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Update [2005-7-6 12:2:0 by Armando]:From the diaries by Armando.

For the last few days, I have focused on the problems with college financing.  As with the health series I did a few weeks ago, education is a classic "kitchen-table" issue.  Education expenses do not have the pizzazz of the DSM or the Rove/Plame leak.  There is no intrigue, no dastardly plots, no conspiracy.  This is just a plain vanilla issue that directly affects people's lives and standard of living.  The average middle class person wants their children to have a better life and wants that better life within reach. As with healthcare, if the Dems help to solve this problem, we will gain voters.  Therefore, it is an issue the Dems should push front and center to their agenda.

None of this work is copyrighted and all of the references are marked.  All of the information is available on the net.  Please cut and paste for whatever purposes you have in mind.

First, why is education so important?  A report titled The Investment Payoff by the Institute for Higher Education Policy makes a strong case for the benefits of a college education.  First, college graduates have a higher average income and a lower rate of unemployment.  In March 2004, the average income for a college-educated person over 25 years old was $48,417, $23,000 more than the same person with a high-school diploma.  For the same month in 2004, 6% of 25 year olds without a college degree were unemployed, compared with 3% for those with a college degree.  (Those liberal colleges have such a negative effect on students)

In addition, college graduates are more likely to be involved in public activities.  36% of college graduates volunteered compared with 21% of high-school graduates.  56% of high-school graduates voted compared with 71% of college graduates.  (Those liberal colleges are just polluting students minds, aren't they?)

Finally, a college education dramatically increases the possibility of self-reliance and self- sufficiency. 1% of people with a high-school only degree received public assistance, compared with .5% for people with a college degree.  In other words, a college degree is a good way to get off and stay off the welfare roles.

Boy, it sounds like states should be doing everything they can to promote college education.  It increases average income which increases tax revenue, decreases unemployment and state assistance and increases participation in public life.  Regrettably, the last 15 years demonstrate states are contributing less and less to their respective educational systems, instead passing the burden onto students after graduation.

Between 1988 and 1998, the average annual state-sponsored school tuition increase was 4.1%.  Over the same period, state appropriations -- which comprise 33.4% of total state school revenues -- decreased 1% annually.  As a result, tuition as a percentage of total state school revenue increased from 22.7% to 31.1% from 1988 - 1998.  In other words, the cost of state education is falling more and more on students as opposed to the state governments.

Since 1998, college tuition costs have continued escalating out of control, making college a less affordable proposition for students.  The year-over-year percent increases for 2001-2005 were 7.1%, 9.7%, 13.9% and 10.6%, respectively.  Over this same time, state appropriation increased at a 4.6% between 2001-2002, decreased 1%, and 2.3% between 2003-2003 and 2003-2004 and increased 3.8% between 2004-2005.  Finally, average inflation adjusted wages according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics grew .42%, 1.52%, -.59% and-.31% respectively for 2001-2004.  In other words, the trend established in the late 1980s and early 1990s of decreasing state funding and increasing tuition to pay for state schools has continued.  States have increasingly passed the cost of higher education onto student's backs.

As a result of states decreasing their contributions to their respective state systems, families are less able to afford a college education and students are more burdened with post-graduation debt.  According to the Education Commission of the States:

4-year college tuition consumes 28.5% of family income.  That's a hefty number which would effectively bankrupt a family.  It also indicates that families should save for tuition to help deal with the expense.  However, the national savings rate is at an all-time low, indicating families are not saving.  The cause of this low savings rate is topic for another discussion.  However, for whatever reason, people are not saving.

While the average cost of college tuition rose by 110% between 1981 and 2001, median family income rose by only 27% during that period. (The College Board, Trends in College Pricing, 2001)

College tuition increased 5 times faster than average income over a 20-year period. That is a hefty increase.  It indicates that college is slowly becoming more and more difficult for the median income family to afford.  As a result, their children have to borrow more of the their tuition.

A report titled The Burden of Borrowing by the State PIRG's Higher Education Project observes that while 42% of students graduated with debt in 1992-1993, 64% graduated with debt in 1999-2000.  In addition, the number of students who graduated with over $20,000 increased from 5% in 1992-1993 to 33% in 1999-2000.  

So, a larger number of students are forced to borrow for educational purposes and a larger percentage of graduates has a higher amount of total debt on graduation.

A 2003 Nellie Mae report titled College on Credit, documented that the average amount of debt in 2002 for an undergraduate degree was $18,900 while the median amount was $16,500.  Payments on these figures comprised an average of 9% of after-college income and a median of 6% of after-college income.  

Graduate school loans are a larger burden.  The average total debt was $91,000 for law and medical students, and their payment comprised 18% of their income.  The average debt for business degrees was $39,500 and their payments comprised 8% of income.  The same numbers for education degrees was $32,200 and 11% respectively.    

Let's look at these figures from an everyday perspective.  Suppose you already have $40,000 of debt.  Would you be more or less likely to make an additional debt-financed purchase such as a house?  How about this: you get married and have a child.  18% of your income is already paying your student loans.  What is the likelihood of you starting to save for your child's education when he is born?  Even when we look at professions whose payments comprise a lower percentage of their respective income, the answer to the same questions is still probably the same.  I think we have a partial answer to why the national savings rate is so low.

In summation,

1.) A college education clearly benefits society by increasing personal income, decreasing unemployment and increasing public spirit.  However,  

2.) As states have decreased their funding of state university systems they have

3.) Increased tuition making college payments unaffordable for the average American family.  Instead,

4.) College graduates are increasing their use of debt financing, which

5.) Hinders their ability to move up the socio-economic ladder after graduation.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:02 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  All of which (4.00)
    has clear implications for this country's future, or lack thereof, as a world leader in technology and knowledge management. It isn't looking too good for a future of industrial manufacturing enterprise either.

    Has anyone alerted Rick Santorum (R-50's Sitcom) to the economic realities facing the one-earner family trying to get kids through college?

    The sleep of reason produces monsters. Francisco Goya

    by Dire Radiant on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 07:43:49 AM PDT

  •  Nicely Done (4.00)
    What I find very distubing are states that use lotteries to fund scholarship programs. Many of these states actually make the issue worse, because the money takes money out of the state's general funds that would fund the state side of the tuition. So even though the state is giving a "scholarship" to the student, he/she has to pay more to go.

    Simply put -
    If it costs $8,000 to attend State U. The state subsidizes $4,000 of it with taxpayer money. The student is on the hook for $4,000. He gets a lottery scholarship for $2,000. So he has to come up with the other $2,000. But with a lottery, the state losses general funds because most states do not apply sales tax to lottery sales. So the following year, it may cost $8,200 to attend State U., the state may contribute the $4,000 subsidy, or they may have to cut it because less money is coming in. The student still gets the $2,000 scholarship (if they kept their grades up), by now they may be responsible for more that $2,000 - because the state can not keep up.

    My 2 cents for the day.

    "It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity" - Kofi Annan

    by theglobalizer on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 07:43:57 AM PDT

  •  Just to stir the pot. (4.00)
    The way we currently fund higher education provides very large government subsidies to often quite affluent families.  The family of a median student a CU-Boulder or Miami University of Ohio, both public universities which receive thousands and thousands of dollars per student in state support, is in the ballpark of $100,000+.

    Certainly, there are people who need government assistance to be able to afford to go to college and that is a good idea.  But, are across the board subsidies based on, of all things, state of residence, really the best approach?

    Likewise, while there are people who aren't going to college and should be enabled in doing so, the United States has a higher percentage of college graduates in its population than Japan or almost any country in Europe, and it has about twice as many people who attend college but don't graduate.  About 40%+ of Americans attend college.

    The simple fact is that college is not the right choice for everyone, and that a significant share of the benefits of a college education are a garbage in, garbage out phenomena.  If you took the entering class at Yale, and had them do something other than getting a college education, they would still be far more successful by any measure than the general population.  College is, in part, a sorting phenomena.  We send our best and brightest young people there and, not surprisingly, they do better than those who do not attend college.

    Our nation's big failing isn't a weak higher education sector.  Until 9-11, at least, one of our nation's biggest "exports" was higher education delivered to foreign students.  What our nation does poorly, far less well than the vast majority of our competitors in the developed world in Asia and Europe, is to prepare the 60% of people who never go to college and the 20% of people who don't graduate to live happy, enriched, productive lives.

    When I lived in New Zealand for a year, few students attended college than in the United States and far fewer students graduated from high school.  But, there were also plenty of people with tenth grade educations who recently left school who were capable of doing jobs like bookkeeping, construction project cost estimating, and lower level management jobs, that are often filled by college graduates in the United States.  This was once the case in the United States as well.  You could be an elementary school teacher or a newspaper reporter without going to college, for instance.  Today, in the United States in contrast, high school dropouts leave almost exclusively because they are disruptive boys or pregnant girls, and in the case of the boys, they are often nearly illiterate as well.

    While I don't favor tracking students at age 11, as Britain once did so rigidly and still does to some extent, I do think that the key to addressing our nation's educational needs is to improve the quality of K-12 education for the non-college bound, while largely leaving the content of higher education alone and redirecting existing funds more effectively to the people who need those funds the most.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 07:44:44 AM PDT

    •  schooling (none)
      My grandfather was able to take a high school education and become a production engineer at GE, where he worked for 30 years. He made a good living, supporting his wife and three daughters on his income alone. It seems like that way of life is just gone. I think the question you are are getting at is: What if students left high school already prepared to work in moderate to high-skill jobs? Solving that particular issue would be an order of magnitude more difficult than figuring out college affordability.


      •  Everyone knows... (none)
        ...that a college degree is needed to get most jobs that can pay a decent wage and benefits in this economy. You're right, that way of life is gone. It's unfortunate, too, because it means that the overall quality of the jobs available to a diversely-educated workforce is low or unbalanced.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

        by eugene on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:42:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It is a matter of supply and demand (none)
      The supply of college educated students is higher in this country than in some.  Thus, the qualifications of persons for certain positions rises as well.  If you can choose between a college grad, a high school grad and a high-school dropout, you will take the highest, resulting in "qualifications inflation"
      •  This is certainly the case. (none)
        But, the hard question, is wehther the college education is actually adding value at the margins.

        There is no doubt that there are some things you can do only with a college education or the equivalent.  You can't get a job translating the Bible from the original Latin, Greek and Arhamaic with a high school diploma.

        But, have we done, for example, a marketing major who barely graduates from an unprestigious college with a 2.0 GPA any favors by giving that person four years in school at great expense to somebody, rather than four years of on the job experience?

        Just because we have a larger percentage of college graduates than say France, does not imply that we have a better skilled bunch of 25 year olds.  And, if we don't, then we are spending a great deal of time and effort on an enterprise that may provide little benefit personal or practical to the student.  A high school transcript and set of SAT scores provided to an employer couldn't have the done the sorting function just as well.

        Of course, it is entirely possible that someone who might be only a capable high school graduate in France, but a below average college student in the United States, is much better off personally and practically at age 25, in which case college is a good thing.  But, the mere fact that college graduates do better on average than non-college graduates doesn't itself prove that.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

        by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:05:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Training or education (none)
          Maybe the economics don't look too good for the mythical marketing major with a 2.0 GPA, but that's an issue of vocational training. There are benefits both to society and the individual from education, and they're not easily measured by GPA, major, or future economic performance.

          Further in either a free market or a free society, we don't get to second-guess people's choices - we try instead to provide equality of opportunity.

          We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

          by badger on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:38:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As a professor (none)
            I can say with some confidence that somebody graduating with a 2.0 GPA got very little out of his coursework.  He may have gotten a good education in drinking and partying, but he barely received a buzz high from his professors.

            And, value added does matter from a public policy perspective.  Society spends a lot of money on higher education, but it is also finite.  Students, appropriate, usually pay only a portion of their educational costs.  They pay a quite small portion in state colleges and receive some assistance, through loan subsidies, even at private colleges.  It is entirely appropriate to ask if an enterprise is worthwhile when society is footing the bill.

            I agree that education has both vocational and non-vocational benefits.  But, students who barely scrape through are receiving only a hollow credential that didn't add any value besides serving a sorting function.

            There is a legitimate reason to argue that these decisions should be made within educational institutions, rather than from the outside.  But, if good data shows that marketing majors have no value added, or that a student with a 2.0 GPA hasn't learned anything of value, than maybe the marketing department should go, and maybe the GPA standards should increase.

            If the public is going to pay $25,000 or more per student, it is reasonable in expecting that this will be made available for programs that are actually worthwhile.

            "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

            by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:54:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  But that equality of opportunity... (none)
            ...doesn't exist. There is practically no vocational training avaliable in the United States.
      •  It doesn't stop there (none)
        Back shortly after I finished my MFA (a terminal Masters), I jumped into the (extremely oversaturated) job market. Most academic positions had at least 100 Ph.D. applicants (my favorite rejection letter started After reviewing the 450 applications for this position...). Qualification inflation has crept all the way up the org chart.

        School ranking has also spiraled out of control. FYI, never hire a Harvard MBA. I've worked with three now (none lasting more than 12 months), and they all had two traits in common: 1) they're idiots, 2) their interpersonal skills ranged between extremely poor and nonexistent.

        "I don't bear a grudge. I have no surviving enemies."

        by usagi on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:03:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Problems (4.00)
      I did lousy in high school. I hated it. I now have an MS in engineering and a very successful career. I had to work my ass off to get it. Because I had lousy grades in HS and because I was poor, I found constant road blocks put in front of me. Literally sometimes just cause someone thought it was their duty to keep me out of college.

      College shouldn't be reserved for those who are our "brighest". It's hard given our current system to determine who is the "Brightist". A lot of the time, it isn't just about being intelligent but also about having a good supportive homelife.

      A large number of kids are disruptive in school not because they're stupid but because they're bored or don't have the supportive home life necessary to look forward in life. When you're worrying about eating, finding love when your parents don't love you, or being shot, it's kind of hard to focus on school.

      College should be available to everyone. Those who fail, fail. But removing those who don't seem to be worth it is wrong. We do ourselves injustice by doing this. How many brilliant people will we never know about because they grew up poor or in a tremendously dysfunctional home?

      Placing students in non college bound tracks, call it what it is, is tracking. I never would have gone to college if they did this. I wouldn't have been allowed. That's complete BS. I tended to be in the top 10% of my classes. My brother dropped out of HS but now has an MS in music from NYU with a BA from Berklee College of Music. He's a brilliant musician. Should we have prevented him from going to college cause he dropped out of HS?

      Tracking is wrong and it doesn't work. If society placed the importance on education that it should, there'd be enough money to let everyone try.

      •  I'm somewhat sympathetic with this point (none)
        I think the point that a lot of college education is simply very expensive 'sorting', with little direct impact on the productivity (both economic and in terms of life-growth) of the persons who take it.  The case for streaming -- conmbined of course with first-class education for those streamed into the non-college track) is essentially based on this point.

        On the other hand, streaming is discriminatory.  My wife, who is now a successful lawyer, was 'streamed' into a commercial track in high school and could not gain admission even to a community college because she didn't have her 12th grade (this was in Canada).  She took the required night course, and eventually was admitted as an 'adult student', though she was still only 23, to the University where I teach.  At the time (30 years ago) such admissions were quite unusual.  The other Universities in town turned her down.

        So i think any system that streams needs to have a lot of escape hatches.

        The more important point is that in the late 1970s the burden of financing higher education shifted from the older generation (tax-payers) to the younge generation (students who have to borrow). This was noted at the time by many economists as a major shift in the direction of intergenerational transfers.  It is in fact very closely tied in with social security, which is a transfer that goes from the young to the old.  In effect, the shift in the locus of responsibility for financing higher (and a lot of lower) education has doubled the burden on the younger generation.  A consistent program requires the old to finance the human capital formation of the young, and for the young to pay back some of that investment by paying for the retirement of the old.  These are linked issues.

      •  Those are fair concerns. (none)
        Of course, we already do have tracking.  The kids who perform best academically get a college prepatory program.  The kids who perform less well academically get a watered down college prepatory program.  The kids who perform least well academically get day care designed to look like a college prepatory program.

        We also have far from universal access to college now.  There is a sorting process.  There are more and less selective schools and we spend a lot more money on the selective schools.  Community colleges are both cheaper and receive less state support per FTE equivalent student, for example.

        As far as college funding goes, my main proposal is to shift money from across the board in-state tuition subsidies, to a more need based system.  This would help, not hurt, someone in your shoes.

        As far as your own experience goes, I think the key point is that something obviously changed for you somewhere along the line.  You didn't keep getting lousy grades.  You decided to give a shit about your education.  I agree that there needs to be room for second chances.  But, while there is room for second chances, there is also room to acknowledge that the vast majority of people who have lousy grades in high school are not going to get an MS or even a BA, ever, and I think they would be better served (even if they eventually pursue a second chance) with a curriculum other than the status quo water down college prep program.

        As far as your brother's experience goes, I think the operative question is, why should training brilliant musicians be shoehorned into the traditional bachelors and masters degree formats?  How many musicians you listen to on the radio or in clubs every day have music degrees?  Many are college educated, but few were trained by professors to be musicians.  It can be done. I went to Oberlin College which has a large music conservatory.  But, one of the virtues of that conservatory was that its program bore only a dim resemblance to a traditional academic college program.  And, I assure you that the conservatory had a great many students whose high school records in academic subjects and on SATs was far below the level that would have been considered acceptable for the liberal arts program.  Musical ability isn't corollated closely with academic ability, and I think most music schools recognize that in their admissions.

        But, consider a different and common scenario.  About 500,000 people every single year graduate from high school, go to college (in most cases with marginal grades and SATs), a drop out a year or two later for the same reasons that they didn't do well in high school.  Nothing changed in them, and nothing changed in their academic work.  When they leave they are tens of thousands of dollars in debt and have no degree to show for their efforts.  Often, they did very poorly in the cases that they did attend.  Do we do them any favors by sending them to college?

        And, most people who graduate from high school without going to college don't eventually go to college later.  They end up as cashiers, hospital orderlies, burger flippers, stop and go sign holders on road construction jobs, janitors, receptionists, file clerks, assembly line workers (in increasingly shrinking numbers), and gas station attendants.  Many of those students would have been less bored with school and would have done better after school, if it had been made more relevant because it tied into a real career.  Would those student be better served by the existing watered down curriculum, or by training to be welders, book keepers, licensed practical nurses and EMTs, copier repairpeople, heavy construction equipment operators, or machinists?  Even if those students never end up following those careers and end up going to college in the end, I'm inclined to think that they'd still be better served because high school would seem more relevant and they might learn more.  Book keepers and LPNs and machinists still need science and math, for example.  It wouldn't have to be all or nothing, but a dose of relevance might keep people in school and engaged instead of bored and on the verge of dropping out with no future in mind.  The military, which recruits students mostly from the middle 50% of high school graduates (the top of the class goes to college instead, and the military has historically not been interested in the bottom of the class), has for years made its pitch on providing practical skills and whipping you into shape so that you will be both ready and financially able to go to college, and it isn't just the financial part, it is the whipping you into shape part too (read: study habits).

        Why should someone have to learn to shoot an M-16 and do push ups to receive that kind of program?

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

        by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:35:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So I should have argued (none)
          for all advanced education to be free. Meaning training for trades jobs as well.

          For me, I changed when I graduated from HS. I didn't want to be poor my entire life and learning made me feel better about myself.

          Far as music degree goes, Berklee is the #1 music college in the world for non-classical music studies. It's the only thing they do. He was already a great musician when he went there and he learned a lot.

          I lived in Boston for a while. I met a few berklee students who had dropped out. The program is so intense that people tend to get burned out. A lot of them finish later.

          In any case, just cause it's free doesn't mean most people will do it. They all know it still requires a lot of work. Like I said, a bunch will fail. So what. At least they tried. At least society tried. They will still have learned something.

      •  There are some talents for which (4.00)
        formal education is not the best model for training/learning.

        Example: my nephew, now in his mid-30's, is a machinist.  He graduated high-school, worked for the friend of a friend, got informal, on-the-job, apprentice-like training, and, by his mid 20's, was a shop leader -- all without post-high school education.

        Company is sold, and new owner decrees that all that people holding my nephew's job had to have an associate's degree.  He dutifully enrolled in the necessary classes -- and dropped out.

        Another company, who knew the story, "invited" him to submit an application.  Nephew has been with that company for 10 years and is making a good income, doing work he enjoys, all without burdening himself with student loans.

        IMO, some of the worst business practices in this country come from relying on paper credentials.

        Someday, the people who know how to use computers will rule over those who don't. And they will have a special name for us: Secretaries. - Dilbert

        by Frankenoid on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:45:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ya right. (3.25)
        "College should be available to everyone. "

        It is available to everyone.  To suggest otherwise is ludicrous.  I attend night classes at the local county college.  It provides full transfer credits at a low cost.  Plenty of motivated poor people there sacrificing their time to better themselves academically.

        People aren't in college because it take sacrifice and hard work (gasp) not because the government isn't redistributing wealth for them to have a full ride at the expense of the rest of us(not to say lots of people wouldn't sit in college if soembody paid them to.) Go check out a library in any area.  Is it packed to the gills with people studying and gaining knowledge?  No, the internet computers are filled and the DVD section is heavily used while the literal tons of knowledge sit there on a shelf gathering dust.  Librarys are a free knowledge resource, available to everybody at the expense of us all.  College isn't even necessary to pursue knowledge.  It is just one avenue.

        You are suggesting dumbing the college system down even more, much like the current primary/secondary system.  Everybody needs a chance, it needs to be fair, and even the most ignorant sack of shit on the block deserves the chance to succeed at college (on our dime) because now he will vote more and be a productive member of society.  We will all be mechanical engineers and doctors! Free college is fantastic!

        •  the pursuit of knowledge (4.00)
          and the pursuit of an education are two different things.  I'm extremely knowledgeable about cooking, yet i hold no formal degree in culinary arts.  I am less knowledgable about Political Science, yet I am a mere three classes away from a formal degree in that field.  the cooking is something I love.  The Poli Sci is something I need to make more money (and the fact that I love it is great, but I'd be getting a 4-year degree in something, even if I didn't love it.)

          Please don't assume that community college is "affordable."  There were times i really had to struggle to come up with an extra $150 for tuition and $250 for books each semester, despite the fact that I was working full time.  When I went to the school's financial aid office to find out how to get help to pay for it, I was told that my parents made too much money.  It didn't matter a lick that I had been fully independent since the age of 17.  The school didn't offer me loans of any kind.  When i finally enrolled in a 4-year university, I had to find out all of the information about scholarships and loans myself.  I'm going on to Grad school next year, and I figure i'll end up owing around $70k in student loans by the time I'm done - maybe more.  I've made peace with that.  I doubt i'll ever own a home, which is okay with me.  But...i really think we're going to see home ownership decline as today's graduates realize they just can't pay for a home loan and a student loan.  

          "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

          by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:07:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well (none)
            I think you're wasting your breath. I've noticed lately theres a whole lot of people on this site that have no idea what it means to be poor.

            College is not available to everyone. The vast majority of the country cannot afford to go to college. Many who do, put themselves far into debt.

            Good luck in grad school.

        •  Good christian (none)
          I can see you're a good christian who belives in helping his neighbor.

          I wasn't even going to respond to your comment but it's so annoying. I've read it several times and other than your rant about "Why in the hell should my tax dollars be used to help anyone else", I can't really see a point to your post.

          I'm not suggesting dumbing down the system. Most of the people will fail within the first two years. So. At least they tried.

          How could investing money into education ever be considered a bad thing? If we put more money into education to support the increased load on the system from the new students, this is bad?

          It's bad to hire more professors and put more people to work training other people? And as I said in one of my replies, this includes training for trade jobs as well.

          Does it make you feel better about yourself that you have to scrap money together to take night classes? Wouldn't it be better if they were free?

      •  Roudy kids should be removed (none)
        Disruptive kids should be removed and put in special schools.  And I say that as a former educator in a school with a national reputation so negative that everyone here would recognize it.  

        And community college, the most heavily subsidized of the colleges, is available to everyone.


        by DWCG on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:01:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hrm.. (none)
          Well, the only national school I can think of is columbine. Even if you were teaching there, I'd still say you're off your rocker. Personally, and I'm trying not to make this personal, but any teacher who thinks any student who is the slightest bit disruptive should be put into another school ought to be jailed.

          The worst students in my classes always paid attention to the teacher who made class interesting and enjoyable. I recall Mr. Skinner my 11th grade history teacher. He had items from each decade of American History from 1900 to present plastered on his wall. I mean literally plastered. He had a washer from 1910, a HUGE washer, just bolted to the plywood on the wall. Even if you weren't paying attention, you were noticing something interesting from history. Kids paid better attention to him because they respected him. He didn't MAKE them respect him, he simply made the class enjoyable. It was a very rare day indeed if Mr. Skinner sent someone to detention. - Not because he was leanient, but because kids, even the ones who I knew were 'roudy' and 'disruptive' paid attention.

          I take special interest with the fact that you say "Community college is available to everyone." Sure, on a part-time schedule. But how many people have the willpower to wait fifteen years for a degree?

          We're not talking about Joe Schmoe who can get a scholarship or loan, or gets help from his parents. You said EVERYONE. And I agree with you. But only part-time - meaning One 3-5 unit class. Anymore than that and we're excluding someone.

          Hell, I'm not even sure that EVERYONE could afford that. Some people are scared shitless that if they change their availability at their job they'll lose hours and won't be able to pay their bills.

          •  Columbine? (none)
            I'm not talking about the kids passing notes in class.  I'm talking about the ones whose lists of extracurricular activities include robbery and aggravated assault.  The ones that throw bricks at the head of the principal, as they did to the former principal at Washington High School, which is right down the street from the city of Compton.  

            This doesn't apply to most students in schools in white affluent suburbs, like Columbine.

            Finally, it doesn't take 15 years to complete a community college - or anywhere near it.  With night school, weekend classes and numerous intersessions most full-time workers could earn their A.A. in a few years.  It takes 60 credits to earn an A.A. in California, and most courses are 3 to 5 credits.  That's two classes a semester, two semesters a year which is completely doable.  And if it's not doable for a particular student it's because of reasons unrelated to the community college system.

            I'm more progressive than most people in this community, but I'm not so easy to dismiss the primary reason inner-city schools (not the Columbines, the Crenshaws) are failing: the parents aren't doing their part.  Again the reason parents aren't more involved are many, and I'm somewhat sympathetic to most of them, but the lack of manners and respect displayed by an 11 year-old is the direct result of parenting.


            by DWCG on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:21:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My mistake. (none)
              And I commend you for your excellence on understanding it all. I agree with you 100% now. Parents don't do shit. They can't do it all, but they don't do it enough. I'm in a simple retail job, and all I see all day long is kids running around without their parents. Parents yelling "Name! Name! Come here right now Name!" Or "Name?! Name! Have you seen my kid? His name is Name!" You get the idea. We even have a special code over the intercom called "Code Adam" where we basically round up all the children who don't have parents and bring them up to the front of the store because their parents lost them.

              Sure, this is small and petty, but I think it says a lot about parents in general these days.

          •  Mr Skinner? (none)
            11th grade american history?  Hmmm. Where'd you go to HS?  Was it in PA?
        •  At some point you are right. (none)
          But, school districts are notorious for not offering or offering substandard alternatives.

          I'm also sympathetic with the commentator who notes that widespread roudyness, as opposed to an occassionl isolated individual, is more often a symptom of bad teaching than a bad student.

          The point to remember is that throwing people away doesn't make sense.  People who really screw up in life, ending up as criminals or addicts or abusive to their families, or whatever, don't come out of nowhere.  When a kid is failing in school because he's disruptive (which encompasses nearly all male high school dropouts under the current system, people who aren't disruptive will graduate even if they have learned almost nothing), he is giving society has bright red warning flag, and by and large we tend to ignore that and kick him out and let him screw up and do much more harm over a lifetime.

          Those kids need more from the system, not less.

          "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

          by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 12:01:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And there is a line to be drawn there as well... (none)
            At some point a person also makes choices in life. Even the most fucked-up childhood in life can still lead to someone making the right decisions in life. I had many reasons to turn out BAD in life. Yet to this day, I've never done drugs, never stolen anything, and I have no intention to, on either account. To my knowledge, my brothers haven't either. Is this good parenting? Is this personal choice? Is it upbringing and environment? Somewhere in there its a little bit of all of them...

            I'm not exactly sure where I stand on the idea of parents being the cardinal role in everything. Personal choice IS in there somewhere. And as I learned in psychology, at least 50% of a person's mind is biochemical. Are we to blame genetics for a person's 'bad choices'? Hardly, but it does play a part in it all.

      •  You should be able to do what you want to do (none)
        Which includes the numbers of students who don't want to go to college, but can't figure out a way to get out from under family/society expectations.  For many people, not sending their kids to college is simply inconceivable.  That's wrong.  

        "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

        by escapee on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 04:23:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You make a good point (none)
      Purely in the interest of responsible use of statistics, it is worth pointing out that college graduates already tend to come from a socioeconomic class that is less likely to need public welfare.

      (Because they get family welfare instead. But just try to get them to see it like that...)

      And the K-12 system does need a major overhaul. In its current form it is an artifact of the early industrial era, where suddenly the average worker needed to be somewhat literate. This was a major leap forward for our society -- for the average person to be expected to be literate.

      But the K-12 system has other artifacts of being tailored for the needs of, basically, factory owners. There is a strong emphasis on schedules, conformity, obedience to authority, rote memorization, sitting still, etc. And there's not a lot of flexibility in terms of learning curve.

      If the K-12 system resembled college a little more (proceed at your own pace, targeted topics, etc.) that might be a start.

      •  I don't know about that (none)
        If the K-12 system resembled college a little more (proceed at your own pace, targeted topics, etc.) that might be a start.

        But wouldn't you say the problem with many college dropouts is that they don't have the independence, discipline or management skills to handle college life?


        by DWCG on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:07:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Disagree (none)
        completely. We did that go at your own pace for 7th grade math. I didn't do any of the work. Take the typical 7th grader with a shitty home life so no parents breathing down his back. More concerned about surviving than education.

        A friend of mine did the same thing. Only his parents got pissed and bitched at the school so they put him on the advanced math track.  I got put in the basic math track. My BS is in math.

    •  Statistics? (none)
      While I gave you a 4 for your remarks, I want to point out that it has been a long time since the US led the world in the rate of university enrollment.  Canada claimed to have the highest rate of working age people educated in 1999, and the recent OECD statistics, if I am reading them correctly, put the US at #14 out of 28.,2639,en_2825_293564_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

      •  I'll be very surprised if the US isn't leading. (none)
        I just saw a gov't report that stated that in the year 2000, a majority of high school seniors went on to college. The number was 56.2 percent of African-American students, and 63.3 percent of all high school graduates.

        Are there really countries that send more than 63% of secondary education graduates on to universities? I would be very surprised by that.

        "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

        by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 04:44:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There's more... (none)
      to college than just getting an education from a book and professor. As a college student I would consider my classes to only contain maybe 50% of my actual 'education'. I presume that college kids are so much more smarter and productive than just high school graduates is because there's a massive differnce in the life lessons you will learn from graduating from a college institution. The responcibility of being a college student compared to one of a HS student is very large.  Not only that, how much better do you think a college kid can network compared to a HS grad? There's an infinite number of utilities a college grad will recieve from just going to college let alone the random facts he or she will learn in class that they can use in any environment. And the life experiences are priceless too.
      Which is why it is important for every child to have the opportunity to go (this doesnt mean every child must go, just that they should had have the opportunity). I just wanted to post cuz everyone here was talking about money and how college is only good for making more of it. But as a college student I know thats only one piece of the pie.  
  •  From someone who still has thirteen years (4.00)
    before my older child is a college freshman -- and who already finds herself stressed about college -- I highly recommend this diary, and I could not agree more that the Democratic party should seize and own this issue.

    The public wants what the public gets, but I don't get what this society wants -- Paul Weller

    by jamfan on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 07:44:51 AM PDT

    •  This is what I think (none)
      Save for your own retirement first. I would worry about your child's tuition, but I would also not stress about it either. Ultimately, the more you save, the more you are likely to be penalized by financial aid officers.

      That being said, though, financial aid just seems to be completely arbritary. I've often heard stories of families in almost the exact same financial situations where one has gotten aid and the other has gotten screwed.

      The families I would often not have much sympathy for were those whose parents made tons of money, but didn't save. I'm talking about the ones who lived in expensive houses, drove luxury cars, went on vacations every year, and so forth. They just didn't bother to save. And yet I would often hear sob stories about how those parents were "screwed".

      •  THE BIG SECRET (none)
        Ultimately, the more you save, the more you are likely to be penalized by financial aid officers.



        by DWCG on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:18:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (none)
          What I often thought was the biggest injustice was that there were families who saved, who made sacrifices. They were middle-class. But they were stuck getting nothing.

          Conversely there were families where both parents took home six figure salaries; lived in places like Bethesda, MD and McLean, VA; drove expensive cars, bought their children expensive cars; took luxurous vacations every few years; and never saved. And yet these families would often get better deals that those who had saved by making sacrifices.

          So financial aid is really abritary. The way they give out money really doesn't seem to follow any pattern.  

          •  Oh it's not THAT arbitrary (none)
            Essentially, that saved money is considered a form of financial aid.  If you don't have it, you get other forms of aid.

            Most "smart parents" aren't saving a dime in the name of "college savings."  Instead they establish savings accounts for their older parents, and has granny pay tuition from there.  They get more aid, and get to claim their parents as exemptions.


            by DWCG on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:00:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not certain that's arbitrary but I will (none)
            say it is not transparent. In other words, most schools use a scale that weighs merit versus need. So, if you come from a wealthier family than another student, your financial package may be better than a poorer student's simply because of this sliding scale. It's really difficult to know why one student is favored over another. However, there is a methodology which takes some of the arbitrary nature of the FAFSA and renders it transparent--to those on the inside of the process.

            I do believe that families with 6 figure salaries do not figure into the scale at all at most universities.

            "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

            by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:14:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Buy a car! (none)
            A classmate of mine explained to me in 1972 (when we were at college) that his well-to-do parents went out and bought a new car right before college -- and that might be why he got more financial aid than I and my not-well-to-do parents.
      •  Additionally (none)
        Room and board accounts for nearly half the tuition at most private universities and over half the tuition at most public universities.  The argument can be made that society/government should be paying for the classes, but why should taxpayers be paying for the food and shelter of a kid from a financially-stable family?


        by DWCG on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:50:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  a degree as an investment (4.00)
    Certain fields do pay more upon graduation- engineering and medicine come to mind.  It is easier to pay off student loans if one is making more. I recall reading an article by a former journalist that struggled to make ends meet but the entry level pay wasn't covering her expenses and debt. She then trained as an electrician and her income went up dramatically.
      Should parents discourage their children from certain majors that may not see a large market for their skills when they graduate?
      This is an excellent diary- education costs are eye popping, the top schools may be losing excellent students for lack of funds and if we don't have a well educated country, we won't be able to compete globally.
      Didn't Toyota decide to build a plant in Canada instead of Alabama because national health care there made workers cheaper and Toyota was able to find literate employees up north?
      My biggest concern is that the state schools have been the most affordable way to advance oneself.  If those become out of reach, what then?

    My child rides the short train to Hogwarts.

    by offred on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 07:55:20 AM PDT

    •  Jobs moving to Canada (none)
      Not just Toyota . . . many jobs from the big three are moving to Canada for this reason as well.  (GM estimates as much as $1500 of the cost of a vehicle is due solely to medical care.)
  •  Thank you Bondad (none)
    I've worked at a university for the last decade.  I attend classes full time.  I expect to graduate with 70k or so in student loans.  Thank you for your work on this subject.  

    "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

    by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:14:10 AM PDT

  •  bonddad, may I suggest that you link (none)
    your earlier diaries at the bottom of each segment for easy access to the series? I think it's important for readers to see an evolution in the discussion.

    "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

    by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:21:25 AM PDT

  •  Let me just say... (4.00)
    ...that anyone wanting to ensure the loyalty of my generation (18-29) to the Democratic Party for the next five decades would do very well to put this issue front and center.

    I'm 25. Most people I know at my age are concerned about these debt levels. We took them on in the late '90s in the belief we'd get good jobs in a flush economy and have the loans paid off by age 30. That is looking less likely, and the loan consolidation gravy train may be leaving the station.

    Point #5 is something we are all painfully, painfully aware of. When I visit with old friends from high school or college, people who have gone separate ways from me, it's something we're all finding we have in common, and are all very worried about.

    If our candidate in 2008 comes out with a plan to help those of us who already have debt - i.e. retain the consolidation programs we already have and subsidize a low rate - as well as something to ease the tuitions crisis across the nation, that candidate will have done him or herself an excellent job at locking up not only the 18-29 generation but the many of the concerned parents of those kids who will be following us into the colleges.

    Unfortunately, that's not enough, since much of this issue is a state-level issue. The anti-tax nonsense that has swept many states, easily the worst thing to happen on a state level to this country in many decades, has meant a transfer of costs to families and students. We need to be MUCH more aggressive in pointing out that hikes in tuition are equivalent to a massive tax increase on families, and that the costs of college are something that should be borne by society, as an investment in its collective future.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:23:48 AM PDT

    •  One easy law would help the loan situation. (none)
      If you allow to gov't to unsecure the loan and sell it in the secondary market, rates could drop substantially. It's a risk because you'd lose the 6 months of deferrals, but you'd get a lower-rate. They may even keep the bankruptcy laws the same with regard to student loans.

      A couple years ago people were still paying 8.5% post-consolidation while banks were financing loans for 4%. Students who took loans out after 1992 were able to consolidate at the lower rates.

      I saw this as punishment for receiving student loans.

      "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

      by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:34:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure (none)
        I suspect student loans are like mortgages.

        The rates go down... the principal goes up.  That is, people look at the monthly payment and as the rates go down they tact on more at the principal end.

        I paid 9% on my student loans for 10 years.  Now students not only get lower rates, but the interest is tax deductible.  They now borrow twice as much as I did.

        I still think a large part of our problem has been all the laws designed to fix the problems.

        •  I don't understand. (none)
          A lower interest rate means lower total payments. How can they tack on more principal at the end? You agree to the loan amounts you take out.

          "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

          by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:40:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Human nature... (none)
            I guess what I'm saying is that human nature has us only looking at the monthly costs... not the total costs.

            This is the way car salesmen sell cars.  As rates go down, people looking at the monthly realize they can pay more for a car.  This same phenomena is what's largely driving house prices up.  Interest only mortgages encourage people to offer more for homes.

            It's a viscious cycle.

            So the rates go down, what happens is that on the backend the regents of the university see this and say "Oh, students can afford another $5k because rates have gone down, let's raise tuition."

            I also think there is a factor in here that students really are powerless to stop tuition hikes... the free market isn't free.

            I'm not sure of the solution, although in general I think it means more control put into the hands of the legislature to control costs... somehow, maybe, not sure how this would work.

            •  The one thing you have to realize however (none)
              is that subsidized loans are capped. You can't take out more than they will give you.

              A university will attempt to meet your need (as reported to them by FAFSA) by offering you up to the capped amount. So, if tuition is $30k, the university starts by assuming that you'll need $22.5k (30k tuition-7.5k in loans). Then, if you're poor, they'll deduct the Pell Grant. Let's say then they believe you'll need 20k. Then they'll offer you work-study, and drop you another 3k, and you'll have 17k worth of need. If you're an excellent student and you don't have the means, most schools will try to meet 90-100% of that need.

              So, essentially, the school's tuition is 30k, and your financial aid package comes back with the school offering you about 16k in grants-in-aid (or, say, 18k if you include the Pell Grant). You scratch your head an realize that you're responsible for the rest in loans and work. But it's always been this way for poor students.

              This is what we used to call need-blind admissions. The trend away from need-blind is what worries me. Only the top private universities in the country can afford such a policy.

              "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

              by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:26:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Um, government guaranteed loans... (none)
        ...are sold on the secondary market. Direct loans from the government are not, though they can be "consolidated" (i.e., refinanced) through private lenders, reducing the rates when rates have dropped.

        Unsecuring the government-guaranteed already-marketable loans would raise the interest rates, not lower them.

        •  If someone with a post-consolidated loan (none)
          with a rate of 8% or more had a shot at refinancing, are you saying that they couldn't do better than 8%? in speaking to people in the student loan industry, they have always explained to me that the system would bankrupt itself if the gov't agreed to allow their high rate loans to be refinanced. Largely because the money it makes from the high interest loans is funneled back into the Ford program. However, if direct loans could be refinanced without any of the regulations incumbent on the purchasers right now, I am almost positive these purchasers could do much better than 8%.

          "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

          by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:05:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Refinancing and consolidating... (none)
            in speaking to people in the student loan industry, they have always explained to me that the system would bankrupt itself if the gov't agreed to allow their high rate loans to be refinanced. Largely because the money it makes from the high interest loans is funneled back into the Ford program. However, if direct loans could be refinanced without any of the regulations incumbent on the purchasers right now, I am almost positive these purchasers could do much better than 8%.

            A few years ago I did refinance a direct Ford loan, from around 8% to just over 4%. So I'm pretty sure it can be done.

            After consolidation, you no longer have a federal loan -- you have a private loan, and there are institution that offer refinancing and consolidation of private student loans, including private loans that are consolidation loans. (from a quick Googling, see here). They are currently advertising rates around 7%, though I've received reconsolidation/refinancing solicitations advertising considerably lower rates.

            •  Actually, the federal gov't does (none)
              consolidate loans. And, in effect, they do not become private loans because the Feds are still on the hook for the guarantee. If you welch on your private financer, the gov't pays. The private financer essentially recognizes them as guaranteed gov't loans which the private financer is servicing.

              Once you consolidate, you are not allowed to reconsolidate your loan.

              That's the problem. If you took out a loan prior to the mid-90s and you consolidated, then you are out of luck.

              "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

              by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:25:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Consolidation and refinancing some more... (none)
                Once you consolidate, you are not allowed to reconsolidate your loan.

                Strange, then, that lenders have and market products that are expressly reconsolidation loans whose major selling point is that you can use them to refinance a consolidated loan, like the one I posted the link to.

                That's the problem. If you took out a loan prior to the mid-90s and you consolidated, then you are out of luck.

                You can reconsolidate federal student loans, as explained here, and they remain federal or guaranteed loans.

                You generally can't reconsolidate a student loan without having a separate eligible loan to consolidate it with, though, although it an be a loan of your spouses, at least within the program, though I believe the loan I posted a link to previously allows you to do that, but is a private loan, not federally guaranteed, hence the fairly high (compared to current ~3% federal loan rates -- though considerably lower than 8%) interest rate.

                •  Right, that's exactly it. (none)
                  Unless you go back to school and have a new loan to consolidate, you can't reconsolidate. You're forbiddden.

                  I think that link there is a false advertisement, in a sense. You are always required to combine a loan if you are consolidating a second time.

                  As well, you may be offered a lower rate because of gov't approved incentives. For instance, they may be authorized to drop your rate if you make payments to them on time in the first two years, and then also if you agree to allow direct deductions from a bank account. They can shave off a quarter point here and a quarter point there (which may indeed be worth it) but they can't give you a lower rate unless you have new loans to consolidate.

                  I've actually been through the grinder on this one. There is really no escape hatch. For those of us that went to school in the high interest 80s, we are basically out of luck. The kids who are in school today have a slightly high loan burden (I took out $20k, the max today is 23k for GSLs) but they also have lower rates.

                  "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

                  by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:56:40 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  speaking of loans (none)
        I think one common sense policy would be to encourage a move towards the Direct Loan program and away from the FFEL program.  Though the borrowing terms are generally the same for both programs as far as the student is concerned, the government spends a huge amount of money subsidizing private FFEL lenders that could instead be used for more student aid.  From an April 2004 study by the Center for American Progress:

        Currently, schools may choose to offer their students one of two types of federally guaranteed loans - those administered through the Direct Loan program or those administered through the FFEL program. Under the Direct Loan program, the government is the lender, getting its capital wholesale through Treasury bonds. Under the FFEL program, the government guarantees the returns to private lenders - such as Sallie Mae and Citibank - who provide the capital.

        FFEL is a no-lose proposition for private lenders. The government guarantees repayment in the case of default and a predetermined profit margin, paying a subsidy if the student interest rate falls below a set level. Therefore, it is not surprising that the largest private lender in FFEL - Sallie Mae - is also one of the most profitable companies in the country. In fact, Sallie Mae was recently identified as the second most profitable company in the United States with over 36 percent return on revenues - compared to a median return of 4.6 percent for the nation's 500 biggest companies.


        If schools were encouraged or required to switch from FFEL to Direct Loans, the government savings could be used to expand grants and other student aid to students at the federal or institutional levels.

        The report estimates based on 2001-2002 loan volume data that if all loans were made through the Direct Loan program, taxpayers would save over $4.5 billion per year (for a total savings of $6.6 billion per year versus if all schools used the FFEL program).

        More from an April 2005 article from the Village Voice (reprinted on the National Direct Student Loan Coalition webpage):

        President Bill Clinton, who introduced the direct loans in 1993, described their creation as taking 'on powerful vested interests in behalf of the national interest . . . remov[ing] a government-guaranteed income from several interests who like the system as it is now.' Clinton hoped to eliminate bank loans entirely, but the Consumer Bankers Association, MBNA, and other groups fought hard and won, and the programs have coexisted ever since.

        Well, over 10 years later, the numbers are in. According to President Bush's latest education budget, loans made through FFEL in 2004 cost the federal government $12.09 on every $100. Direct loans cost just 84 cents. The STAR Act, sponsored by Democrat George Miller and Republican Tom Petri in the House and Democrat Ted Kennedy in the Senate, proposes making some of the savings available to colleges who choose direct loans, with the stipulation that the schools pass it on in the form of Pell Grants to lower-income students.

        For many students from families making less than $40,000 a year, those higher grants could determine whether they get to college at all.

        As it stands, banks are profiting from FFEL and then using those profits for marketing and incentives to keep schools in the fold. Only about 1,200 colleges now use direct loans, making up about 30 percent of total loan volume. According to the Congressional Budget Office, even a modest expansion in the Direct Loan Program could save up to $12 billion in the next 10 years. Many colleges would save enough to increase their Pell Grants by as much as a thousand bucks each.

        FFEL is worth a lot to the nation's powerful financial-services lobby, and those bankers won't give it up without a fight. Since 1994, student loan volume has nearly quadrupled to $85 billion annually, and it's still growing. Student lenders are some of the most profitable companies in the country. They pad their bottom line by trading loan portfolios and marketing private or 'alternative' loans at higher interest rates. For Sallie Mae, which dominates the student loan market, profits ballooned from $384 million in 2001 to $1.3 billion last year. And every dollar it lends is still underwritten by the federal government.

    •  I'd like to add one more thing. (4.00)
      States are supposedly cutting taxes, but the real burden has actually increased due to health care costs. In my town, Medicaid is eating 75% of the budget. It has doubled in the last ten years. Property taxes were cut, the sales tax was raised, but when you realize that our new assessments sky-rocketed, we actually spend more in state and local tax than we used to.

      The only way that funding for all education (college and state) will come up to previous levels is not by raising taxes, but rather by solving the national health care crisis which is draining so much of our excess dollars.

      Bonddad writes about Canada in his diary above. That's exactly it. The country has health care, and that makes it a good place to do business.. If you improve the business and social climate,t hen revenues will rise and we can reinvest in America's future without breaking the back of both taxpayers and students.

      "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

      by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:38:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  i could not agree more (none)
      the fear of debt, compounded by the stresses of securing and paying for housing, and finding a way to get decent health care, is why so many of us gen x'ers and below have this lingering sense of insecurity. both eugene and i have diaried on this previously, but the issues of healthcare, affordable higher education and universal healthcare would not only be a smart political move for the democrats, but from a practical standpoint the democrats' solution of these thee crises is the only way that i see most of my peers getting through life without facing an economic crisis down the road.

      this also divides along generational lines, and in places like california there is a very real problem potentially for the left, where boomers sit unencumbered by massive educational debts, bought their housing when the prices were low, and have jobs that provide decent benefits, and wonder aloud why these kids aren't supporting themselves while they control "sprawl" in ways that keeps the price of housing far beyond any hope of purchase. one of the reasons why under-30s initially supported the hollow slogan of social security "reform" was out of spite, as we figured that there was no way we were ever going to see the government actually deliver on anything benefitting us (growing up in the post-prop. 13 reagan years, we've never actually seen government services function as they were intended), and didn't want to pay for the retirement of affluent people that don't seem to give a damn for our predicament. obviously this is not where i stand, nor where most under-30s now stand after the left did some serious educational campaigns about SS, but the fact that it was a compelling line - "they don't care about you, so why pay for them," that old republican wedge - suggests we need to seriously address the stresses and lack of trust that makes it function so well. finding a way out of this crisis might help us to avoid an intergenerational fracture down the road over things like taxes and growth, which is exactly the sort of nasty thung that the right thrives on politically.

      the other societal cost that this skyrocketing tuition leaves us with is that by limiting the number of applicants who can reasonably attempt to pay the tuition, our colleges are becoming a place increasingly limited to the upper-middle class. this not only cuts down on our ideal of meritocracy, lowers the quality of all kids' education (getting an economically uniform group of students to think critically about social and economic issues is more challenging than when your classroom in filled with kids from different experiences and backgrounds) and reduces the effectiveness of education's role as an engine of social mobility, as well as a site for people of diverse ethnic and class backgrounds to mix and build a new incusive society (rising tuition is another likely cause of falling diversity, especially when you note that black and latino families often pay higher rates for mortgages and other debt financing, so are already in a deep hole), but perhaps most politically dangerous for the left in the long term, the increasing class purity of college students allows the right to paint education as an elite marker. once this is established, the right's line that intellectuals are the real elite class in this country is more likely to stick, and that perception makes it easier for them to persuade working class people that paying taxes to suppport spoiled rich kids' education is a waste of their hard-earned money. such a line would be harder to sell if those working class parents thought their children would have a shot at attending college some day.

      crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

      by wu ming on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:40:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You make some good points, but... (none)
        "while they control "sprawl" in ways that keeps the price of housing far beyond any hope of purchase"

        The notion that environmentally-minded growth control is why housing isn't affordable is building lobby hogwash. There is no compelling evidence relating unencumbered sprawl with lower housing prices. In fact, it tends to be the opposite. More development equals higher housing costs.

        That is because sprawl and high housing prices are both driven by the same thing: people want to live in the area. Cheap houses are found in places where nobody's building anything either.

        •  i'm not attacking sprawl per se (none)
          - i think intelligent, new urbanism development is the way out of this mess - but just the attempts to prevent new housing from being built in one's community on the excuse that it contributes to sprawl. there is, beyond a doubt, not enough housing in states like california for non-wealthy people of my age to have a dream of actually buying a house someday. while anti-sprawl advocates ostensiby limit growth to prevent sprawl, they don't provide any other kind of higher density alternative, they just shut growth down completely, thus driving prices up. i have seen my hometown go from a place where college students could stay and buy a house to where nobody who goes to school here or grows up here can afford to remain in town, all in less than a decade; the loudest opponents of  "sprawl" are the most recent arrivals, who have their wealth wrapped up in their equity due to the housing bubble. if the left wants to avoid this reckoning, we will have to find a way to address affordable housing for people who didn't have the sense to be born decades earlier and buy it back in the 70s. neglecting this crisis runs the risk of sparking off an unnecessary internecine war between people who already own their house and people who pay 50% or more of their income in rent.

          crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

          by wu ming on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:17:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Other demographics are affected as well (none)
      Your age group is not the only one. I and many of my friends jumped off our job tracks and went to grad school in the '90s as well, because juggling young kids and a full-time job just leaves NO time for higher education. Consequently, although we are all making more money with advanced degrees, but not the huge gains in salary we too thought we would make, we are also stuck paying off our own loans (which are no longer eligible for consolidation OR tax deductions). And now that our kids are reaching college age, we can't afford to send them even to community college because we can't take on even one more bill when we're already drowning in debt. Likewise, on paper, it looks like we make too much money for them to qualify for anything but the smallest amount of financial aid. My 18-year-old son even wanted to join the Army, he was so desperate to find a way to go to school.

      I'm not sure where some of you live, but in every state I've ever lived in, it cost way more than $150 - $200 a semester -- even for community college, even for one class -- because of all the fees they tack on whether you take one class or a full load. As a former professor, I can say that college is definitely NOT for everyone. But it should be AVAILABLE to everyone.

  •  Merit-based versus need-based (4.00)
    Bonddad, I addressed this on one of your Booman diaries.

    Increasing amounts of the available aid are being channeled to merit-based, rather than need-based, aid.  

    The problem is, how do you define merit?  The best students, the real cream-of-the-croppers, are already qualifying for the named scholarships and special programs.  Much merit-based money goes to the good students from nice neighborhoods and competitive schools, because every SAT between 1300 and 1400 raises the profile of Local State U.  It goes out in packages of several thousand dollars.  This money benefits the school more than it benefits the students - the amounts given are seldom large, and they're usually one-year-only grants.  Local State U. is investing in their own advertising with these funds.

    And that limits the money available to needy students, who don't raise profiles - the best student from a bad school doesn't do enough for Local State U. to be invested in.

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:29:12 AM PDT

    •  USNews Effect (4.00)
      There's an insidious effect here with the primacy of the rankings game that many colleges play now - forces them to keep up SATs, etc. to stay high in the rankings, all of which reinforce existing class biases.  
    •  From my knowledge of admissions comittees (4.00)
      who operate on a need-blind basis and pass recommendations onto the financial aid committees, a sliding scale is used which equates both need and merit.

      In other words, if you meet a certain income threshold AND you have excellent scores, they try to meet 100% of your need as determined by FAFSA. As you slide down the scale for either higher income purposes, or having lesser scores, the school will only try to meet 75% of your need, or 50%, or 25%.

      Of course, schools are moving away from need-blind admissions, which is a damn shame. The Ivy leagues and a handful of others have managed to maintain these standards, but it's becoming more difficult elsewhere.

      "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

      by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:42:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And from mine... (none) varies from school to school, mostly based on how the school views its publicity needs.

        "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

        by escapee on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 03:57:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Parent plus loans (none)
    My kids will leave college each owing 20k each and I will owe another 100k beyond that. They attended out of state schools. That doesn't count the money I took out of my home equity.

    SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

    by mollyd on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 08:40:47 AM PDT

  •  This is a huge issue (4.00)
    This is a REPUKE assault on the middle class.

    1. They have cut federal taxes on corporations.
    2. State taxes follow, as both are tied together.
    3. States have lowered revenues.
    4. K-12 must be funded, as must medicaid.  
    5. Thus, they cut support for state colleges.
    6. Colleges raise tuition.

    We must MUST MUST press this point - cuts in corporate taxes lead DIRECTLY to increases in tuition.
  •  Tell me about it! (none)
    I've posted in these threads frequently. College is extremely expensive. A lot of students are leaving graduate and law school owing six figures worth of debt. It is really scary.
    •  Law School (none)
      I left law school with pretty close to six figures of debt.  I'm lucky--I managed to get a great job with a good salary and have been able to work with it.   But it does mean that I have to stay in private practice at a large firm... at this point, I could not go into governement work or public interest law or teaching.   I am very doubtful that I could even go into practice on my own--meaning, that I need to sacrifice flexibility, family time, etc. for the $.   Now, again, I'm very lucky, in that I've landed with a firm that has been very flexible with me, but I know that I'm the exception, not the rule.

      I would assume with med school grads its the same--there aren't a lot of people who are going to be able to go to rural or inner city hospitals and swing their loans.   That means that those hospitals need to pay more to recruit,  raising costs.

      Its not just about the personal economics--I whine, but at the end of the day, I'm not starving and my family is better off than most--but it does have macro effects.

      •  Well (none)
        You're in a much better position. I went for an MA degree and accurred a ton of debt. I have most of my loans on deferment for economic hardship. I know that as I earn more money it will get better, but I worry a lot about what I am going to do.
        •  Trust me, I understand (none)
          There but for the grace of God.....My husband is working on his PHd in History.  He's got loans up the kazoo, and as you probably know, jobs for social sciences and humanities PHds are few and far between and even if you get one, they don't pay enough to handle close to 100k in loans.  Basically, my salary is paying both our loans. =  Our loan payments combined are more than my house and two car payments.  
  •  We as a nation (none)
    can do better than this. It's the future of the country we are talkin about.
  •  Several observations... (4.00)
    First, I hate your formatting... it's hardly readable.

    Second, I'm not sure some of your statements are logical.  That is one thing deriving from another.  That's ok, I get your point...

    Third, when I was in college from '86-'91 tuition went up an average of 10-15% per year so I fully understand the pains this causes.

    Fourth, I believe that part of the problem is the abuse of student loans and other student aid by administrations.  The Regents of the colleges look at it and go... 'We can raise tuition 15%, cause if people can't afford it they'll get aid from the government.'

    Fifth, I believe the priorities of the universities are misplaced from education towards something else.  It appears to me that as this priority shift occured in the 1980s, possibly resulting from the enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act, tuition started skyrocketing as the colleges sought to spend money on things other than teaching.

    Sixth, I am deeply disturbed every time I listen to the radio and they talk about going to college.  They sit there talking about how they're going to afford Harvard for their little darling.  Umm... anybody remember State Universities?  Not everybody goes to Harvard, and I'm frankly not convinced it makes much of a difference in people's careers.  Not in the US, anyway... In Europe it matters what schools tie you wear as it opens doors even for the incompetents, but not here.

    •  state universities are skyrocketing too (none)
      the tuition in the UC system has gone up a tremendous amount, and many of us would not have been able to afford the shift without the tuition waivers that the graduate student unions negotiated as part of our contract. they calculated it in ther university newspaper last year and found that technically speaking that UC davis is a private school, in that the cost of education is borne almost entirely by tuition.

      crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

      by wu ming on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:44:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  CSU as well (none)
        Fees at the CSU schools have gone up over 60% in one year for undergrads.  Then the chancellor negotiated regular increases of double digits with the guvenator.  i wonder when they'll realize that an uneducated workforce means fewer corporations will locate here?

        "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

        by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:16:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you Steve (none)
      I agree with every word you typed.  

      Additionally, it's mind-boggling to me that parents are willing to pay $25-30K to send their kids to a private college that is no better (IF NOT WORSE) than the local public university, and then have the audacity to complain about the lack of financial aid they get from the government.  The government keeps open the doors to the public university that your snotty ass kid is too good for.


      by DWCG on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:29:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans Rape the Middle Class (none)
    You are right in that Dems should focus on this issue.  This is a bread and butter middle class issue and one that the Dems should both research and drive home to the public.  

    Here are some things to look into:

    1. How Republican tax cuts have increased college tuitions.  Should be an easy linkage between tax cuts and public colleges, the linkage between tax cuts and private colleges would be harder but doable.

    2. How Republican tax cuts hurt the middle class because of cuts to college financing programs.

    The Republicans have gotten alot of middle class voters to vote for them by promising or giving tax cuts.  It's up to the democrats to show how those tax cuts, hurt, not help the middle class.

    People vote with this pocket books.  

    •  No (none)
      People vote their beliefs. They often haven't any idea why the pocketbooks are so thin. They honestly may believe that their lot in life is so meagre because of a conspiracy of the liberal elites to keep them down. If they believe it, they'll vote accordingly.

      We are doing a piss-poor job of making the case for a class warfare in this country's elections. It has frequently been said by Republican operatives that the best way for Democrats to retake a majority political position in this country is to work the class warfare angle. We should take their advice.

      Diaries like this about bread and butter issues are a good start, but they need framing in a suitable narrative that voters can believe in. Just throwing issues like this into the mix without a consistent system of though about them is asking to be slaughtered.

      George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

      by mbryan on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:34:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Alternatives (none)
    Thank goodness we have programs like military service and the Peace Corps that offer programs that help students finance higher education through community service.
    •  i wonder how many (4.00)
      of the dead US soldiers in Iraq were counting on money from uncle sam to help pay for college?  

      IMO, this is the most insidious recruiting device they use: College too expensive?  Survive four years in Iraq, and if we don't back-door draft you, we'll give you 20k for college!  

      You shouldn't have to put your life on the line to afford college.

      "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

      by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:19:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Borrow? (none)
    a larger number of students are forced to borrow for educational purposes and a larger percentage of graduates has a higher amount of total debt on graduation.

    Same problem with borrowing. A poor kid simply can't borrow what it costs to go to college. A middle class kid may be able to get his parents to co-sign a loan, but state secured financing sources for college loans are drying up as well.

    That only leaves, well..., the military as an option for poor kids to finance their college education.

    The Minutemen should sign up to patrol the Iraqi-Syrian border, they're such brave patriots.

    by chuco35 on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:23:48 AM PDT

    •  I don't know about this. (none)
      I haven't heard that GSLs are drying up. Where are you getting this information? I'm underthe assumption thaat you can borrow about $7k or so at a decent interest rate and that the interest is subsidized and deferred.

      "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

      by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:33:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Try Going To College On This Amount (none)
        nowadays. Unless you go to a community college and live with mami and papi.

        Our firm has a scholarship fund, and we work with poor kids in helping them fund their education. It's getting harder and harder to borrow ENOUGH money to go to a state college out of town, and there's more and more red tape in the way, which can knock a poor kid off track.

        The Minutemen should sign up to patrol the Iraqi-Syrian border, they're such brave patriots.

        by chuco35 on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:43:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can't agree with you. (none)
          A poor student still has access to public education in most states. It is getting more expensive, but in NY the tuition is 5k for the SUNY's. It's 6k in Connecticut. If you add 7.5k in subsidized loan to a Pell grant, then you have 150-200% of the tuition costs available. It's not optimal but I think the possibilities are there.

          "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

          by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:46:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okey Dokey... (none)
            Tuition, room and board, books, fees, transportation, and other living expenses are not within easy reach of the kid whose parents earn $14,000 a year, and have 3-4 other kids to take care of at home. A Pell grant is not automatic. And neither are guaranteed federal loans.

            Tuition and room and board at the University of Texas is $12,000. Add another $1000 for books and fees, and another $2000 for necessary living expenses, and it's out of reach fot the above kid. When I went to college there were student loans and grants available from the state, along with loans and grants from the feds. No more. And tuition and room and board was 30% of what it is now.

            The Minutemen should sign up to patrol the Iraqi-Syrian border, they're such brave patriots.

            by chuco35 on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 02:14:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Here are some figures. (none)
              Tutition at the University of Texas: $5,200

              A student whose parents make $14,000 is definitely oging to qualify for a Pell Grant and subsidized loans.

              Pell grant: $4k a year
              GSL: average of $5.7k a year
              Perkins: $6k a year
              SEOG: $3k a year
              Work-Study: $3k a year

              Add it all up: almost $22k a year. Subtract $5.7 from that (the GSL loan) because that's too much in loans, and you still have $16k in financial aid a year available for poor students. If the student is a really good student, the university will also kick in grants in aid to cover any cost of living expense. Add to that any money the student earns over the summer, and a poor student should have the access to $20k a year for education.

              I still say a school like U. Texas is an absolute bargain.

              Now, you're including room & board, which takes care of the student's housing, food & utilities. You can't lump all these costs into the cost of education. After all, if the kid isn't in college, he or she still has to eat, right? You still have to feed, clothe and house the kid if you're his parents. The cost of R&B plus expenses (student activity funds and books) at UT is $13,000 (according to their website). So, that's $7,800 more than tuition. $7,800 for all your food, for housing and utilities, who knows maybe that's too much money. It seems reasonable, but let's say it's too much. Let's say if the student lived alone and had a job his rent would only cost him $5000 a year, and let's say he could get by on $100 of food a month, and $100 for utilities. Well, guess what, you are right up against that threshold that UT charges for R&B.

              How is it out of reach? Tuition at $5.2k is a bargain, and the student still has access to $20k a year. Pell grants are exactly for the student whose parents make $14k. He has access to SEOGs and Perkins loans at low subsidized interest rates. Who said these things aren't available anymore? They are.

              "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

              by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 04:29:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  hahahahahah (none)

        FOR FOUR YEARS?!! hahaha Oh my god, I could die from my sides splitting. I'm sorry for laughing at you, but really... Are you kidding? $7,000? What'll that pay for? Tuition? Tuition and books? for one year? Even if the loan was recurring every year, and you got a total of $28,000 it still wouldn't be anything. Here, let me go down a list for you, for living in San Francisco, going to city college for two years and then transfering to a major university like SFSU.

        $23,760 for four years leaves you $16.50 a day to live on. Food, grooming supplies, haircut, clothes, and pretty much anything else that doesn't go into these other categories.
        $2,400 - For a $40 cell phone bill and a $10 credit card bill (I'm REALLY being leanient on this one. Most cell phone bills are $50, and credit card bills... My GOD)
        $35,200 for Rent and Utils. Roughly $735 for rent and utilities in a city like SF. Which is impossible. It automatically means I have to get a roommate. That's fine.
        $2,160 for transportation. This is yet another one of those 'extremely leanient categories' because I'm choosing to use Muni in SF. Only $45 a month for a muni pass. Most people have cars - Which includes insurance, gas, and maintenancebreakdown of the car. Did I mention Gas Prices have soared as of recent? I don't really pay much attention to that sort of thing, but its pertinent to my argument that $7k is nothing.
        $1000 for books. (Yeah, once again being leanient - but I'm assuming I can find them cheap on EBay) This is just for the first two years
        $1352 - 12 units times current California unit price for two years.
        $8208 - for two years SFSU admission and books.

        Okay so thats the end of expenses. Let's look at income.
        If I worked 16 hours a week, and fitted it in around my SFSU full-time schedule and homeworkstudy time, at a rate of $10.815 an hour - what I currently make, with a .2 percent tax rate, I'd make roughly $6,644.

        Add that with $250 I get from my parents per month - $3,000

        The grand-total for four years comes out to be $73,920! And all I wanted to do was become a teacher. Imagine that.

        Minus my income comes to $35,341.06 in loans.

        Yeah, well, I'm sorry to tell ya, but your measly $7k isn't gunna cut it. Even if it was recurring for four years. And as the other guy said, this assumes you're part of the middle class and get such a loan approvedco-signed. What about the poor? What about the people who are a lot like me, who have parents who can barely afford the $250 a month, or have no money being sent to them at all.

        This shit doesn't cut it.

        •  $7000 a year. (none)
          Could've saved you the anguish.

          "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

          by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:18:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  agree on costs (none)
          my daughter attended a state U part time this past year.  Books and supplies for two classes, just two- $650. It was organic chem that was the killer. And the class required all new.  This adds up for people on budgets.

          My child rides the short train to Hogwarts.

          by offred on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:41:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  reality check (none)
        I work 30 hours a week and take home about $21k per year.  If i attend classes full time, the max i can borrow is $10,500, plus whatever private lending sources will give me.  Of that, less than half is subsidized, because i don't have "need."  I'm paying 8% on the rest of the loan, which is more than the interest rate on my car payment.  I live in SoCal, and after paying rent, car payment, insurance, gas, tuition and books, I have $1500 a year left over for luxuries like food, electricity and a telephone.  If my tuition weren't subsidized by my employer, i'd be $1640 in the hole at the outset.  So, loans are the only way i can make the ends meet.  Part of the problem, IMO, is that the cost of living for different parts of the country are either not factored into the government's "need" calculations, or they're not factored in at realistic rates.  

        I'm really comfortable with the choices i've made in pursuit of my education, but i'm also 33 and have a realistic outlook.  I wonder, though, about the decisions the 20 year-olds are faced with, especially those with little or no support from their families.  

        At my university, full need means you are your own sole support and you make less than $15k a year gross.  Merit based awards go to those with a gpa of over 3.8, and they usually go to those with a high gpa AND need.  A lot of getting scholarships here is about sucking up to the right people.  Fact is, i don't have that kind of time.  

        "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

        by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:37:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The first thing is I was responding to jiacinto (none)
          who said he had been orphaned and so had no parental income.

          I looked into things a bit more for someone in his situation. The total GSL amount for 4 years is $23,000. The highest Pell Grant one may receive is just over $16,000 for 4 years. One may also receive subsidized Perkins loans at a much better rate than GSLs, and these you can take up to $24,000 a year as well. Then, there are also federal SEO grants which can also defray college costs. Jiacinto would have qualified for all of these. He entered "0" on his Fafsa.

          So, that's $63,000. In the two states I mentioned, a degree can be had for $20k and $24k respectively.

          Of course, I think that taking out more than $25k in loans for an undergraduate degree is too much of a burden. So, lop off $22k off that $63k, and you're left with $41k in funding.

          I have a bit more difficulty with including cost-of-living expenses like rent and food, car, gas and auto-insurance or even cell phone expenses as one poster mentioned. After all, you have to eat, you have to live somewhere, whether you go to school or not, so that cost--while very real--isn't necessitated by the fact that one chooses to go to college. (I do acknowledge that R&B costs at unviersities are high. You'll save money on rent by living on campus but I doubt that food will cost as much as a university charges, but then again, there are workers preparing those meals for you).

          I am of two minds on this diary. I am appalled at the federal gov'ts lack of support for education. on the other hand, I still think higher ed. presents a decent value at the public level, and I do think it's within the reach of students.

          One thing we have to watch out for. We need to insist on more government support rather than griping about containing tuition. if we insist on containing tuition, then the onus turns on the schools themselves, and there's not much fat in a university budget. The best way for schools to limit tuition is to cut academic departments, refuse to renew faculty lines, and to stop giving grants-in-aid.

          The net result will be a dumbing down of higher education in America, with less people going to school than ever before. Tuition costs will be contained, but I would argue that you will be getting less for your money.

          "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

          by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:09:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  first, appologies (none)
            if i came off as harsh; that wasn't my intention.  

            I think that room and board are extremely valid expenses to consider.  If i work full time, i can afford to live my life.  If i cut back, even a little, I'm suddenly faced with spending more than i take in, which is where loans come into play.  

            Right now, i work 30 hours a week and take classes full time.  I have a 3.5 gpa (too low for merit-based awards) and am the president of my honors society.  I'm extremely fortunate in that school comes easy for me - i seldom have to read the books in order to do well in a course.  However, i seldom have the free time necessary to enjoy my classes, or to think about the materials presented in any meaningful way.  The kids who get to go to school full time and work little, if at all, are the kids who really have the opportunity to get a real education, not just cycle through the classes in an effort to get done with school.  

            also, one last note: the amount of aid money a person qualifies for, and the amount they actually receive tends to vary widely.  Last year, I qualified for $13k in aid.  I received $5k.  I had to make up the difference in unsubsidized loans, and, one of those loans was counted as "income" by the school, which lowered the amount of unsubsidized funding available to me.  

            "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

            by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 01:01:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No apologies necessary. (none)
              I think you are a bit different from the typical student. 30 hours a week plus classes is a labor. I know it is.

              I am trying to imagine a very poor student going to university and working no more than 12 hours a week (that's a work-study figure). Living expenses have to be factored in but we can't lose sight of what they actually are. A roof over our heads and the food we eat. These are necessities no matter if we're in college or not, so I try to extract a lot of the R&B cost from the equation. Now, I know that 10-12k of living costs is a lot more than what it would take to feed and house a child living at home. It's probably a little less than what it would take to feed & house an adult living in a city, however.

              In the original post, I did say these are real expenses and they have to be considered. However, they should not be counted as costs of attending college. If you weren't in school, then you would still be bearing these costs.

              In a real sense, you're right. It's incredibly difficult to budget for an education when you work 30 hours a week.

              As for how much aid we qualify for, I tried to write on this in greater depth above, when I explained the sliding scale that universities use. Strictly speaking, loans are considered aid, so every university is going to count any external funding against your total package. That's why when I began my reply here, I did not even mention a grant-in-aid because I just assumed that many state institutions would not be providing them. I was only considering pell grants, student loans and SEOGs as sources of financial aid.

              I lived for 8 years on 8k while attending school (I had tuition remission) so I went through that drill. It was not fun at all.

              "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

              by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 01:26:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i think i failed to make my point (none)
                r&b have to be paid no matter what.  I can pay my r&b when i work 40 hours a week.  If i reduce the hours i work in order to go to school, then i MUST come up with that differential somewhere.  Thus, when i apply for loans, i have to take that 25% pay cut (30 hours vs. 40 hours) plus the tuition and book expenses into account.  

                If i wanted to live on campus with 3 roommates in a very small room, I could cut almost $500 per month in living expenses.  However, the cut in quality of life would be so dramatic as to make the savings seem paltry at best.  I also recognize that at my age, my acceptable level of  quality of life is significantly higher than that of an 18 year-old.  

                either way, I think we both agree that we're facing a bit of an education crisis in this country.  I've enjoyed these threads immensely, and i'm glad to see them gaining so much attention.

                "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

                by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 02:23:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  How about the cost of books and the scandalous (none)
    nonsense of "new" editions that have, at best, superficial changes but allow the publisher to sell new books at higher and higher list prices and enable college bookstores to refuse to buy back used books.  

    This is happening at a time when students and families are more and more strapped.  It's shabby and universities are complicit when they permit faculty to require texts in these circumstances.  

    •  Blame the university, not the faculty. (none)
      This all started when B&N came in and took over bookstores. They gave so much less $$ for buybacks, and then they charged obscene prices for used books. The new edition thing is a whole other problem. B&N student bookstores are a scam, but that cost does defray some of the university expenses.

      I am bombarded with emails every semester that beg me to put my book orders in early. Why? So B&N can buy the books back for a pittance and mark them up 500%.

      I refuse to do that.

      "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

      by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:36:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK. I have no idea how these deals (none)
        are structured.  But they're hitting students -- many of whom are mortgaging their futures just to get through school -- when the students are REQUIRED to buy specific books.  

        Where are the college and mainstream press?  Where are the alliances that can put a stop to this shameful fleecing of the next generation?  

        If it's B&N let's get that information out because I'm sure there are a lot of parents buying their own books and periodicals who would prefer NOT to be supporting the entities who are trying to squeeze blood from stones.  

        •  You have to check into the student run (none)
          bookstore at the university you go to/send your kids to. If they are B&N, you are certainly contributing to their corporate profits. In the case of used books, that money is not going to publishers or authors. It's going straight to B&N.

          Many students are savvy enough these days to buy their books from places other than the student bookstore. Near many college campuses, you also have competitiors who will only mark up books by 50-60%.

          "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

          by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:49:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But that doesn't address the issue of these (none)
            "new" editions.  As soon as the publisher puts out a "new" addition with two more recent illustrations but no substantial differences in the text, bookstores -- on or off campus -- are either reluctant to buy back books or buy them back for pennies on the dollar.  

            Meanwhile, both my daughter and I use online direct vendors as often as possible, but required text lists that come out late make it difficult to ensure timely delivery.  

            The bottom line is, it's not a question of how savvy people can be in circumventing the greedy publishers but why they are able to operate in such a sleazy manner with impunity.  

            •  It's not the publishers who are greedy (none)
              It's the bookstores. The publishers are putting out product. The same way Microsoft does. The professors are not requiring the latest editions. The bookstores are the ones looking at the profit margins.

              Again, a local independent bookstore will often compete with the campus bookstore.

              "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

              by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 02:07:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  my macro economics book (none)
      was $120 last quarter.  They bought it back for $20 and resold it for $82.  I have already been advised that a "new" edition will be out for fall, so the kids who bought it for $82 will get zero back.  It's common to spend upwards of $100 per class for books, which equates, for me, to $300+ per quarter, for four quarters a year.  

      "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

      by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:40:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  HEA Drug Provision (4.00)
    One thing we really need to get behind is the elimination of the HEA drug provision, which often prevents students from getting federal financial aid if they've been convicted of any drug offense in the past (regardless of whether they've done their time, etc., or even if it was a minor pot bust when they were younger). This provision targets the poor, and is actually counter-productive, as it means that those who have made mistakes are less able to work toward a positive future.

    Here's a good OpEd about this provision from Ruth Blauer, executive director of the Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs, which includes the line: "The drug provision is not a deterrent to drug use; it's a deterrent to recovery."

    And for those like Mark Souder who say that financial aid shouldn't go to those who are wasting their education by doing drugs, there's a much better system already in place -- if your grades drop, you lose your aid. No need to penalize those who want to better themselves.

    Here's a place where you can contact your Congressman about it.
  •  basic education (4.00)
    I have to agree with an earlier posting that the k-12 system of education has become greatly debased. The high school graduates of other advanced western countries are much better educated than many of our college graduates. We could learn a great deal by studying and emulating others instead of continuing to rip apart basic public education with voucher and charter schemes.

    Solidly educated these days requires high school students to have thorough grounding in math and logic, languages and media communication, the sciences, and basic electrical, mechanical, and software engineering. They now emerge with little to none of such basic skills, such 'advanced' topics, neccessary to a citizen of today's world, now being deferred until college or into the indefinite future.

    George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

    by mbryan on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:27:22 AM PDT

    •  good point (none)
      I am relatviely familiar witht he German education system and am greatly impressed by it...

      first... there are various forms of high schools... there are trade schools (but not like here in the US) these school prepapre students for btoh white and blue collar jobs... and there are prep schools or the Gymnasium (Gum-nas-i-um) Gymnasium school teach to essentially what is the equivillent of a junior year of college in the US.

      Gymnasium students take a standardized test called the Abitur, which after passing the go to state sponsored University. The University system is far more advanced than in the US... in fact it is the basis for the US graduate system...

      A similar model would be interesting in the US... but may be more difficult to handle on a larger scale like this... especially with a such strong oppostition to public education....

      •  Not as big as it seems. (none)
        "A similar model would be interesting in the US... but may be more difficult to handle on a larger scale like this... especially with a such strong oppostition to public education...."

        There is really very little federal involvement (except the NCLB which some states are choosing to voluntarily opt out of), in K-12 education.  Sure there are some grants, but overall it is negligible and targetted (e.g. special ed).

        Also, there really isn't even a lot of national pressure for uniformity for non-college bound students, and most people would agree that college bound students are reasonably well served in our existing system.  They are tracked into the best college prep course, and once arriving in college often are well enough prepared for it.

        But, for the rest, you don't have to change the whole nation.  An Arkansas or a South Dakota or a Wyoming or a New Mexico or a Rhode Island or an Alaska or a Hawaii would be well positioned to undertake a pretty radical change.  Indeed, I'd suspect that I smaller state which has some sense of economic distress or isolation from the rest of the nation would be the best test bed.  And, if it is a smashing success in Rhode Island or Wyoming or whatever, it could be copied elsewhere.

        In a similar vein, Maryland made a huge move to adopt a single statewide EMS system, rather than handling it at the local government level as had been done traditionally.  And, while no other state to my knowledge has actually gone that far, spinoffs from that project, like the notion of a Level I Trauma Center, have been widely replicated nationally.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

        by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:02:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What's even worse is ... (none)
    that you can get the same texts from Indian websites for one-tenth the price.

    Various college entrepreneurs have been making money by ordering in bulk from India and underselling the college bookstores. It's the American way ...

  •  Tuition costs tops Bush damage to voters (none)
    informal survey by Common Ground Common Sense:

    How have YOU been hurt by Bush's policies?

    Do NOT list experiences you EXPECT you will experience in the future, list tangible experiences you or your loved ones or friends have experienced directly as a result of Bush policies.

    A lot of the answers were like this:

    We have been hurt by the large increase in college costs. We had saved what we thought was enough money to pay for most of a state university education for each of our three children. But then the ceiling on the tuition was removed by our state and we have been struggling ever since

    Other top complaints are outsourcing, shitty economy

    When morality is only about sex, no aspect of war - even the killing of entire families - can arouse criticism, much less condemnation.

    by lawnorder on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:34:03 AM PDT

  •  Getting Business on Board (none)
    This issue should be a no-brainer to businesses, big and small.

    A well-educated, affluent workforce has more disposable income to spend on the goods and services businesses provide. Business should be one of the strongest proponents of funding to public education.

    If the business community cannot come to understand this themselves, we should make the case to them and bring them to our side. Like universal healthcare, education is an issue which benefits Business.

  •  A question which isn't being addressed fully (none)
    is why are college costs going up at the level they are.

    This is only part of the problem, but it does play a role.  And it is not just due to states having less money to subsidize the education as private school costs are also increasing faster than most costs.

    This may stir a hornet's nest here, but I see two possible culprits.

    One is related to health care.  Particularly in state institutions, but also possibly in private universities, the school has born almost the full cost of health insurance for its employees.

    I have seen many battles with the unionized professors and other staff where the school is trying to have them pay a portion of their insurance, basically like the rest of us.

    This may sound like a mionor issues, but if you look at even a small school, if the school saved say $100 per month by having the employee pay that toward their insurnace, it could assist in some of the financial hardships the schools face.

    Secondly, I think too many schools try to be too much to too many.  Many school have so many programs, that it is difficult to support them all without raising tuition.  Again, to bring in health care, when several hospitals in the same area have the same high tech equipment to perform certain procedures, they have to charge money to afford that equipment.

    Some studies, specially in state school systems, could be centered in different schools, so that the overall cost of supporting a specific program decreases.

    I know this is somewhat disjointed.  In my mind what i am saying is perfectly clear and logical, but what my fingers do on the keyboard is sometimes out of my control.

    Anyway, a good approach would be to look at both sides of the equation:

    1.  Find a means of allowing those who want to go to college to do so without amassing major debt, and

    2.  Look at those factors within the system that can be worked on to reduce the overall cost.

    Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

    by JAPA21 on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:39:01 AM PDT

    •  I think you're missing some things (none)
      Couple of responses:
      1. Regarding the health care issue -- that's clearly an increase in cost everywhere, and education is no exception. Many states, like Illinois, are looking at reducing benefits for new people coming into the university system. That may reduce costs, but it's also likely to reduce quality long-term, something I'm not willing to accept.
      2. Reduction of state support is a huge part of it for public schools. My university has seen a reduction over the past 20 years or so from the state covering 60% of the cost to the state covering 30% of the cost.
      3. Reducing redundant programs in the state -- this is done all the time. We are constantly being asked to justify our programs in terms of numbers of students, credit hour generation, duplication within the state, etc.
      Really, the issue goes more to the economics of labor and the ability to reduce costs through mass production and technology.

      Because so much of our economy today works on reducing costs through mass production and technology, those industries (health care, education, arts, etc.) that can't take advantage of such techniques end up costing more.

      Education is hugely labor intensive.

      In many industries, computers have allowed businesses to save money on employees, etc. Let's take a look at the impact that computers has had on Higher Education:

      • Now you have to have the capacity train students in every aspect of computers from high end engineering and cad to graphic arts, to IT, to midi, and so on. This means an incredible amount of specialized equipment and software
      • You have to have people to maintain and fix this diverse range of equipment and software.
      • You have to have people to teach all these things, and you've got to help them get trained so that they can teach.
      • You can't teach this kind of thing in a 300-person lecture hall, so you have to have specialized spaces
      • Everything goes obsolete in 6 months and if you're not on top of it, your students graduate unprepared for what they'll face in the real world.
      So technology, in this case, made the "business" of education much more expensive, not more efficient.

      The same is true in other areas.

      To some extent, we just have to face the fact that education is expensive, and if we value it in society, we have to give it a priority.
      •  Excellent points (none)
        And my comment was more in the sense of just looking at both sides of the equation.

        I hardly consider myself an expert, or even barely knowledgable in education costs.

        Education is expensive, and there are some valid reasons why.  It appears you are in the field, so I bow to your experience in the area.

        The question still remains, is there anything that can, without jeopardizing quality, be done to reduce the cost of producing a quality education?  And I am not talking about the student's cost, but rather the "production" costs.

        Bush, so incompetent, he can't even do the wrong things right.

        by JAPA21 on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:05:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  you would hope that the federal gov't (none)
        and business would band together and solve the problems of higher education. We are the training ground for their future workers, after all.

        "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

        by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:15:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's happening, but needs more... (none)
          At least business is ocassionally getting involved. At my university, State Farm and Caterpillar gave huge amounts of money to help build a new business building. They both depend on getting highly-trained business workers in central Illinois, and realize that the investment in local higher education will pay off for them in the long term.

          But you're right, we need more of this kind of thing at both the state and federal level.
          •  I remember when I was working in the 60's that (none)
            businesses (IBM) would pay your tuition at night, or partially pay your tuition.  This was when corporations were benign and before the door opened to world trade.  
            When I graduated high school in 1956, there were no college loans and no state help at all.  I went to night school for years and years while I was working and raising a child.  When I retired, I finished school ( I have two more classes for my bachelors).  I don't take loans or help of any kind.  I hope to get a masters just for the sake of learning.  

            I was so happy to see loans and grants opening up to young people who wanted to go to school and now I see it's being taken away.  It makes me furious - I repeat furious - to read your posts because you don't know about that short period when a college education was available to practically everyone.  Perhaps you have spoken to some of the boomers -- I wish you all luck and yes, this issue must be a Dem issue.  Why aren't our senators, reps pounding on this?  

            The beneficiaries are likely to be...large corporations and development firms. (O'Connor, J. dissenting in Kelo). God bless you, J. O'Connor.

            by xanthe on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 12:29:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Some more costs (none)
      I agree totally. Just to expand a bit on what you are saying. My dad went to college in the 1950s, I went in the 1990s. We both got a pretty good education, but his tuition was about HALF mine, after adjusting for inflation. And this was a private University, so states cutting funding was NOT the primary reason. Here are some of the reasons why:

      1. Lawsuits. In 1950, medical schools didn't have to pay incredibly high insurance rates to cover their programs (driven up by the rise of jackpot lawsuits). This is a separate issue from the employee health insurance you mention, although they are related.

      2. Lots of buildings. Unlike 1950, most Universities have lots of cultural centers (hispanic cultural center, woman's studies center, etc). I'm not saying these subjects should be ignored, but why a whole separate building and full staff is justified? They certainly didn't get many visitors.

      3. Equipment. In the 90s, Universities went haywire buying computer equipment for students. This is great to have, but maybe it should have been done more modestly. With so many computers, you set up a network, hire a full time staff, have to maintain the system, deal with viruses, etc. etc. Its especially expensive when you keep swapping out obsolete computers after a couple years.

      4. The Nanny culture. In 1950, the students could do what they wanted, got drunk on campus, or whatever. There were no safeguards for students against themselves. Now colleges often act like a parent, ban alcohol, and spend a lot of time policing the fraternities, as well as offer more health plans, more provisions for handicapped/mentally ill/pregnant students, married students, etc. etc. Once again, these all have noble intentions, but I felt like it was going too far. It should be more of the state's role to provide public welfare, not the University. The University was not intended to be a social service organization.

      And to those who think that tuition is going up mainly because states are cutting their funds; how do you explain the fact that private college tuitions are skyrocketing as well?
      •  Mostly wrong. (none)
        Lawsuits are not an important factor in college costs, state schools are well equipped to fight them because they have immunity from many kinds of lawsuits and in most cases limits on recoveries, and employment lawsuits are the dominant type of litigation facing educational insitutions.

        Most higher educational institutions fund much of their buildings with major charitable donations and grants.  Buildings have only a modest impact on tuition.  Colleges typically have excellent credit ratings and often can issue tax exempt bonds and so also get excellent financing.

        Equipment costs are falling, not rising.  For example, in the early 1980s, my father bought a TRS 80 clone for $2,500 for his university department.  Now, for $400 (the university already has plenty of perfectly servicable monitors) his department can buy a far more capable computer.

        Student services is a tiny fraction of the university budget.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

        by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:21:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think you are partly right (none)
      I remember once when I was in law school an article came out that detailed the salaries of the faculty.  When I did a quick calculation of the total salary compared to what the total tuition of the student body, it was a fairly low percentage.  The school was a non-profit, and also had a generous alumni, AND received a lot of grants towards various projects.  So, I concluded that somewhere there were some really big non-salary costs.

      The problem is, as long as students can access loans, the schools really have very little incentive to control tuition below the level that the students can borrow (at least in a law school, where they can hype the six figure incomes that you'll be making).  Sometimes, it seems to me that the best thing would be if the government stopped subsidizing the loans, just to see if that doesn't lower the tuition.  Make the unsubsidized portion subject to bankruptcy as well, maybe require a decent interval- I'm out seven years and I haven't dented my loans, and I know of several classmates in the same position.

      Seems like a problem that needs solving, just don't know that their is any constituency out there looking to solve it.

      A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

      by JakeC on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:00:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think there is room to ask why costs are going (none)
      up and it is also appropriate to note that it isn't all a matter of state funding levels.  Certainly state funding levels are an issue in some places -- Colorado, which has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from higher education budgets comes to mind -- but it isn't the only one.  Private college and university costs are rising as well.

      It is also worth noting that percentages aren't necessarily the best measure.  California, for example, has historically had extremely low tuititon at its higher education institutions.  Many other states have not.  Going from say $1,000 a year to $1,600 a year is less significant for most students than going from $6,000 a year to $7,800 a year, even though the percentage change is half as much.

      I think that if you want to boil down the problem, the cost of goods and unskilled services in this country has actually been falling or breaking even (in part due to offshoring and immigration, as well as improved technology), while the cost of skilled services has not because there are few alternatives for skilled services.  Health care and education, two of the biggest budget squeezes in our economy right now, both have skilled services as the predominant source of costs.

      Notably, those sectors of our economy like health care and education, which do have large, hard to reduce skilled service labor forces are heavily government dominated.

      Immigration restictions from 9-11 have put big burdens on one of the factors that have been a major boost to graduate education and high level health care in particular.  The number of foreign students coming to the U.S. (and paying full freight in many cases, effectively subsidizing everyone else) has dropped significantly since immigration limitations have dropped away, and foreign patients from Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, who were once a big part of the patient base at places like Mayo Clinic in Rochester are also far more scarce now.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

      by ohwilleke on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:15:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Welp (none)
    I'm 21, work one full time job after three years of looking for one. It's a retail job. They treat me well, but I have to keep my availability open, so basically I can't go to school full-time.

    Okay, well that's all an excuse. I could quit my job and lose my benefits right and go to school right?

    Nope. My mom doesn't make enough, even if I were to lie on my FAFSA and say that she was the only parent supporting me. And you might ask "Well how come you live on your own, you're age 21, and you haven't lived with your parents for three years, how come you're not 'independent' in the eyes of the state...?"

    That's simple. I won't be clear of my 'dependence' on Mom and Dad (And be clear, they can't file me as a dependent on their taxes either) Until I turn age 23. 23! Christ by then, you've either found a decent enough job and you have no desire to go to school, or worse, you've lost the willpower to go to school.

    I have to wonder what stupid fucking politician set this system up. It helps no-one. If you're rich, you can go to school. If you're DIRT-FUCKING-POOR you can go to school... but if either of your parents already has a degree, and makes even half-way decent money... You're screwed.

    I'm depressed beyond belief about this stuff. I wish I could find a way out of it all.

    •  Well I was "dirt fucking poor" (none)
      and I didn't get a free ride like most people thought. Without going into much detail I lost my mother my freshman year (leaving me an oprhan) while I was attending a private liberal arts college in PA. So on my FAFSA forms I wrote "0" in most of the income boxes. The college financial aid office went out of their way for me and gave me scholarships and grants, but I still had to take out loans--quite a ton of loans. So it wasn't the "free ride" many people thought it was.

      When I was in school some people would often tell me that "it must be great having the govenrment pay for your education". One person once said that "they [the college] needed people like him [those paying full tuition] so that people like me [those receiving significant financial aid] could attend".

      I got so offended would get so offended because it was like those people were implying that I was getting welfare or something. I would tell these people that it was hardly a "free ride".

      If you are "dirt poor" you can get more grants and scholarships, but it is hardly free. You still have to take out loans. You still have to pay for out of pocket expenses. So being dirt poor is not as great as you make it out to be.

      •  Strictly speaking they were correct (none)
        although they were asses for bluntly stating it.

        It is true however that a lot of the rise in tuition can be traced back to increased costs of grants-in-aid. I don't think anyone should be embarrassed by this. It typically means that you are more deserving of being at that school. It's easier to get into a good school these days if you have 100% of the means to pay for it. If you don't, then you are in competition with other well-deserving students who are chasing scholarships.

        So, the affluent student might have said to you, "the university needs medicore affluent students like me so that smart deserving students like you can come to this school."

        I, like you, came from a poor family. My parents were immigrants. I have a ton of loans right now, having met 75% of my tuition needs with scholarships. But when I ask myself if the loans were worth it, I absolutely think they were.

        Things look bleak when you aren't employed in the field you want to be in, and you don't have a great income. I know, I've been there. But once you land a good job (I still don't make 50k) you may have a different perspective on student loans.

        "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

        by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:12:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am lucky that the loans (none)
          were there even though I have a ton of them. I live in DC and make a salary in the upper 30's. After taxes I barely take home a little more than $2200 a month. I have had to put some of my loans into an economic hardship deferment. I have about a year and a half left before I exhaust my deferments and it scares me.

          I love what I do, the job is in my field; but I need to make more money somehow. I've thought of getting a weekend job, but the income would push me into a higher tax bracket; and, once I took out the taxes, the amount of extra money would be so small that it really wasn't worth the effort.

          So it does scare me. The loans are worth it. I agree with you. My one mistake is going to get my MA straight out of college. I should have worked for a few years.

          I say that because when I started looking for work after garduate school I ran into this problem. Entry-level jobs were out of the question for me because they paid too little and "I was overqualified" (so said several people I interviewed with). I couldn't get mid level jobs either because "I didn't have enough experience". So that left me in catch-22. I could not start anywhere because employers thought I would leave any entry level job for something better once I found something; and other employers would not consider me for mid-level jobs because I didn't have the necessary work experience either.

          Well as for those comments they may correct in some respects, but not others. Many of the federal grants I received came out of taxes I paid. Many of loan programs were out of my taxes too. However, you are right that they did probably subsidize part of my education.

          What bothered me was the mentality that somehow they automatically deserved my respect or that the college should treat them better. They were fortunate enough to come from well-off families that could afford to pay the entire tuition. They should have really considered themselves lucky that they were able to pay that amount.

          •  The masters degree is something to think (none)
            twice about. At my university, we do not fund masters students. I'm at a private university. I would not be able to convince some of my students that it is worth it. We do fund all our PhDs.

            On the other hand, I also went for a masters degree but i was fully funded by the university (Penn State funds all its masters students except for those in pre-professional programs such as law and medicine).

            If I were to advise a family member on paying for a masters degree, I would ask them to think twice.

            "If cows and horses had hands, they would depict their gods as cows and horses." Xenophanes

            by upstate NY on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:39:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well (none)
              It depends what field you are in. I do consulting releated to defense/homeland security. A lot of the consulting firms here in the DC--like Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC--are increasingly requiring that even their entry-level employees hold Master's degrees. Some of them still take people with BA's; but, from what I've seen, to really get a good job with those firms, you need to have a Master's.
            •  that's why (none)
              i'm applying to phd programs instead of masters programs - longer commitment, but less financial burden, in the long run.  (i'm fortunate to be in a field where i can go straight from bachelors to phd.)

              "Love, love, love. All you need is love." - Lennon/McCartney

              by lapolitichick on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:47:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Well I was "dirt fucking poor" (none)
      and I didn't get a free ride like most people thought. Without going into much detail I lost my mother my freshman year (leaving me an oprhan) while I was attending a private liberal arts college in PA. So on my FAFSA forms I wrote "0" in most of the income boxes. The college financial aid office went out of their way for me and gave me scholarships and grants, but I still had to take out loans--quite a ton of loans. So it wasn't the "free ride" many people thought it was.

      When I was in school some people would often tell me that "it must be great having the govenrment pay for your education". One person once said that "they [the college] needed people like him [those paying full tuition] so that people like me [those receiving significant financial aid] could attend".

      I got so offended would get so offended because it was like those people were implying that I was getting welfare or something. I would tell these people that it was hardly a "free ride".

      If you are "dirt poor" you can get more grants and scholarships, but it is hardly free. You still have to take out loans. You still have to pay for out of pocket expenses. So being dirt poor is not as great as you make it out to be.

    •  No free ride (none)
      As a single mom I worked my way through a BS and an MS accumulating over 50K in school loans. Two years ago (one year after finishing school) I got a job that allowed me to meet all my payments.  Now my son is entering college and he is ineligable for anything but loans because of my income.  I pay more in student loans than I do for my mortgage and the loans will take longer to pay off.  yeah, this is the american dream....debt forever....
    •  Check with your school's aid office (none)
      The school's FAO can exercise "professional judgment" to shift your dependency status.  From what you've outlined, you seem to fit the basic requirements. Policies vary school to school, but ask about dependency override. Even if they say no, you're no worse off than you are now.

      "I don't bear a grudge. I have no surviving enemies."

      by usagi on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 11:19:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree but... (none)
    is college education always the key to improving one's wages and employment prospects?  I realize that education is often used as a proxy for productivity.  Still, I wonder if most who go to college already had the solid educational foundation and the personal motivation to do well in their future job anyway.  That being said, tution assistance is clearly necessary as the gap between those who can afford higher education adn those who cannot is widening.

    "If you want to go backwards, you put it in 'R,' and if you want to go forward, you put it in 'D'" -- Sen. Tom Harkin

    by eherrnst on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 09:48:10 AM PDT

  •  seen this coming a looong time (none)
    I'm one of those people you mention in the summary. Got a PhD in 1988, but ran up a 35,000 debt doing it (and I shouldn't complain, as I know others who came later who owe 6 figures!!)...and couldn't afford the payments on the 10 year loan when it came due, so opted to take longer (20 years)...but have now paid about 330 a month for 17 years...I will have paid more than twice the amount for my loan, once I finally pay it off. I was glad for the help, but also felt it to be a bitter pill, that because I chose a line of work that helped poor and very ill people get their feet on the ground, I was thus relegated to just being able to pay bills and not save, while a bank makes a ton of money off my back. I have strong feelings that our society should be helping the young move into good careers that can help society, because it is our future too, and it saddens me to see people's lives being blocked by the high costs. ain't right...
  •  First-hand here: (none)
    When I started attending UCF (2002, technically), I paid roughly $80 per credit hour. Since then, I've seen it climb $20 to just over $100/hr.

    Combine that with the lack of summer coverage by the Bright Futures scholarship, forced payment (they're considering billing all undergrad students for 15 hours, regardless of courseload, unless they take more than 15 hours) for hours never enrolled, smaller and smaller grant/scholarship amounts, and things seem bleak.

    I'm 21 and currently ~$11,000 deep in student loans. I still have roughly a year to go until I graduate. Then I start law school.

    Religious conservatives are motivated by the suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun. - Badtux @ K5

    by BullitNutz on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:19:03 AM PDT

  •  Amen to this (none)
    Two years out of school, and only now am I truly realizing just how much the cost of college is making it difficult for me to live. Over 1/4 of my take-home each month goes directly to student loan payments, because I went to a school (admittedly, yes, it was private) whose tuition jumped from $23,000/year for my freshman year to $31,000/year for my senior year.

    Not to mention I now live in the state with the most outrageous in-state tuition of any public school - nearly $20,000/year for undergrads.

    This has to stop. Can you imagine the cost of college when I have children, 25 or 30 years down the road? It will only be affordable to the most elite. Already that's the case at many private colleges.

    Truth is my anti-Bush.

    by theantibush on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:30:38 AM PDT

  •  Need to change the college=income link (none)
    Even in today's "new economy," most of the jobs (even ones that requires high skill levels) do not really require a good deal of the subject matter that's taught as part of a typical college degree program.  What we really need to do is to sever link between the "need" for a college degree and work that pays enough to allow a decent lifestyle.

    The law of supply and demand has not been rescinded.  The number glittering prizes of really high level jobs is limited.  Most of us, white or black, male or female, Anglo or Latino, straight or gay, have to accept that we will likely remain below the glass ceiling, unless we are really talented, hve spectacular social skills, or have the right connections. So what's the point go going into debt for 10's of thousands of dollars (maybe even 100s of thousands for a name-brand school) for a degree that might, at best leave you as a dissatisfied desk jockey working long hours at a boring job and at constant threat of being outsourced in favor of Third-World labor making even less than you.

    My advice to my kids is this:  

    1) If you're college board scores/grades, ect. are in the upper quartile, then you're probably personally suited for academic scholarship, and you should consider applying for college.  

    2)If not, learn as many basic vocational skills (including manual ones) as you can, and consider a career in the trades.  (getting into that is a subject of a whole different posting.)  

    1. If you go to college, don't take a vocational course of study at your own expense (i,e, IT, business, even medicine or law) unless, of course, your heart is really set on being a doctor, lawyer, computer whiz, etc.) without some guarantee that you will be able to start a decent career in that field.  Which means, don't botehr.  Better to get a BA or BS in one the traditional arts and sciences and learn critical thinking skills, writing, etc.  Even if you eventually end up working in the trades, your life will be enriched incredibly.

    2. In today's world and the world of the forseable future, you want to avoid being a corporate drone or even work for government or an entrepeneur. Sure, you might have to work for them for a few years to get started, but to ensure your freedom, you need to figure out how you can make a living working for yourself.  Learning how to sell ones self is probably the most important work skill that everyone will need, and that's something they don't teach in college.  (And you shouldn't have to spend 4 years and go into debt for $50-100,000 to learn it.)

    3. Whatever kind of work you end up doing, live below your means and save money.  Minimize (or eliminate) your debt.  Opt out of the Corporate Culture of Consumption.  This might mean that your "standard of living" might be lower than you were used to as a child, but believe me, it is the key to true freedom, the freedom to take a hike when a boss or client or customer starts making unreasonable demands.  There's no reason anyone should be forced to endure misery at their work just becuase they need to have a roof over their herad and food at their table.

    4. Buy some land and become a subsistemnce farmer.  Again, most important, stay out of debt.

    Now these suggestions actually frighten me a bit.  I'm not sure how well I would have been able to suceed with them back when I was starting out 30 years ago.  The world was a different place.  Being a corporate drone wasn't such a bad thing, there were more opportunities, more room to make mistakes. Going to college was a lot cheaper, so if you went by mistake, it didn't hurt as much.

    I have great sympathy for young people today.  I don't think there's any magic sector of the economy or job category that has a high probability of a earning a decent living.  Sucess seems to rely skill in the most obnoxious practices of self-promotion, and if you lack those skills, there's no consolation prize of a decent, if unexciting, job that pays the bills and provides economic security.

    Local Stores, local schools, local work

    by Menachem Mavet on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:49:20 AM PDT

    •  Tell it to their parents (none)
      At 17 and 18, most applicants' desires are run by their parents.  There are a few kids who know just what they want to do; most haven't any idea (and please don't think I think that's wrong!  Who can predict their life at 17?), and their parents are the driving force.

      And Mommy and Daddy who live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood would rather bleed from the eyes than admit that their child isn't going to college.  It has very little to do with the benefits for the child; it has a lot more to do with what college Buffy next door will be attending.

      I think you're right.  But I've sat in interviews with - to be frank - knuckle-draggers and their parents enough to wonder how we'll ever, ever get it across.

      "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

      by escapee on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 04:16:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll put my loans up against anyone's (4.00)
    College, law school, and business school.  Then, underemployed for two plus years, which led to deferments and payment levels that weren't even enough to pay the interest every month.

    Now, I make payments every month equal to HALF my take home pay, and that's not really denting the principle.  And, because I refinanced the loans years ago, I can't get a better rate either.

    So, in a nutshell, if anyone would (1) allow a multiple refinancing of loans and (2) make all student loan debt tax deductible I would quit my job and go out and work to get them elected, be they Democrat, Republican, Communist, or Fascist.  I can be bought and sold.

    A flame rescued from dry wood has no weight in it's luminous flight yet lifts the heavy lid of night.

    by JakeC on Wed Jul 06, 2005 at 10:50:05 AM PDT

  •  The other side of loans (none)
    Don't forget the other impact of being in debt when one comes out of school.  You feel yourself forced to get as high paying a job as possible in order to pay off your loans, often sacraficing either your ideals, your interests, your location, family ties, relationships, or many other things in the process so you can get the highest paying job possible.

    In law school I think this effect is most pronounced.  I'm going to be graduating with about 100k in loans when I come out of law school.  That kind of debt basically forces me to go into some type of corporate law or at least into a big firm in order to make sure I'm not paying it off for the next three decades.

    Compare the amount of people coming into a law school who state they would like to work for some sort of public interest to the amount of people who actually do end up going to work for the public good.  It's frightening.  Debt forces us to compromise our ideals to make sure that the rest of our lives are as debt free as possible.

  •  It's extremeley bad here in California (none)
    I heard that the tuitions for UC schools have risen at a rate as a high as one third per year.  I have friends who got into schools such as USC, MIT, Yale and other extremeley hard to get into schools but instead went to a UC because of how much more affordable they are (and most UCs will provide just as good of an education as the other schools that my friends got in to, my friend who got in to MIT and Yale is now at Berkeley, which I consider just as good).  They thought they were getting a great deal in terms of costs but then the budget crisis happened and the Republicans refused to raise taxes, education has been disproportionately taking losses.  What really angers me is that the Republicans feel that during a fiscal emergency it is perfectly reasonable for those least able to afford hardships to be asked to endure the brunt in order to prevent the best off from feeling any squeeze.
  •  apples and oranges (none)
    I'm not sure, but I believe the OECD tracks "attainment" - the percentage of people completing university.  
    And we are not #1 and have not been for years.

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