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student debt

We knew the moment when American student loan debt would exceed $1 trillion was close. But it came more quickly than expected, with the $1 trillion mark passed several months ago. Student loan debt is increasing as more people go to college, as college tuitions rise quickly, and as high unemployment leads people struggling to find work to fall behind on their payments.

This can have a ripple effect through the economy:

Rohit Chopra, student-loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said student debt could ultimately slow the recovery of the housing market. "First-time home-buyers are a substantial part of the housing market," Mr. Chopra said in a speech at the banking conference in Austin. "Instead of saving for a down payment, these borrowers are sending big payments every month."
It's a major catch-22: people without college degrees are suffering in the labor market, facing higher unemployment and lower wages. But people who graduate with a lot of debt face employment and life choices constrained by that debt. Republicans are determined to make that worse; Republican House budget architect Paul Ryan, for instance, calls Pell grants "unsustainable," arguing that students should work three jobs to get through college. Part-time college students, though, face abysmal graduation rates. Many state legislatures, especially but not solely ones controlled by Republicans, have made deep cuts to funding for public higher education, forcing tuition ever higher. President Obama has taken the modest steps to alleviate student loan burdens that are available to him without Congress taking action. But what's needed is government support to make public higher education free, or at least so cheap it's genuinely affordable for everyone.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  College is currently pretty affordable. (10+ / 0-)

    There are community colleges in every part of the country. They charge low tuition, and do not require $50k - $100k in debt.

    But they do not have Football Stadiums, Fancy Dorms, 100-year-old cathedrals, or 200-year-old Traditions.

    Community colleges do unfashionable things like teach Calculus, Computer Programming, Writing, and History.

    The problem is that 4-year colleges and universities are no longer selling knowledge. They are selling class. People purchase an expensive degree because they believe (perhaps correctly) that this will make them a member of the Upper Middle Class.

    Since, by definition, there can only be so many members of the upper 10%, the prices have been bid up beyond reason.

    If people want to waste their money on a high-status degree, that is fine. But why should taxpayers be asked to subsidize it?

    Let's make Federal student loans available only at those institutions that control costs. No more subsidized Football Stadiums!

    •  I don't agree with you often (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geekesque, sebastianguy99

      but this is a succinct statement of the problem.

      Note, however, that taxpayers do not currently subsidize higher education operations.

      It's pretty much all tuition these days.

      It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

      by sayitaintso on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:58:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The 3 Iowa state colleges each get millions from (0+ / 0-)

        the state government.  While what they get from the gov't doesn't pay everything, it's not something to sneeze at.

        •  Republican cuts are killing Iowa. (0+ / 0-)

          They just eliminated 50 majors at UNI. True, all the regents universities could stand to cut administrative bloat. But administrators decide how the budget cuts will be handled so that's not how it happens.

          Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

          by play jurist on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:34:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  sayitanitso - I don't believe you (0+ / 0-)

        Do you have any data for the statement "taxpayers do not currently subsidize higher education operations. It's pretty much all tuition these days"?  I don't have complete knowledge, but personally I am not aware of a single four year college or university where tuition represents more than half of its operating budget.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:06:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  New Jersey may be an outlier (0+ / 0-)

           but an expert analysis  from Rutgers' faculty union found that:

          student charges representing 42% of total operating revenues, while grants and state propriations accounted for 25% and 24%, respectively.. The state appropriation's share of operating revenues has declined from 32% in FY 2005, reflecting state funding cuts coupled with growth in other revenue sources, particularly student charges of tuition and auxiliaries

          Pennsylvania had higher education cuts of about half in the last state budget, IIRC.

          Of course, Rutgers took the opportunity of these cheerful figures to build a new football stadium which will be 95% funded by student fees.  

          It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

          by sayitaintso on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 06:11:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  sayitaintso - even in this example (0+ / 0-)

            it's not "pretty much all tuition". I don't have a lot of data but my sense is that few colleges and universities are as high at Rutgers and most are well under one third.  

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 08:51:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I work at a TN 4-year (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus

          The state covers about 30% of our costs. Most of the rest is tuition, though there are federal funds and some other grants.

          Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

          by tcorse on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 09:00:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I certainly agree with no longer subsidizing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geekesque, VClib

      football and other sports stadiums.  However, there are many colleges that have and are forcing the sports area to become self funded.  I know that the University of Iowa no longer provides money to the sports teams, it's all paid for by contributions and/or ticket and/or memoriablia sales.  (thank goodness, I didn't have to pay for them to convert natural turf to astro..... but, 20 years ago, I did have to pay for the convert from astro to natural.....)  I also know that UofI is not the only school in such a situation with their sports teams, ISU and UNI are getting much closer though.

      •  That's what the athletics programs say (0+ / 0-)

        but the truth is different. only 13 of the div 1 football schools managed to pay for their programs.

        Most of these schools count student fees and institutional support as revenues.

        They also throw in the school's entire royalties budget for clothing etc., into the athletic department pot, and in addition, athletic programs don't have the bonding authority to build facilities. The interest on facilities is usually paid for by the school itself. This is true even of a powerhouse like U. Texas which owes over $250 million on facilities.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:55:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, ManhattanMan
      If people want to waste their money on a high-status degree, that is fine. But why should taxpayers be asked to subsidize it?
      The problem is, ina job market at all tight, who do employers hire, the people with a community college degree or a "4-year" college degree?  You know the answer.  

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:35:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are correct... (0+ / 0-)

        ...but if the number of jobs is limited, we are just loaning taxpayer money to students who then use that money to bid for one of the few slots at the best schools.

        If we shut off the money, the bidding war would cease.  

        •  If you shut off the money (0+ / 0-)

          there would be even more inequality than there already is. schools at the top are still trying to diversify classes by class, and only in some states is public education far beyond the reach of students. The average tuition is still $7k nationally, which is manageable.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:56:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Those football stadiums can make millions (0+ / 0-)

      It is not as simple as you make it out to be, but I do agree with you about the things not related to academic matters that help drive costs.

      "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

      by sebastianguy99 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:55:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They can, but they don't (0+ / 0-)

        Sports are a money loser at the vast vast majority of schools. Only 13 made any money, but even at those schools, the interest on bonds is paid for by the academic side.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:57:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I read somewhere that the #1 requirement (0+ / 0-)

      by entering college freshman is free wi-fi...without that, any college is scratched off the list.

      Everyone has their priorities.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:06:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Free wi-fi is a necessity of learning (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan

        in today's universities. Not a luxury. Wi-fi saves schools a ton of money because it means they don't have to hardwire old buildings and classrooms.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:58:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  meanwhile those sports teams broadcast on RW radio (0+ / 0-)

      so the uni basically endorses the GOP and the RW radio stations that insult and demean higher ed and 'intelectuals' and advocate for defunding it and prioritizing taxes go to war and oil subsidies instead of education- for the community colleges too.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:14:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Community Colleges aren't the same (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, upstate NY

      as a university education. Not by a long shot. The problem is that we're trying to make college more affordable and accessible by watering down the standards and expectations. It's going to make the BA meaningless. They're trying to do a 2 at the cc then 2 online thing around here, but they don't want to hire qualified faculty to teach the courses. They're basically defrauding the students by representing it as equivalent to the university course.

      Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

      by play jurist on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:38:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  2 at CC and 2 at university is a good model (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lawrence, vidanto, Odysseus

        I've known a lot of people who did two at a CC and then two at a university and came out just as qualified in their profession as those who spent all four years at a university. In the '90s I was frequently assigned as a mentor for interns at my company.  We're an IT organization and all the interns were comp sci majors. I never noticed any difference in ability between those that spent their first two years at a community college and those that spent their first two years at a university. Introduction to programming and the lower level calculus courses can be taught just as effectively at a CC as at most universities.  My wife is a charge nurse on an oncology floor at a local community hospital. One of her responsibilities is mentoring new nurses. She swears that the new nursing graduates from the local community college are bettered prepared upon graduation than the ones from the local state university. There are certainly colleges and universities that are noted for their fine programs in specific fields, and a student may get more out of attending those institutions if they are interested in that field of study.  And if you've got the money you can attend a private college with small classes and receive more individualized attention, which can be more effective for some students. However, most freshmen and sophomore students at four year institutions are not in those situations.

        •  Yep. I did that. It was the only way that I (0+ / 0-)

          could afford my degree.  And some of the courses at my community college were fantastic, I must say.

          I think it'd be a great idea to expand some of the major community colleges into 4 year institutions.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:21:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It would be a good time to do that... (0+ / 0-)

            The job market has never been worse for academic. That means there are lots of recent PhDs who would normally get jobs at 4 year colleges or research universities who would love a full time position at a community college that was serious about building up faculty quality to transition to offering four year degrees. Maybe I'm bitter about this because I'm having such a hard time of it finding a full time position, but I can only tell you my personal experience. I think that if a cc is going to do that then there needs to be some kind of oversight of the hiring to be sure that they actually hire the best qualified candidate. I applied for a job at the cc in my home town. They have 0 (that's zero) faculty in my discipline with PhDs. Half of their faculty don't even have MAs in the subject matter they teach. The reputation that cc have when it comes to hiring is that the departments are full of people with a kind of inferiority complex. So if you actually finished your PhD instead of dropping out after the MA they don't want to hire you because they're afraid of working with someone that has better qualifications. I would have been a terrific catch for them and I could offer courses at a level of rigor that they don't have anyone currently able to teach. However, they declined even to interview me.

            So, I think it's a terrific idea to shift some ccs into four year colleges that keep tuition affordable. But something needs to be done to ensure that they shift toward requiring a PhD for faculty positions when they make that shift. In fact, I think that current faculty who don't have the PhD should be asked to go back and finish it if they want to transition to a four year college. There are plenty of qualified, unemployed PhDs who can teach courses. We should not short change cc students by having their course taught by people who dropped out of grad school before finishing their dissertations.

            Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

            by play jurist on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:10:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It is a fine model... (0+ / 0-)

          If the cc hires qualified faculty. I teach a logic course. A local community college asked for my syllabus. I asked who would be teaching the course. The admin in charge of the transfer program told me one of the deans was interested in teaching the course and that he had a Phd "in your area." In fact, the dean had an MA and it was in music, not anything remotely related to logic. In my opinion, offering my course with my syllabus with a choral director as the instructor is fraudulent. It not only defrauds the student in the class with the unqualified instructor but it also devalues the degree my students receive because I guarantee you that they learn more and work harder in my course. I've applied for teaching positions at community colleges where nobody on the philosophy faculty have a PhD, many have MAs in unrelated fields like theology. Yet, they pressure universities into accepting transfer credits as if they were equivalent. And if the universities push back they're branded "elitist". I am all for expanding access to higher ed through the community colleges, but they're trying to do it without hiring qualified faculty. I suspect the admins will give themselves raises and tout how much more efficient they are at saving students' money when in fact what they are doing is committing fraud.

          Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

          by play jurist on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:49:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Qualified faculty is a problem (0+ / 0-)

            at more than just CCs. State universities that have seen their funding progressively cut by state legislatures over the years and small private colleges that have seen their endowments devastated since 2008 are having to make hard choices these days. Anecdotally, one of my co-workers who had a masters in MIS taught an introduction to C programming course at a local state university without ever having programmed in C before.  He leaned on the experienced C programmers at work to help come up with homework assignments and exam questions.   I know for a fact that the instructor at the local community college who taught essentially the same course was better qualified than my co-worker was. I knew him personally and had worked with him on real world projects. I do not believe there was anybody better qualified to introduce a person to computer science. He had a masters in math and had taken an early retirement from the company we both worked for. He wanted to teach and the community college was a great environment for him.  No, he probably wasn't who you would want to teach a 400 level course on game theory, but he was certainly more than qualified to teach comp sci and programming to freshmen and sophomores. I can come up with plenty of examples of marginally qualified people who have taught at four year institutions and well qualified people who teach at community colleges. Having a PhD doesn't automatically qualify a person as a better lecturer to introductory material than someone with a lesser degree. But in the end what it comes down to for me is that I've known too many people who successfully transitioned from community college to four year institutions to believe that community colleges are inherently flawed as institutions.

        •  One more thing: course workloads (0+ / 0-)

          Another part of the expanding access push is to get people degrees who are working full time jobs. At the university where I'm presently working on a one year contract the workload requirement per week for a 3 credit hour class is supposed to be 9 hours of reading and homework outside of class. So to finish in 4 years you're supposed to have 12 hours/week in class and 36 hours/week outside of class. I take those workload requirements seriously in designing my courses and I ask a lot of my students. Part of the value of their degree is the fact that they've met those expectations. I have a real concern about watering down the value of the BA just so that more people can have one. I don't really see how anyone but a truly exceptional person could work 40 hours a week at a job and also commit 48 hours a week to their studies.

          You mentioned IT job training. If we're just really interested in that kind of thing alone then lets be honest about it and offer certification programs that stop short of a full BA which requires a broad liberal arts education meeting university distribution requirements. We could have more specified certifications to go with associates degrees without watering down the value of the BA. The consequence of watering down the BA is that the MA will just become the new BA and you'll wind up sacking that much more debt onto students.

          Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

          by play jurist on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:54:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  They're Selling Knowledge But Now Knowledge (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vidanto, GreenMother

      is only worth class rank. Income is gained with trade skills not knowledge.

      The problem is that we've built an economy in which knowledge is entertainment.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:41:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My working class 4 year (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, ManhattanMan

      Has a decrepit stadium, dorms no sensible person wants to live in, no cathedral, and a 100 year tradition of losing student paperwork. Yet our costs keep going up. It's not the fancy stuff, it's the basics. The state has been cutting us for years.  We are a labor intensive operation whose labor can not be shipped overseas or replaced with robots -- thus, as long as current labor trends hold, our costs will always run ahead of inflation.

      Oh, and while faculty pay is part of those labor costs, the rapid increase in administrative costs is a bigger culprit. (Sound familiar?) Faculty just got their first raise in four years, about 3%. Full time that is -- adjuncts haven't gotten a raise since 19-fricking-92!

      Our business model is breaking all right, but it's a lot more complicated than a few elite places with a fancy amenities.

      Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

      by tcorse on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:59:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't you mean tuition is rising above (0+ / 0-)

        inflation?

        Costs should be running at or under inflation, according to the studies I've seen.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:00:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A point that is missed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geekesque, ManhattanMan, SingleVoter

    is that the interest rate on this debt is very low.  In fact, the rate on my $15,000 of college loan debt through Sallie Mae was recently lowered by a full percentage point without any action on my part.  It's now disadvantageous for me to pay it off early, which I am more than capable of doing.  Also, interest expense on student loan debt is tax deductible to an extent.  

    If you're going to have any debt at all, student loans is the way to go.  Pay down your credit cards, car loan, even your mortgage first.  

    •  Some is, some isn't (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sebastianguy99, stunzeed, SingleVoter

      Stafford loans I believe are coming in at 6.8% right now for many people.  That's more than I pay on my car or my house.  

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:32:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no...it's 3.4% now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FishOutofWater

        got this today from moveon:

        in 2007...Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.

        It reduced the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans incrementally over four academic years, from 6.8 percent at the time to the current 3.4 percent.

        Republican leadership in the House is planning to let this legislation expire on July 1, effectively doubling the interest rates on these loans.
        so sign the petition and call your senators and stuff!

        Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

        by Cedwyn on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:12:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oops (0+ / 0-)

          that's from credo, not moveon.

          Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

          by Cedwyn on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:20:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not exactly... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cedwyn, Odysseus

          You are correct that Subsidized Staffords are at 3.8%

          But Unsubsidized Staffords are, and have been for the last few years, at 6.8%.

          You can only take out a max of $5500 in Subsidized Staffords a year.  So if your tuition comes out above that, you're stuck with the Unsubsidized loans at 6.8% (unless you can somehow swing a Private Loan with a lower rate).

          •  So start your private lending firm. (0+ / 0-)

            Market rates are what lenders are willing to offer.  If you want to see 3.5% student loans, go do it.  It might even pay better than a CD.

            -7.75 -4.67

            "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

            There are no Christians in foxholes.

            by Odysseus on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:53:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Try (0+ / 0-)

      the private debt that many students have to take.  Not so low of a rate thanks to their definition of "risk"

      Murdered While Black: If George Zimmerman is not arrested, there is no justice in Florida.

      by Rustbelt Dem on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:34:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Americans have become a huge dairy herd (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SingleVoter

    to be milked, automatically, by machine.

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel. Abraham Lincoln

    by Nailbanger on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:55:54 AM PDT

  •  Alternate view (4+ / 0-)

    Student loan debt expanded drastically as universities cashed in on the fact that they could suck down federal funds, because anyone with a pulse can get a student loan. One result is that as it becomes the norm to get a college degree, all sorts of jobs that were and could still be done by people with 10th-grade educations now require the advanced degree for no good reason at all—except that it helps narrow the applicant pool for the HR people.

    And many of those kids now being subjected to so-called "higher education" have no business being in college in the first place—I know, because they show up in my university classes, now in desperate need of remedial teaching to make up for their incompetent public school education. Many of these kids will then be passed through the diploma mills in little better shape than when they arrived.

    The answer, or part of it, is not to make colleges free, but to make high schools competent.

    •  You are the problem. You haven't protested what (3+ / 0-)

      the university you teach at is bilking kids. The average college kid is forced to work 3.3 hours a day on his studies. That includes class times. Most learn little the first two years because of general classes that are easier than my high school classes. A recent study showed that 45% of students learned nothing their first two years of college. What may be worse is that 35% report no significant gains after 4 years in critical thinking. Blame the "public high schools" if you want, but if you are looking for blame, look at your own institution. If we had as bad of record as colleges did, we would be fired. Your college can take who they want, we cannot. Yet we educate at 1/6 of the cost.

      Get off your damn ivory tower and be part of the solution for education.

      Colleges are bilking kids because not everyone graduates. In fact, only 40% make it the first 4 years and only 60% ever earn one.

      So to rephrase: The answer, or part of it, is not to make colleges free, but to make colleges competent.

      •  Wow!!!!! 3.3 hours per day??? INCLUDING (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hrvatska, SteelerGrrl

        Class time?  And forced???  The horror.  That must mean the average college student must take 2 or 3 classes a day!  But you say he/she is forced to spend the egregious amount of 3.3 hours per day en toto on studies, including lecture or lab time.

        WTF?????  Really...I mean, if you sleep 10 hours a day, and study 3.3 hours....that only leaves 10.7 hours of "free time" left.  

        I can't wait to hear your social critique when you are 45 years old.

        "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

        by Keith930 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:01:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wish my students didn't need Gen Ed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        But they do -- not all universities serve the children of the professional class, and the children of those without privilege need a lot more help if they are going to lift themselves up.

        Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

        by tcorse on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 09:09:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  They are indifferent college students because (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boji, vidanto, SteelerGrrl

        they were indifferent high school students. A lot of students end up in college because it was better than the alternative of working the low paying dead end jobs that are available in their communities. They're in college not because they have a burning desire to learn, but because everyone says you need a college degree to rise above those dead end jobs.  My guess is that if there were decent blue collar jobs available to high school students upon graduation, like there were in years past, a lot of them wouldn't have chosen to attend college.

        It's really a bit much to expect students to suddenly become inspired young scholars with a thirst for learning upon arrival at college if they didn't have it beforehand. College is a lot like high school in that a student can do enough to get a B but still not take much away from a class. Cheating is not uncommon in college. In surveys most college students admit to cheating.  Cheating is not limited to tests, services that produce entire papers for college students are easily available on the internet.  Colleges, like high schools, provide ample opportunity for a student to learn if the student wants to learn. That a lot of students do the minimum amount of work to get by isn't surprising. A lot of them don't even know why they're in college in the first place.

        •  EXACTLY!!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          boji

          You nailed it.  I was one of those kids.  

          I grew up in a small PA town.  In high school, I wanted to go to Penn State.  Maybe do a year at the local campus, even keep my part-time job at Burger King because it was kind of fun.  The classes were small, and it would give me time to choose a major.  My plan was to take all the pre-med requirements but major in something other than biology.

          Both my guidance counselor and my parents were appalled by this.  When you're valedictorian with high SATs who plays three instruments and two sports, and you want to be a doctor, you go to a Good School.

          Long story short, Harvard turned my ass down and I landed in one of the dozens of small northeastern Ivy-fallbacks with high med-school acceptance rates, five hours from home and seven from my boyfriend.  Where I had a major depressive breakdown and limped through the finish line 4 years and one school transfer later with a BA, 2.9 GPA and $15K in debt.  That was in 1990.

          I did. not. belong. in. college. when I was 18, and I knew it.  At 24 I fell in love with cardiology, became an ultrasound tech and then an RN, and can truly say I love what I do.  But at 43 I'm still over $20K in debt.  It's manageable, but it's depressing as hell.  

          My heart goes out to the young people who are crushed by debt before they even have a chance to get a foothold in life. Grad school's a fading possibility, but at least we managed to buy a house.

          No one ... NO one belongs in college if they don't know exactly why they're there.  There are more than enough free resources for the intellectually curious.  

          "as long as there last name is not obozo, i am voting for them." -- some wingnut blogger

          by SteelerGrrl on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:39:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I seriously doubt that public school teachers (0+ / 0-)

        are dealing with the sort of upheaval higher education is dealing with.

        Full-time faculty nationally has dropped from 80% of total instructors 12 years ago to its current 30%.

        Imagine now if 50% of all the teachers in the USA were cut. What would happen to the schools?

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:31:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They haven't cut the number of teachers, they have (0+ / 0-)

          replaced teachers with non-tenure usually adjunct faculty. That is a huge problem.

          No one seems to care.

          It is still 6X more expensive to educate a student at a public university than it is at a public high school.

          Just maybe, there is a problem with the publish to perish model.  Maybe there is a problem with teachers who teach 15 hours a week. A few years ago, I taught a college full load and 3 other classes for our high school.

          I am so tired of hearing college professors blame others for students not learning in high schools.

          •  They HAVE cut the number of teachers (0+ / 0-)

            Classroom sizes have doubled. 50 student sections no longer have TAs as graders. But yes, adjuncts are teaching the vast majority of classes.

            6X more expensive? Here in NY state, it's $18k per student of public funds at the high school level, $8k per student at the college level. Tuition is $6k. Cost per student is $21k. That means research grants and endowment pick up the rest of the tab over tuition. The state spends a lot more money educating a kindergartner than it does a college student.

            I teach 5 hours and 20 minutes each week. Typically, I log 70 hours of work total each week. Much less in summer of course.

            College professors are blaming the state of high schools, not the teachers. There is a world of difference in students in the last 10 years. The students who have been subjected to the testing regime are much less prepared than they used to be. It's demonstrable on so many levels.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:28:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The rise in tuition correlates not with the rise (0+ / 0-)

      in loans, but the drop in state support.

      We need to look at cost per student to see if there have been exponential increases. There haven't been. Only tuition is rising exponentially. Since the amount of student loan available has remained the same for 30 years now, it doesn't correlate to the rise in tuition.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:29:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How are total expenditures per student (0+ / 0-)

    in the US compared to Germany or the UK?  In terms of total cost--government support/endowment/tuition etc.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:09:47 AM PDT

    •  My Daughter, on her own (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vidanto, Odysseus, SteelerGrrl, Geekesque

      figured out that a semester abroad through the University of Colorado system, was too expensive (my son spent a year in China and speaks mandarin, but it cost 20k in loans) . So she "distanced" herself from the university, Got a scholarship to University of Freiburg, Germany (International studies and German major) spent a year there, (speaking fluent German) and came back to UC Boulder with credits BOTH in international Studies and German, and graduated Summa a year early. You just have to want to do it. Cost? just living expenses.

      She was not interested in doing the least, but In working hard to be the best. And yes, she did work/study to help pay the bills along the way. And to make sure she could get around, I gave her a BMW 325IX. A 20 year old 1991 car, worth about 1k,  I rebuilt it from a wreck, bright red. But reliable. Her friends thought it was cool that she was driving a 10k desirable  car, but only she and I knew...

      She now works for the UN in Quito, Ecuador after grad school in Geneva and Singapore, helping refugees at UNHCR.

      So there are three women graduating for every two guys these days. Maybe the women take the process more seriously and don't party as much....My son got that message as well, though later in his college career... But he's successful as well, though not like his sister...

      My point is that students who really want to take advantage of university can do that.But maybe partying all night is not a good strategy....

      Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

      by blindcynic on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:01:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My daughter noticed the same thing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geekesque

        My daughter spent her junior year at the university of Bonn. She attended as part of a year abroad program at the college she attended in the US, so she paid US tuition. What she came to realize is that if she had gone to the University of Bonn as an independent student her tuition there would have been about 10% of what it was at her US college. The University of Bonn charges tuition for non-nationals, but it's so little as to seem nearly free compared to US colleges. She could have literally flown to and from Germany twice a year and it would have been less expensive than attending a state university in NY.

        •  yes ! good to hear others have figured that out (0+ / 0-)

          MY daughter took German at a community college as a HS Senior, then spent a year as an Au Pair in Germany between HS and college. So part of her ability to go to school in Germany was because of language fluency, and that's as good a reason as any to learn a foreign language - she essentially got "Paid" (i.e. didn;t take out loans) probably 10k to do it the way she did.

          But she (my daughter) got the idea because we hosted exchange students while she was in HS - three girls, one from Vietnam, two from Germany - they are like sisters to her now and it was a very good experience, but she had to share her bedroom for three years, and that was good too...Just sold the bunk beds a year or so ago...

          And so this brings up the issue - why is University almost free in Europe and very expensive here???? because the state (like Germany) believes, after oh, six hundred years, that an educated workforce is a benefit to society in general - and also they take tests mid-teens and only those who pass get into University... whereas professors here at every level will tell you how frustrating it is that about half of incoming students in College need remedial work just to do the basics...High school is failing them...

          Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

          by blindcynic on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 11:48:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  TANSTAAFL* (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan
    But what's needed is government support to make public higher education free, or at least so cheap it's genuinely affordable for everyone. .
    Unfortunately, you cannot make it "free", or even "cheap".  You can talk about shifting the cost - and maybe we should all contribute something (ie higher taxes) so everyone can go to college.  That's a different discussion than "free", and one I could probably support.

    K-12 education is "free" - until you get the property tax bill.   And school budgets are getting hammered becuase there's not enough tax revenue to go around in state and local budgets.  Tax funded higher eduction may well go the same way.

    I agree we need to do something and the student debt load is outrageous - but calling for "free" is misleading.

    * There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, for those not familiar with Heinlein.

    why I'm a Democrat - Isaiah 58:6-12, Matthew 25:31-46

    by marking time on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:14:49 AM PDT

    •  "Free" college will fail. (0+ / 0-)

      We made K-12 free, yet many who graduate form high school can't read or write very well. When taxpayers complain about this, the schools say (with much justification) that they can only do so much. The dumb kids are the result of Bad Home Environments.

      Now we propose sending these same kids off for 4 years of "free" college. Why do we believe the results will be better?

      If K-12 isn't getting it right, how will throwing more money at the colleges help?

      If we're going to spend, I would spend on K-12 first.

      •  It isn't because they're free (0+ / 0-)

        Pubic K-12 schools that are seen as failures don't fail because they are free any more than good suburban school districts that are considered to be successes succeed because they are free.  There are plenty of sociological and political reasons that K-12 schools that do poorly are in that state that don't apply to post secondary institutions.  I think one of the reasons is that, as you note, we 'send' kids to K-12.  They are not just sent, they are required to attend. Attendance is compulsory and everyone must be accepted without qualification. The same is not true of post secondary schools such as community colleges or state universities. My local community colleges are no more successful today for charging $1850 per semester than they were years ago when they were so cheap as to seem nearly free.  My first exposure to higher education was at a community college. It was cheap enough that I could afford to pay its tuition and to live on the wages of a job that paid not much more than minimum wage.  

    •  We need all kinds of colleges (0+ / 0-)

      Very low cost trade or junior colleges are critical to economic opportunity and upward mobility-- and they train people who make things, which we want our economy to continue doing.

      But we also need high cost, labor and resource intensive liberal arts colleges. Why? Because we need writers, philosophers, biochemists, historians, and psychologists too. While one can learn those "trades" in other settings, I'm convinced by experience that certain types of learners will thrive only in the high attention, high opportunity setting of a small college, where economies of scale do not apply and the price tag of $40K/year only starts to pay for the actual cost of delivering an education.

      Luckily these private schools discount tuition dramatically, based on need, so there are relatively few that are paying the full sticker price. But even those who are not need access to low rate federal loans, so I'm glad we have them as an option. Otherwise the most selective small colleges would look much like the selective prep schools, bastions of elite privilege rather than diverse generators of innovation and leadership.

      •  All kinds but more of some less of others (0+ / 0-)

        "But we also need high cost, labor and resource intensive liberal arts colleges. Why? Because we need writers, philosophers, biochemists, historians, and psychologists too"

        I would not label Liberal arts colleges as "high cost high value"

        We produce enough if not too many degrees from these kinds of institutes.

        This can be seen from the elevated unemployment rates among individuals with certain higher education backgrounds.

        Indeed there may be value gained from moving "writers philosophers and historians" to the trade or junior college level. This may allow for more resources to be spent the the true high cost/ resource intensive fields such  as your "biochemists and psychologists"

        My general point is our educational field hierarchy may need some re-work.

        Ill use a silly example

        Who says a Md needs 8 years of education while a mechanic can get by with 2?  

        Or who says a "masters" in english should take as long as a "masters" in biochemistry.

        •  You've just destroyed higher education (0+ / 0-)

          with your proposals. Philosophy majors are much valued in the workplace. You ask anyone why some of these fields keep producing valuable and needed skills. It's been studied.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:26:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The predators are embedded in colleges. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sebastianguy99

    Maybe gov't grants should be eliminated and replaced with gov't subsidies directly made to public colleges based on increasing acceptances and lower costs and bankruptcy laws changed to allow student loans to be included in bankruptcy. Certainly interest rates should be capped at 3%.

    This problem can be fixed. It's not a matter of funding or options. As usual, the only obstacle t solutions is simply political will to take appropriate action.

    An important parallel is Medicaid mental health services. Private therapy in SoCal is billed around $150/50m. Medicaid can be billed as high as $450/50m.  

     

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:17:37 AM PDT

    •  Lend to the school, not to the students. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kck

      And lend rational amounts of money with a maximum based on past graduate above average earnings.

      New graduates should then be taxed on income up to fifteen years after leaving school and the money credited to their school for the school's loan repayments to the government.

      The tax surcharge rate percentages for full-timers might be 1% for the first year of schooling, 2% more for an associate degree or second year of schooling, 1.5% more for the third year of schooling if not for an associate degree, 2% more for any bachelors degree, 2% more for a masters degree and 3% more for a Ph.D.

      •  The British government (0+ / 0-)

        uses a payback tax rate of 9% above about a $22,000/year threshhold with a twenty-five year maximum repayment period possible.

        After twenty-five years I believe, any remaining balance is written off.

        •  The British government still lends (0+ / 0-)

          to the students.

        •  We have the IBR program here in the US. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rich in PA, Odysseus, upstate NY

          Anyone with a Stafford loan (subsidized or unsubsidized) can enroll in Income Based Repayment. It caps your payment as a percentage of your adjusted gross income. For the first 3 years the accruing interest is paid by the government on the subsidized portion of your loan, if it is unsubsidized it accrues separately but does not recapitalize on the loan (mitigating the debt snowball). After three years on the subsidized loan the unpaid interest accumulates separate from the original principle. The cool thing is after 20 years if your debt is not paid off it is forgiven. If you work for a non-profit or in the public service sector your debt is forgiven after 10 years. It knocked my payment down from over 800 per month to about 240 per month. Private loans do not qualify.

          http://studentaid.ed.gov/...

          "The wise man fights for the lost cause, realizing that all other are merely affect" ee cummings

          by acupunk on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:39:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Tying education to income (0+ / 0-)

        is a recipe for disaster.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:20:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  How are the predators embedded (0+ / 0-)

      in colleges?

      What do you mean by that?

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:21:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Damn - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sebastianguy99

    that reminds me that I need to call SallieMae and ask for a forebearance.

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:23:07 AM PDT

  •  Dumping private lenders is a good start (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SingleVoter

    Educational debt is generally good debt. I carry a fair bit myself, which enabled me to get through multiple graduate programs that I simply could not have paid for otherwise. No regrets on my end at all. The 5% fixed rate I pay on my federal consolidation loans was quite reasonable a decade ago, though I wish there were opportunities to refinance now that rates are lower.

    That said, I was lucky to study at an institution that was an early participant in the Federal Direct Loan program. I did not have to borrow from Sallie Fucking Mae or a commercial bank; my grad school debt came directly from the government and I pay the government back directly each month.

    Why we even consider allowing private banks or "servicing companies" to take a profit cut from the federal aid system is beyond me. It is public money and should be handled on a non-profit basis by the government. Screw the private lenders and go-betweens-- after all, that's what they do to students.

  •  Seems like a good thing, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, Odysseus

    not a bad thing.  Consumer debt that high may be bad.  Maybe even housing debt.  But a trillion dollars of student debt looks to me like a trillion dollars invested in human capital which is very likely going to produce very high returns in the future.  

  •  and the loudest local voices for defunding ed are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater

    often the  RW megastations (often limbaugh stations) that piggyback university sports

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:08:23 PM PDT

  •  I have to go wild on this one. (10+ / 0-)

    I will write another diary.  But for now realize that at 76 I am a product of American "generosity"  I am a PhD and a leader in many fields of scientific research.  Every bit of my education was paid for by the American people.  Not only that but once I won the competition for doctoral and post doctoral fellowships, they trusted me to figure out what to do with them.  The decline in investment in Americas youth since then  has been accompanied by a steady decline in America as a nation that leads in progress.  It is so ugly!

    PS  the reason for the quotes around generosity is that in fact I was in the era of the Sputnik scare.  All that money that went into education was to stop the USSR from beating us.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:16:05 PM PDT

  •  Got an email this week... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    acnetj

    It was from a community college asking for a copy of my syllabus.

    FUCK YOU I DON'T HAVE A FUCKING JOB NEXT YEAR MY STUDENT LOANS ARE DUE AND THE BEST I CAN GET IS ADJUNCTING (MAYBE) THAT'S A PAY CUT FROM A TA'SHIP YOU HAVE NOBODY QUALIFIED TO TEACH MY COURSE HIRE ME IF YOU WANT MY SYLLABUS YOU OVERPAID BABY BOOMER ADMINISTRATOR FUCKFACE

    Sorry. I needed to get that off my chest.

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:32:15 PM PDT

  •  So how (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    does the bubble burst when you can't even discharge through bankruptcy?  When the cost of education skyrockets to the point where many (including myself) have to have "private" loans, quite possibly the most toxic debt imaginable?

    The financial institutions have an entire generation by whatever body part you choose to imaging.  What is the way out for them?

    Murdered While Black: If George Zimmerman is not arrested, there is no justice in Florida.

    by Rustbelt Dem on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:33:07 PM PDT

  •  My best friend finished with almost 300K debt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, Odysseus

    She went to a private vet school in the Cayman Islands for two years, and then transferred to a public vet school in the US for another four.

    The result is crushing debt, enough to buy a house.

    She found a job within a few months of graduating, thankfully, and she is focused on living a very austere life for the next decade so she can pay off as much as she can as quickly as possible, before the interest spirals totally out of control.  Her plan is to use half her income on student loan payments, leaving her with about 35K a year to live on.  Definitely doable for a young single woman with no children, but she's not going to be having any luxuries for a long time.

    In contrast, I'll have a grand total of ~40K when I finish my master's degree.  And my earnings potential is going to be on par with hers, even though I won't have the title of Dr. to match.  With luck and some austerity of my own, I can pay that off within three or four years.

    Private schools prey on the desperate.  I am glad she was able to get out.

    Tradition says that God gave us choice. Some of His disciples act like it is up to them to remove it. ~ kjoftherock

    by catwho on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:33:09 PM PDT

    •  That was her choice. (0+ / 0-)

      We can't heavily subsidize discretionary decisions.

      But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

      by Rich in PA on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 04:39:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  She was desperate (0+ / 0-)

        She had been turned down by all the state schools and private schools in the US for 3-4 years, and then a private school swooped in and offered her admission.

        She realized her mistake quite quickly - the school was nothing more than a degree mill, and since it was outside of the US, she was going to have to jump through a dozen hoops to actually become certified by the American vet association.

        She used that as the basis for her admissions essay that finally got her accepted to the local university's vet school: "They are going to give me a degree I have done nothing to earn.  The quality of education I will receive at your school is clearly superior."

        They accepted her that time, but she had to restart as a freshman.

        Vet school is more competitive than medical school or law school, because so many kids grow up with dreams of becoming a vet, but there is not that much demand.

        Tradition says that God gave us choice. Some of His disciples act like it is up to them to remove it. ~ kjoftherock

        by catwho on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:02:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The ratio of state funding vs tuition (0+ / 0-)

    per student has flipped in many states in a matter of decades.  I think WI was 30/70 before this past year - now the state portion is lower.  Used to be about 70/30.   That's the states banking, literally, on student loans shoring up the difference.  And its a substantial divestment in the education of its citizens.

    I agree that there may be some students who don't need higher ed. or belong in college, but I'm not as sure that it's easy to tell who they are.  One of the courses I teach is the basic writing version of Critical Reading and Writing seminar, and while some of the students struggle, I also have some, who get categorized as needing remediation who are both bright and motivated.  Likewise, aptitude and preparation do not mean that you aren't going to piss your college years away.

    I am leery of any calculus that determines who should and shouldn't go to college.  Of course, with the current emphasis on retention, we practically bar people from rethinking their decision once they're in.

    •  I saw recently that Cal-Berkeley used to receive (0+ / 0-)

      $16k per student from the state in 1995 and now receives $9k, 15 years later. Tuition, curiously enough, has risen by $9k in that 15 year period. Hmmmmmmmmm.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:18:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I worked one job while in college (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, Rich in PA

    about 30 hours per week.  I always worked on Saturday and Sunday, which put a crimp in fun time, but not so much in study time. My Dad paid tuition, and I paid for my rent and most of my texts, depending upon the course load.  I was following a BS degree, and some quarters if I had a lot of science courses the texts could really add up...other quarters, when I had more humanities classes, the books weren't as expensive, and I could pay for them by myself.

    If either I or my Dad would have had to borrow money to make college a reality, I don't think it would have happened.  On the other hand, there was never any question that I would have to work on the side and help pay for the whole thing.

    "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

    by Keith930 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:45:40 PM PDT

    •  In PA if you did that during the school year... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vidanto

      ...and worked full time in the summer, you'd have your college expenses covered at a state-owned university (SSHE).  The problem is the jobs aren't there.

      But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

      by Rich in PA on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 04:38:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have $93,000 of student loans (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny, Rich in PA, Odysseus

    My personal experience:

    My loan payments are $490 a month.  Here's how my yearly income has changed as my education progressed:

    Before Bachelors (2003): $22,000
    After Bachelors (2006): $31,000

    When I started Masters: $45,000
    When I finished Masters (2010): $58,000

    Today: ~$85,000 (base + incentives, which varies)

    I can't say my education was solely responsible for my income growth, but it definitely played a part.  I'm lucky in that my loan payment isn't putting me in financial stress, but there are plenty of people I went to school with who are in duress.

    I knew I'd be close to six figures in debt when I finished my Masters, but I looked at it as a long-term investment.  If you say that my rise in income is a direct result of my education, in another year or two it'll already pay for itself.

    The process of going to school, especially graduate school, was almost more helpful than the actual content of my classes.  It's something that everybody should have the opportunity to do.

    GOD! Save me from your followers.

    by adversus on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:49:35 PM PDT

    •  if you don't mind divulging...what did you get (0+ / 0-)

      your degree in?  It seems to me that should be part of this conversation.  I wouldn't go $95 grand into the hole, for example, to get a degree in art history.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:05:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vidanto, Odysseus

        I have a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology Management.  I didn't want a pure C.S. degree, I wanted something that tied into business.

        My graduate degree is an MBA with a a Technology Management concentration (essentially a straight up MBA with some additional course work focused on the high-technology sector).  

        I work in the software industry.  When I was doing my Masters I managed a team of contracts doing a enterprise data conversion for the State of Oregon.  

        Now I work for an ERP/accounting software firm that focuses on the construction industry.

        GOD! Save me from your followers.

        by adversus on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:28:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Art history has fully funded grad programs (0+ / 0-)

        while professional schools don't.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:15:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Debt-ridden college grads are not saving (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, GreenMother

    to buy their first homes, and it's worse than that-- banks are not lending to people with student loans so they can buy those first homes either.   I lost buyers for my home who were very good loan risks, she was a lawyer with a big firm and he was a computer systems analyst, but they had too much student loan debt.

    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please -- Mark Twain

    by OnePingOnly on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 07:56:07 PM PDT

  •  Regency University (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother

    ..has an Air-Force collegiate .. I'm out of words. But that Colorado Springs base - Creep-show.

    When my Air-Force relative showed up today she was wearing a sweatshirt with the Jesus rock-band emblazoned.

    No Purple-hearts.

    I'm old enough and centered enough to be not scared.

    They're crazy. The United States Air-Force would think that President Rick Santorum would be a fine-ass "Commander in Chief" and nuke themselves if it was for the Second-Coming.

    They hit my friend with a club. In the head. Who are we kidding here? At least there wasn't a 9mm gun and a badge involved?

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:08:29 PM PDT

  •  For profit schools are a big problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother

    One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this thread are the for profit schools that misrepresent the available job prospects from there training. Many even employ commissioned sales people to oversell their programs and encourage the students to take out the loans to pay for the courses, knowing full well they won't be able to repay the loans, but the "schools" will have already pocketed the loan proceeds.

    •  They have taken advantage of the hole left by (0+ / 0-)

      regular colleges.

      Many military folk want to take correspondence courses while active duty. But because they are sometimes stationed overseas or on a sub or a boat, that limited one's options [til recently] Regular universities were too snooty to offer anything like that.

      So for profits stepped in to fill that vacuum. Now they are established and even pushed in the Tuition Assistance offices.

      Many of our military are attending Bob Jones U and Liberty and worse via Correspondence Courses and E-courses.

      And WE ARE PAYING FOR IT!

      We are paying for their indoctrination.

      •  Too snooty? (0+ / 0-)

        I mean, it's a wholesale lowering of standards. But nonetheless, it's available at the vast majority of universities.

        Democrats and the President had a chance to stop subsidizing for-profits, and they backed off.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:03:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  there is no good solution to this (0+ / 0-)

    The more students loans are provided on the cheap, the more the schools will increase their tuition and fees.  ...and then there will need to be more student loan/aid, and then the tuition will increase, and then....

    Education has become a big business.

  •  How about interest free loans? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, Odysseus

    I have over 100k in federal student loans and am locked into an 8.25% interest rate for the life of the loan. It is insanely frustrating to see interest rates at historic lows and be locked into a rate that is ridiculous and have no way to refinance. I actually could afford the payments if my rate was at 4.5%. At least there is the IBR program which has given me some respite but who knows what will happen to that if the Repugs get back in power. I think federal loans should be interest free, I would at least be able to pay it off before I am 70 years old.

    "The wise man fights for the lost cause, realizing that all other are merely affect" ee cummings

    by acupunk on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:22:52 PM PDT

  •  This is why I have been suggesting (0+ / 0-)

    that a fund be established that borrows money at 3% from peoples' IRA and 401k funds tax exempt for 10 years. Use the money to support education. There's about $7 trillion in these funds. I think you could borrow about $2 trillion of that and pay a total of $136 billion in interest. If you calculate the effect on GDP of increas education, it basically pays for itself.

    Fructose is a liver poison. Stop eating it today.

    by Anne Elk on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:53:33 PM PDT

    •  You can already use IRA to pay qualified education (0+ / 0-)

      IRS.gov: Publication 970

      However, you can take distributions from your IRAs for qualified higher education expenses without having to pay the 10% additional tax. You may owe income tax on at least part of the amount distributed, but you may not have to pay the 10% additional tax.
      One issue would certainly be that low income students almost certainly have no IRA money available when they enter college.  This option doesn't help the people who could use it most because they have no resources to take advantage of it.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:04:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am thinking of just straight out (0+ / 0-)

        Subsidies to make higher education basically free to lower income kids for a good ten years by creating a $2 trillion fund. Why is this so difficult to understand. It's basically the same idea as Liberty Bonds in WW2. The government borrows from the public to serve some paramount national goal.

        Fructose is a liver poison. Stop eating it today.

        by Anne Elk on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:36:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's no reason for government involvement. (0+ / 0-)

          You can do everything you suggest today, privately.  If you want to make private student loans out of your IRA, you can do that now.  All parts of the law are already written.

          Convince a few hundred of your closest friends to do it and do it.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:19:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The bottom line is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, vidanto

    that the population no longer makes decent enough money to pay for school.  So, just like consumer debt, people going to school have to assume more debt.

    That, and the outrageous inflation in college costs.....

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 09:06:12 PM PDT

  •  Perplexed and puzzled (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a moderate Democrat. I'm confused why $15.5 trillion in federal debt (more per capita than in Greece) is generally viewed by this blog as not an enormous problem (people argue for more entitlements and against the Simpson-Bowles Plan). But student debt over $1 trillion is?
    Could somebody explain the logic to me?

    •  Need to consider other factors (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA, Odysseus

      Per capita debt is larger in the US than Greece, but there are some mitigating factors that make the US situation less serious. One is that US per capita income is larger.  Greece's per capita debt is about $40,000, but it's per capita income is about $27,000. I wouldn't be surprised if with the austerity induced recession Greece is suffering if it's per capita income has fallen below that figure. In the US per capita debt is about $44,000 and income about $48,000.  Secondly, debt as a percentage of the national budget is much lower in the US than it is in Greece. When it comes time to refinance its debt Greece's budget gets hammered with any increase in interest rates. Thirdly, the US can finance its debt at rock bottom interest rates compared to Greece or Italy. And lastly, the US has a much more efficient and effective tax collection system. Greece has a much larger underground economy relative to it's legal taxable economy than the US does. There's no one who's saying we don't have to get a better handle on our debt in the long run (not many at least), but there are huge differences in how people think we should approach that problem.  Most progressives think Simpson-Bowles went too far on cuts to social programs and not nearly far enough on tax increases, closing loop holes, and cuts to the military-intelligence-industrial complex.  Try your hand at fixing the deficit at http://www.nytimes.com/... .

      •  I agree with nearly everything you wrote (0+ / 0-)

        except for the tax systems. Too many people differentiate between high tax evasion of very high tax rates and lower tax evasion of very low tax rates. Greece collects 40% of GDP in tax revenue while the USA collects 20% of GDP. The higher the taxes, the higher the evasion.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:13:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The US and Greece are closer than that (0+ / 0-)

          The OECD has total tax burden for the US at 24% in 2009. The OECD had Greece at 29.4 for 2009. Also, since a larger percentage of Greece's economy than the US' has been traditionally been underground (US ~7%, Greece ~25%), and the underground economy is not included in the official GDP, I'm not sure that the tax burden was actually higher in Greece.

          Tax compliance and tax rates are higher across northern Europe, so it's not necessarily true the higher tax rates lead to higher rates of evasion. People aren't more honest in the US and northern Europe; the tax systems are just more efficient. In the US and northern Europe income and various commercial transactions are much more likely to be tracked and therefore taxed.

          Greece also ranks much lower on transparency.org's perceived transparency index than the US. I can't prove it, but I tend to think that less transparency leads to more corruption, which in turn facilitates tax evasion. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest level of transparency (Somalia=1, North Korea=1) and 10 being the highest(New Zealand=9.5), the US is at 7.1 and Greece 3.4.  

          That Greece may now be collecting more taxes as a percentage of its GDP perhaps says more about the shrinking Greek economy, it's increased zeal to collect taxes, and it's desperate need to comply with onerous demands by the troika than about the relationship between tax rates and tax evasion.

          •  OECD's numbers are wrong (0+ / 0-)

            Look at Eurostat's numbers. Those are definitely the more stable of the two. Eurostat has teams of accountants conducting audits. They have people actually on the ground. OECD culls information from far afield.

            Plus, Greek taxes are even higher when you consider that fully 15% of GDP is shipping, and that goes totally untaxed for obvious reasons. I have some in-depth studies of the Greek tax system if you care. I can send the .pdf to anyone who wants it.

            I really wonder how the OECD gets its numbers. Are those aggregate? Do they include social contributions?

            Here's Eurostat: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/...

            Click on the following:

            1. Database
            2. Annual Government Finance Statistics
            3. Government Revenue
            4. Under the INDIC scroll menu, click on Total Government Revenue

            Something is very wrong about that OECD grid because almost all of the European countries hover around 40-45% and OECD has them as much outlier.

            Greece was at 39.5% for 2010, and hovered around 40% for the last decade.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:06:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Student debt is a huge problem because of who (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, acupunk, GreenMother

      it falls on.  While the national debt can be spread across the whole economy, student debt falls on individuals.  And a lot of those individuals either can't find a job or are working at jobs where most of their money is going to servicing their student loans.  This has a depressing effect on the economy a whole.  In years past new college graduates would use their income to help fuel the economy. Today, because of their debt, a large percentage of people who attended college can't purchase cars or homes. They can't afford to go on vacation. They can't afford to go out to eat. There's just so much they can't do because of debt. Much like the housing crisis, there are people who adopt a judgmental attitude towards those who took on more debt than they can handle. "You borrowed all that money, too bad for you if you're life sucks now." The problem with that attitude is that the total debt being assumed by students is now starting to have a systemic effect on the economy.  Even if you don't have much sympathy for the individuals who are deeply in debt, you need to be concerned about how this level of individual debt will limit prosperity for everyone else.

  •  we have a LONG way to (0+ / 0-)

    go. no sugarcoating

    But we are MOVING towards sanity.  

  •  Studying the price of college is next (0+ / 0-)

    Last December, the administration had a conference with a few college administrators to discuss why the cost of college is so high and what can be done to lower the cost. It wasn't a big story then. However, I have a feeling that it will bubble up to the surface sooner than later.

    The other part of this is that faculties at a lot of colleges and universities are feeling the pinch. They see that this coming accountability scan is going to hit them and they are preparing for it. In fact, Robert Archibald and David Feldman - two economists at the College of William & Mary - have written a book about the high cost of college and defending faculty pay among other things. They would tell you it's because they are in a specialized field that can't really be duplicated anywhere else. Even though one huge way a school can lower the cost is by offering more courses online, they feel that it doesn't compare fully to what they do. Their defenses in that book are absolute nonsense and does nothing to help students. They were even a part of a symposium of professors that sought to find the means for them to defend the status quo.

    It's time that the concept and application of college needs to be updated to this century.

    •  I would stop teaching rather than teach online (0+ / 0-)

      No way, that's the death of education.

      Faculty pay is really low, to say the least. They get paid less than menial labor.

      If the administration isn't already aware that there have been many studies done by both congress, and previous administrations, and many professionals, on this subject, they are clueless.

      I'm sure they are already aware of the cost factors.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:10:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope the youngsters don't mistake me (0+ / 0-)

    .. for one of the "rich" once they start eating them.

    It's not terribly likely - what with my emaciated frame, hungry eyes, and my knife, fork, and napkin at the ready.

    So, I'll remove the cause - but not the symptom Don't dream it Be it.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 04:29:06 AM PDT

  •  We're barking up the wrong tree. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hrvatska, upstate NY, Odysseus

    The problem isn't that college is expensive or that graduates have big loan burdens.  The problem is that their jobs after graduation don't pay enough.  This whole discussion puts the burden of overall problems with our economy on a relatively philanthropic sector, for-profit parasites excluded.

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 04:36:12 AM PDT

  •  We need to be careful about how (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hrvatska

    our concerns about student loans are interpreted, because there is an organized and  concerted effort from the right to defund higher education.

    A couple points:

    1. Subsidized student loans are capped for undergraduates at $5.Xk, which is not a great amount when you consider they were capped at $3k over 25 years ago. This shows that the rise in availability of student loans is less than inflation, and it questions the correlation people make between loans and tuition rising.

    2. There is an IBR program run by the gov't that ties loan payments to salary (you pay below 10% of salary yearly). All loans are forgiven after either 20 years or 10 years if you're in the public sector.

    As long as students maintain the discipline of only taking gov't subsidized loans directly, then there should be no problem here, because after graduation, those loans are tied to your income and are forgiven after a period of years. The key is to only take gov't loans.

    The housing market question is interesting but I would argue that our housing market in the US has relied on easy credit to vastly tax our available infrastructure and resources. Housing is always going to be a bubble because we've gotten used to the idea of extending the city, living in vast spaces, thereby driving up the cost for maintaining communities, which hurts the economy. I'm not concerned about the housing market.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:08:48 AM PDT

  •  wow, that's a big number, but... (0+ / 0-)

    I feel like a more useful number might be the median student loan debt. Although, across the whole population that's probably zero. So, how many people have student loan debt, and among those people, what is the median amount of debt. For bonus points, then calculate both of those numbers for each year out of school. How much does the median debt shrink from 1 to 2 to 5 to 10 years out?

  •  All still part of an ongoing pattern intended to (0+ / 0-)

    break the middle class, destroy labor and create a global plantation from which secession will simply mean no food for you.

    Why aren't Americans RIOTING IN THE STREETS???

  •  in 50 & 60s parents saved for theor children's ed- (0+ / 0-)

    ucation. They gave up tings and Stuff, so ther kinds could go to college and come out without a debt. Student  grants and loans were meant for families who really could not afford to go to college. Now parents do not save for their children's college and depend on loans. Besides when I went to school we gave up Stuff & lived simply while in college

  •  Many (if not most) of us OWN the Student Debt (0+ / 0-)

    Although it has not come up in this thread (yet), frequently I see well-intentioned folks circulating petitions to "forgive the $1Trillion in student loan debt."

    Keep in mind that anyone with money on deposit in a bank OWNS part of that debt. This is not play money or Monopoly money. Every $1 in debt is owned by a bank or institution, and those institutions loan out OUR money.

    My student loans are all in the past and paid off now, but as I recall, no one held a gun to my head and forced me to sign the loan papers. It was my own decision to take on that loan for the education I was pursuing.

    To read many of the comments here, all of these student loan debtors "had not choice"... but they did. They could have 1) worked to save $$ before going to school; 2) joined the military to gain GI Bill benefits; 3) found colleges that offered full work-study programs; 4) pursued a profession (vocational training: plumber, mechanic, electrician, etc.) that did not require a college education.

    Life is all about choices, and it becomes increasingly irritating to see people complain about the outcomes from choices they made freely.

    •  Vocational training requires tuition... (0+ / 0-)

      ... joined the military? That's the answer.
      Many of the people with loans work on along the way.

      College is so much more expensive now than when you attended. It's a whole different ballgame. Loans are de rigeur precisely because the cost of public education is $20-25k a year.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:01:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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