent, mature, motivated high school seniors. They were ready for college as seniors and were able to get quite a few hours of college credit under their belts at my community college before they graduated high school and moved on to a four year school. There are many, many ways to cut back on the expenses of college and receive a college education with little or no debt. Really, there is no reason to go into massive debt for a college degree. There are cheaper schools, scholarships and the military. There was a question earlier in this thread about why college is so expensive these days. It is certainly a valid one that deserves a response. From my experience, several things have driven up the cost of college. First, in the last 10-15 years many colleges and universities have built a number of new buildings such as student centers, gyms, and nice dorms that are the equivalent of private apartment suites. College presidents these days often see building projects as a way to enhance their reputations (and often move up to another college) and attract students. However, they are very expensive. Another thing that has driven up the cost of a college education, as with the cost of medicine, is technology. Colleges are expected to have the latest and greatest internet service and computer labs. This is also quite expensive and requires frequently buying dozens of new computers. I would also argue that elite private schools such as the Iveys have purposely overinflated the cost of tuition because frankly they can afford to do so. The “demand” for their product (admission to their school) is so great that can charge 50k a year. After all, they know good and well that people will pay it, especially the very wealthy. However, once a significant number of people who aren’t so wealthy began to realize that their degrees are overpriced and began to pursue other options for a college degree such as state universities or cheaper private school, the elite schools may be forced to cut their tuition. Of course, that is IF people wise up. Finally, a bit about salaries. While salaries for faculty and staff are often the biggest item on any college’s budget, salaries largely aren’t driving the increase in costs. In the last 20 years or so colleges have increasingly cut the number of tenure and tenure-track positions in favor of cheap labor, primarily graduate students and adjuncts, which in many cases comprise the majority of their instructors today. With the exception of research one institutions, most faculty members, including those who have been teaching for over twenty years, make between 40-70k a year. Some faculty members, and this includes me, would actually make more at their degree level if they left college to teach high school. I generally put in 50 hours a week and unlike high school teachers teach and work summers. I teach college because I love teaching and don’t have to put up with the crap that high school teachers do. The hours are long, but they working conditions are excellent, which is why so many people want to teach college and we often receive 50 or more applicants at my community college for a tenure-track position. But people don’t teach college because they will get rich doing so.
RR



report abuse
 

rr

posted May 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm


quote: “It really is possible to get at least a year of college accomplished for very low cost while still in high school. Homeschoolers have it even better if they have the pre-reqs (and most do); most states allow students to take community college classes at 16 (and a few even younger.) The homeschooled student can take the first two years of college or even more, again, for free (in some states) or pretty low cost in others.”
This is an excellent point. I’ve taught several high school students at my community college. Most of these students were intelligent, mature, motivated high school seniors. They were ready for college as seniors and were able to get quite a few hours of college credit under their belts at my community college before they graduated high school and moved on to a four year school. There are many, many ways to cut back on the expenses of college and receive a college education with little or no debt. Really, there is no reason to go into massive debt for a college degree. There are cheaper schools, scholarships and the military.
There was a question earlier in this thread about why college is so expensive these days. It is certainly a valid one that deserves a response. From my experience, several things have driven up the cost of college. First, in the last 10-15 years many colleges and universities have built a number of new buildings such as student centers, gyms, and nice dorms that are the equivalent of private apartment suites. College presidents these days often see building projects as a way to enhance their reputations (and often move up to another college) and attract students. However, they are very expensive. Another thing that has driven up the cost of a college education, as with the cost of medicine, is technology. Colleges are expected to have the latest and greatest internet service and computer labs. This is also quite expensive and requires frequently buying dozens of new computers.
I would also argue that elite private schools such as the Iveys have purposely overinflated the cost of tuition because frankly they can afford to do so. The “demand” for their product (admission to their school) is so great that can charge 50k a year. After all, they know good and well that people will pay it, especially the very wealthy. However, once a significant number of people who aren’t so wealthy began to realize that their degrees are overpriced and began to pursue other options for a college degree such as state universities or cheaper private school, the elite schools may be forced to cut their tuition. Of course, that is IF people wise up.
Finally, a bit about salaries. While salaries for faculty and staff are often the biggest item on any college’s budget, salaries largely aren’t driving the increase in costs. In the last 20 years or so colleges have increasingly cut the number of tenure and tenure-track positions in favor of cheap labor, primarily graduate students and adjuncts, which in many cases comprise the majority of their instructors today. With the exception of research one institutions, most faculty members, including those who have been teaching for over twenty years, make between 40-70k a year. Some faculty members, and this includes me, would actually make more at their degree level if they left college to teach high school. I generally put in 50 hours a week and unlike high school teachers teach and work summers. I teach college because I love teaching and don’t have to put up with the crap that high school teachers do. The hours are long, but they working conditions are excellent, which is why so many people want to teach college and we often receive 50 or more applicants at my community college for a tenure-track position. But people don’t teach college because they will get rich doing so.
RR
P.S. I apologize for double posting, but somehow my previous post wasn’t broken into paragraphs and is probably difficult to read.



report abuse
 

Jon

posted May 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm


Re: If your daughters are likely not going to go into the workforce because they are going to be SAH moms, would you advocate them not going to college at all?
A woman whould still have education and something to fall back on. Even if they think they will never get divorced under any circumstanes, husbands do still die, as my step-mom found out when her first husband was killed in a traffic accident leaving her (as she said) as “just a dumb housewife” with no options apart from ill-paid retail.
Re: wage stagnation, a bane of the blue-collar worker, has been slowly impacting the white-collar world since at least 2006
Given that the economy has been in recesson during most of that era that’s hardly surprising and I think it’s way too soon to describe a lasting trend.
Re: they will fix their own cars, cook their own food from scratch, repair their own homes, cut their own hair, and sew to repair their own clothes.
But it’s getting a lot harder to do some of thsoe things. Cars especially are so complex these days that the days of the backyard mechanic are well and truly over with. As for cutting one’s own hair– rather hard to do, no? Besides a hair cut can be had for under $20, hardly as exorbitant as auto repairs. Moreover a deflationary economy, by defintion, means falling prices.



report abuse
 

California teacher

posted May 30, 2010 at 7:39 pm


Why should college cost any more than high school? In California, the typical high school receives in the neighborhood of $6,000/student. That should roughly be the cost of a year’s college tuition. It shouldn’t cost more to teach college English, for example, than advanced placement high school English. Prices in college are higher because colleges waste money. The professors teach too few classes/week. They could teach 5 classes/day 5days/week just like high school teachers do (who also have to deal with discipline problems and parents.) Cut out those committees that eat up professorial time. If the professors want to publish, let them do it on their own time. Very expensive majors–like physics–need to be supplemented by grants. Let the physics majors, who will earn more than the English majors, pay the cost of their labs. Why should the English majors be saddled with long term debt to finance physics labs?



report abuse
 

MH

posted May 30, 2010 at 8:39 pm


California teacher, the hard sciences probably more than pay their own way. Many universities get patents out of the hard science research which they license to industry.



report abuse
 

rr

posted May 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm


California teacher,
First, college and high school aren’t the same, nor should they be as they serve different purposes. Second, high schools in this country are terrible. And California is one of the worst states in the nation. We have some of the best colleges and universities in the world. You can complain about colleges wasting money, and there is some of that. But at least colleges do a good job educating their students. There is no reason why colleges should copy high schools when high schools already do such a poor job of educating students. Obviously, high schools take students from the general public, which automatically lowers the quality of their student bodies and forces them to deal with problems that colleges simply don’t. However, the idea that colleges should follow the lead of high schools on pretty much anything strikes me as ridiculous.
Also, with the exception of research universities and elite private schools, many professors do teach quite a bit. Professors at community colleges such as myself teach five courses a semester (5/5 teaching load) and often teach summer courses. I taught high school before I went back for my doctorate and I’ll daresay that I teach more and earn less as a college professor than I did or would today in high school. But I have a lot more fun. I am free to teach as I see best, have brighter students, don’t have to do any hand holding and simply fail the ones who won’t do the work. I also don’t have to deal with discipline problems and legally am forbidden from speaking with parents, which is great. Oh, teaching loads are lighter at four year schools, but many professors at four year state schools still teach four classes each semester (4/4 load) as well as a class or two during the summer. By comparison, high school teachers, who don’t even do research, generally get summers off.
As for committee work, if the college didn’t have professors do committee work such as serve on search committees for open faculty position, they would be forced to hire more administrators to do the work. Professors have the experience and are cheap labor in comparison to hiring more administrators. Finally, research in all fields is necessary. After all, research and scholarship is one of the purposes of higher education and what goes on in research does affect how disciplines are taught, and in the case of science and medicine is important for all our lives.
RR



report abuse
 

MH

posted May 30, 2010 at 9:28 pm


rr, its good to be on the same side of an issue with you. We’re usually on the opposite sides although civilly disagreeing.



report abuse
 

Maria

posted May 30, 2010 at 11:13 pm


About a decade ago (my, time does fly), I was one of the high school students taking courses at community college. I was able to graduate with an associate’s arts degree – for free!- one week before I graduated from high school. However, I still qualified as a graduating high school senior and could apply for all the regular scholarships. This allowed me to go to the small private university I wanted to go to without going into debt.
Personally, I think the education system as a whole would be vastly improved if we simply did away with the last two years of high school. During sophomore year most students have already decided if they are on the vocational school or prep school track. Instead of wasting two years taking AP courses, just have students take actual college courses close to home at community colleges. The vocational students can get some business writing and personal finance classes along with the vocational training, instead of reading English poetry and failing Algebra II.
I think it serves both the students and the state to purse a shortened high school course. The students can stop being treated like they are simply being babysat for two more years in high school, and instead start working towards their goals. Also, many students are now facing the necessity of getting post-graduate degrees, resulting in not actually leaving school until their late twenties. A two year head start would definitely help their total earning potential. The state also saves money in several ways. Instead of paying for both two years of public schooling and then footing the bill for college grants and tax credits for an additional two to four years, the state could just consolidate that money and offer two years of state college education or vocational training. Additionally, the students will be graudating younger, which means they begin paying taxes at a younger age. Well, assuming there are jobs available.



report abuse
 

The Sicilian Woman

posted May 31, 2010 at 1:17 am


Matthew,
Yes, there are people who will marry someone with massive debt. My nephew, who will have about $100K when he’s done with his master’s next spring, just became engaged. His fiancee is in the same master’s program and also expects to graduate next spring. I do not know what her debt load is.
I think anyone considering marriage to a debt-laden individual must consider the harsh realities of carrying that burden, as well as the marital laws of his/her state, should the sad event of divorce happen. Depending state law, debt can become the burden at divorce of the person who came into the marriage without the debt. (Here in CA, you are responsible only for the debt – “community” debt – accumulated from the date of your marriage to the date of separation, no matter who racked it up. Same for community assets.. At divorce, debts and assets accumulated during that period are split 50/50 by law, unless the spouses agree in writing to some other arrangement.)
Also, if I am correct, bankruptcy won’t erase your student loans if they are federally-backed. The son and daughter-in-law of family friends found that out the hard way.
I am quite concerned about my nephew even THINKING about getting married for several years, until he’s had a job and has been able to pay down some of his debt. Starting life out with another person, and her debt, whatever that might be, and her little boy, and $100K to pay back? Not a good idea. I hope I am proven wrong. They’re not setting a date until they’ve both finished school and found jobs, but still, that kind of financial pressure can be debilitating.
Now, my nephew could have saved himself, I’m guessing, between $20K-$40K of that debt if he’d gone to a community college for the first two years. But, being an elitest (a trait unfortunately fostered by his father), he wasn’t going to the local community college. He insisted on going to his particular school for a particular program, which, unlike many other programs, started major coursework in the freshman and sophomore years, so he would have been left behind if he started out in community college.
It didn’t matter in the end. Why? Because he changed majors, TWICE, costing him an extra $emester. THEN he decided he wanted to get a master’s in a completely different field – science. Problem was that he couldn’t get into a program for that because his undergrad degree had minimal science courses. So, he’s just completed another 1.5 years for an undergrad degree in science, for a total of two full years that he should not have needed if he’d slummed it and gone to community college for a couple of years at substantial savings before he figured out what he really wanted to do.
Thankfully, his younger brother didn’t have the elitest attitude and happily attended the community college for a couple of years before transferring to a private institution (which he now regrets – ya win some, ya lose some) for his last two years. But at least he saved some money on those first two years.
I agree with Lord Karth – if you have to work your way through college to do so with as little debt as possible, and if it takes you longer than the 4 years to complete your degree, then do it.
captcha: said bated



report abuse
 

thehova

posted May 31, 2010 at 5:10 am


California teacher does have an interesting point. For grad school, it costs more to go to law school than get a masters in education on a yearly basis.
So why not charge more for an economics major (the professors are really expensive) than an English major?



report abuse
 

Marian

posted May 31, 2010 at 8:22 pm


“I’d really like to know why college costs so much in the first place.
“Most classes require nothing but a room, desks and a teacher. Some of the most expensive and prestigious schools have most of their classes taught by grad students, not world class scholars.
“So what is costing $50k/yr??”
One of the state-affiliated colleges I have taught at permits anybody to “audit” courses at $5 a shot (or used to,anyway.) That includes, if one is so inclined, doing the work, handing in papers and exams and getting graded, and (for a slight extra fee) doing the labs. If you do the math you will discover that it is possible to obtain the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree for the price of a pretty crummy used car. So what is the extra money for degree students for? THE CREDENTIAL, silly. It is in general better to have the credential without the knowledge than vice versa, in most of the job market.



report abuse
 

AnotherBeliever

posted June 1, 2010 at 12:54 am


I am fortunate in that my rich Uncle Sam repaid my Federal student loans in exchange for military service. Since I served six years in the Army, they not only repaid all of my undergrad student loans, but also gave me to the Post 9/11 GI Bill on my way out the door. I just finished a year-long graduate certificate and I’m now weighing whether to fold that into related Master’s degree or to begin a new Master’s program in another field. Regardless, it will be next to free.
The military’s a good place to start if you qualify for it. You can earn enough education benefits to get a degree or two debt free, and you can also get relevant professional experience if you choose your specialty wisely. I might even suggest it to Cortney Munna. They will only repay Federal loans, of course, but the military pays even its enlisted guys more than she’s currently making, and single junior enlisted get free housing and health care and three meals a day. She could start to address the rest of her debt while she served.



report abuse
 

Jonathan

posted June 1, 2010 at 9:53 pm


Seriously? This woman goes to a $50k/year school without looking at how much she could expect to earn with her Women’s Studies degree. This is a bit like buying a bike and complaining about the lack of cargo capacity and a moon roof. C’mon, lady. NYU creates an offering and they assign the price that the market will bear. She was free to attend this university or SUNY. She chose NYU. Now, she expects to not have to pay for the debt that she assumed. She wasn’t complaining about the price tag when she was receiving a government-backed student loan. Apparently, they don’t teach accountability in Women’s Studies.



report abuse
 

alexh

posted June 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm


i do not feel sorry for her. first off, what do you expect going to NYU, you are going to a private school where they are notorious for high fees. In addition, you decide to move to one of the most expensive cities if not the most expensive city in the whole world. in addition I believe this girl is from CA, wasn’t the UC schools good enough for you? i mean if you had the grades to go to NYU then why couldn’t you get into berkeley or UCLA? you could have gotten the same level of education for significantly less. I mean come on, this is ridiculous



report abuse
 

joe

posted June 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm


Really, it’s a question ‘who is to blame’ here? She went to an absurdly expensive University, to get a degree in religious and women’s studies, borrowed about $100,000 to do that, and promptly moved to San Francisco, the most expensive city in the US? This idiot is a parade of very bad decisions. A college degree is a tool you invest in so you can use it to generate a better income for yourself in the job market. Indulging one’s self by blowing 100 grand on a degree in religious and women’s studies, living in San Francisco, is stupid. I borrowed a ton on student loans to get through law school – but I got a degree in a field I could find work in, not some idiotic religious and women’s studies. I also immediately went to work for a huge firm in NYC, worked 7 days a week, 100 hours a week, for 4 years, lived in flatbush in an apartment with no windows, roaches, and shared it with 2 roommates. I paid my loans off myself, by getting a job in my field, working my ass off, and putting every cent towards paying off the loans – not farting around in San Francisco as a photographer’s assistant. What was she thinking when she decided to borrow all that money to get a degree in a field she had no chance to find a job in? What do you do with that degree? She is a self absorbed moron, and deserves to spend the rest of her life paying off that debt.



report abuse
 

Farud

posted June 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm


The problem with these students is they like to study totally irrelevant subjects such as Sociology, philosophy, criminology when all they need is for instance a marketing diploma… This is blamed to the Universities who make you have to take tons of courses that have nothing to do with your major e.g. accounting, marketing, computer science…. No wonder student loan debts are so high.
Students don’t be discouraged, there are lots of federal grants that help students pay for school. Go here http://www.collegescholarships.org/grants/federal.htm
Read an example of one student. Applebaum, who graduated from Fordham Law School in 1998, took a job as an attorney at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office after graduation, at a starting salary of $36,000 a year. His salary was so low that he put his loans in forbearance for five years, until they ballooned to $100,000. “Despite having a law degree, I’m middle class and I don’t have any money at all,” he says. “I don’t own a house or a car. My only assets are my couch and television.”
Applebaum is one of thousands of graduates struggling with the repercussions of student loans years after graduation.
Source: http://www.debtconsolidationblog.net
There were nearly $131 billion in outstanding private loans in 2008, according to Mark Kantrowitz, founder of FinAid.org, which tracks the college financial aid industry. In addition, there is $544 billion in outstanding federal loans for fiscal year 2009, up from $502 billion in 2008, according to the Education Dept.



report abuse
 

RoadOutOfDebt

posted May 27, 2011 at 9:09 am


Even if student debt is seen as good debt, I think we should stop and analyze the facts. Two-thirds of student are in debt, the employment opportunities are lower than before the crisis, bankruptcy does not get you rid of student debt. When it comes to good debt versus bad debt, the bottom line these days is simple: all debt is bad if you can’t pay it off.



report abuse
 

Micheal Ruffner

posted January 14, 2014 at 8:41 am


Howdy i go through your website frequently and imagined i’d say the many best for 2010!



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done to your na-nas? Doc has just the solution: Doctors say

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.