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You may have heard NPR's report this morning about college's students' weird lack of information about their loans:

In fact, McWilliams isn't entirely sure what types of loans he's taken out — federal, private, subsidized, unsubsidized.

"Actually, I don't remember," he laughs. McWilliams seems to take some strange pleasure, though, in knowing he's not alone.

"This is an expensive school, so a lot of people have debt here," he says. "They don't look too deeply into [the cost or debt], they just take the money."

I dare you to tell me this isn't a bubble.

The article goes on to focus on the lack of transparency at universities, when explaining the cost to students and the types of financial aid they are receiving.  However, this ultimately boils down to a student---the person who signs the paper and is responsible for paying back the money---being only dimly aware of having taken out a mortgage-sized loan.  Another quote from the article:

"So there's this horrifying moment at the end of your senior year in college when they put everyone in an auditorium, and they give you the piece of paper that says how much money you owe," Bickens says. "There's this collective gasp."
Let me ask you something:  how can you gasp in shock at the magnitude of a loan you already took out, years ago?  How does one suddenly discover that he or she previously borrowed enough money to buy a house?  How can you be so unaware of what you've borrowed, that this information has to be revealed to you years later?  It's like they borrowed money in their sleep.

I can confirm this phenomenon first-hand, since part of my job is to advise college students.  I make sure to ask students if they have loans, what kind and how much.  Some kids know all about their loans:  they are wary of debt, and have debts on the order of 10-20K.  However, I also encounter kids who only know they have loans, and have no idea how much or what kind, or how much college even costs, much less specifics like the interest rate.  Upon further inquiry, I always find these kids have borrowed shocking amounts of money, sometimes more than an entire full-ride to the university.

I strongly believe that we can reduce the student loan crisis a great deal simply by addressing this weird financial somnambulism, and forcing cognizance during the lending process.  Education alone may not be the answer:  we need to understand from a sociological or psychological standpoint how a student, otherwise smart enough to attend college, can borrow large amounts with only vague awareness of having done so.  

As progressives, we naturally respond to a crisis by looking for flaws in our system (the lack of transparency, which must be fixed) or looking for bad actors, like lenders (whom we are trying to regulate); but the crisis is also made possible by a weird lack of awareness at the moment of signing.  What causes this, and how do we stop it?

Originally posted to Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's the Same for Every Issue Facing the USA. (12+ / 0-)

    Progressives don't know how to contact and inform the American mainstream.

    At this point I'd recommend finding a very brief way to communicate it to the Obama campaign, since he knows he needs the student vote and is aggressively pursuing it.

    Maybe a grassroots effort to get the message repeatedly to the campaign?

    You're right that it's a bubble; everything financial has been since Carter left office. Student debt is greater now than credit card debt.

    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 Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:06:03 AM PDT

  •  I thought colleges had to do loan awareness (4+ / 0-)

    classes?  seminars?  since they are rated by how much those loans are payed back?  They did when I was in college anyway.

    •  They did when I was in college too (4+ / 0-)

      If they still do this, it doesn't seem to be working.  

      In any case, we were given a mandatory loan awareness class when we entered college, after we had signed for our first round of federal loans.  It didn't really affect the act of signing per se; it was more like an explanation of how much money you will have to pay back and how you will be able to afford that.

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:21:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  y'know, I really feel like I was baited (17+ / 0-)

        and now I'm being switched.

        Let me explain--I'm in my 50s. When I lost my well-paying career job a couple years ago, I was collecting unemployment. Everyone--I mean, the state, the local colleges, and commercials--started screaming "Go back to school! You could be eligible for grants, finish your education at no cost...."



        Yadda, squared.

        So I signed up--and then it was "Well, you have to apply for these loans, in case you don't get the grants...." And guess what? You start school, and 3 weeks after add/drop, you find aren't getting the grant.

        Now you HAVE TO take the loan, because you have no way to pay for the classes you're taking.

        And I'll tell you something that you surely already know: "student loans" aren't even what they were ten years ago, when I started going (back) to college. I honest to God couldn't tell you what rate I'm going to have, when I finally start paying it back--these new "servicers" either cannot or will not give you a damned straight answer!  

        So I beg of you--don't assign all the blame to the students. Yeah, some of them are clueless, because Mommy and Daddy did most of the legwork and yes, that is sad and more than a little shocking. But us older folks are caught up in this mess too, and believe me, it's not for lack of trying to wade through the legalese, their so-called "documentation". Some of this blame can surely be laid on these new servicers.

        It is time to #Occupy Media.

        by lunachickie on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 04:03:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you!! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lonely Texan, Cassandra Waites

          I posted below about my story, and I agree.  They can never give you a straight answer.  I could never find out what my original principal even was.  And no, not the "principal" that the umpteenth servicer had bought the loan at...  My loans had been bundled and re-bundled and sold so many times that I had no clue what my terms were or what my principal was.

          I also started college at a time when loans were a new concept.  My first four years were so cheap that I didn't need a loan; I got a small scholarship and that took care of it.  It wasn't until a few years later that I went back and saw that tuition had tripled that I needed loans, and I did a year abroad.

          But an education was so important to me that I didn't care - and I never thought that I would have had so much trouble paying it back!!

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:16:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This is the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, La Gitane, Lonely Texan

        same age group that we get to go stand in front of bullets for rich people.

        I remember being 18 and, yes, it is a bubble. It can be anyway. It is not an age to expect most people to be able to really understand taking on long-term debt.

    •  They still do. And students (13+ / 0-)

      have to go in to the financial aid office and sign their promissory notes in person. They are told exactly how much they are borrowing and at what interest rate and the conditions under which they will begin to repay the loan. In my experience, most students sign the documents without reading them. That's probably why they don't remember anything about it later on.

      He who is carried away by his own importance seldom has far to walk back.

      by StateOfGrace on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:11:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think a big part of it is that (19+ / 0-)

        a lot of these students grew up on the internet where we are required to agree to legally binding documents on a regular basis.  EULAs, site rules, etc.  The idea of something being legally binding and "real" just isn't very real when you sign and ignore more than one every day.  We don't even think about the legal relationship we are entering into every time we post a comment here on DailyKos.  Certainly student loans have far larger of an impact, but signing a document in no way makes that impact clear.  If we read every legal document we agreed to we'd have no time to do anything else, and it's hard to know which ones we really should read.  That's the source of the problem you're talking about.

        I'd add that there are other reasons that students are shocked at the loans, mainly because you get them one by one and then when you see them all in one place it's much bigger than you remember.

        There's also the fact that many students don't have a choice but to take out loans and worrying about what they are taking out while they are at school is just another level of stress they don't need to worry about.  It won't matter until after college, so why worry.  There's a very nihilistic attitude about the future these days, for pretty obvious reasons.  Honestly , it's hard to blame people for not worrying about their loans when there is the wonderful example that the banks set when they fucked up and couldn't pay.  Why worry if you know that the government will help if it gets too big to fail, which student loans are at now.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:41:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can't buy this argument, though. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lasgalen Lothir, Samulayo

          I also click on EULAs and site agreements and agree to all sorts of random stuff when installing software.

          However, I still paid close attention to the mortgage paperwork when I bought a house, and knew the terms of my car loan when I bought a car.

          So I doubt that clicking EULAs all day will make a kid more likely to sign a mortgage or car loan or student loan without looking or thinking about it.  I instead suspect that some other psychological or sociological factor is behind this phenomenon.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:53:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When you grow up doing it and all you have to do (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladybug53, nchristine

            to get loans is click on some buttons on the internet then it really does come into play.  When I was at SFSU I never had to go see the financial aid people, I could have done everything online.  It definitely makes a difference when it looks the same as everything else on line.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:54:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You have much more choice (6+ / 0-)

            when you are buying a home or a car, besides the fact that you are only taking out one single loan at one time versus sometimes over a dozen various student loans over a period of several years.  It is much more complicated.  

            There is a hell of a lot more pressure to pay for an education - your whole future is at stake!  Don't want to take out a mortgage?   Rent.  Don't want to borrow to buy a car?  Buy a used car that you can afford.  Don't want to borrow to go to school?  Well, sorry, goodbye future - Walmart here I come!!  So yes, you are going to sign anything in order to get that education.  I would bet that you have had very few students who decided not to borrow and decide not to go to school.

            Tuition is too expensive, period.  There's nothing wrong with the Harvards and Yales, but we need to get back to the era of good, solid state universities that were affordable.  That is the problem - don't blame the students who are up against Wall Streeters and bankers who make millions figuring out how to swindle people.  

            A tired, stressed-out 19 year old who has zero experience borrowing money, who is totally pressured to go to school or be a failure, is no match for a Wall Street bankster!!

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:27:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Never happened for me. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm lucky enough to have parents who could pay off all my college loans before I got my PhD (No interest accrues until you're out of school, and my PhD was paid for compeltely by grants and TAing), but I never knew how much in debt I was vs how much my parents were paying.

      •  Where? (6+ / 0-)

        I managed 10K in loan debt without ever setting foot in the financial aid office. We were permitted to send the promissory note by either fax or mail, if I recall. I also had to do all this crud with the IRS by a combination of fax and email.

        You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

        by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:41:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I work at a (7+ / 0-)

          university and every school I work with requires that their students come in to sign promissory notes. Are you saying that your school also lets students fax or mail the promissory note back to the school? That seems like an invitation for fraud. How do they know that the person signing the note is really the student?

          He who is carried away by his own importance seldom has far to walk back.

          by StateOfGrace on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:03:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We could sign our online I believe (3+ / 0-)

            I'm pretty sure I did.  That was just the first one.  After that we could just go to the website and request more money if we wanted or needed it.  Up to the maximum allowed.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:35:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know (10+ / 0-)

            I work at a University as well. This was my experience though when I was an undergraduate. It is possibly out-of-date now. Previously, I am sure that I didn't set foot in the financial aid office, however. In fact, I bet my life on the fact that I didn't. Much too personal to explain why I am so sure, however. Fraudulent behavior regarding finances at the University-level? Say it isn't so! ;)

            I remember having to send something in to FAFSA and faxing documents to the IRS. This was a while ago now, obviously. I can't recall off the top of my head if this was pre or post-internet since I was in college while that shifted.

            Now you do have me curious, however. I will have to check into our student financial aid office when on campus tomorrow.

            Although I think the ultimate point I am trying to make here is that I do not feel -- and this is right now as well -- that students do have a sense of what they are getting themselves into because there is little explanation given to these very young folks about this from all that I've seen and heard. For example, I recently advised a student switching to a double major in my field. During our advising session, I brought up the fact that he would need about three more semesters of college to do this, and asked whether it would be affordable. He seemed completely clueless and said "I just fill out the FAFSA and they take care of it." I really did try to find out because tuition has been rising continuously here, and many students have been unable to continue (since course offerings have also been declining concomitantly). Anecdotally speaking, this is really a very usual sort of a thing to hear, at least from freshmen.

            Beyond all of this, I think the issue of public education itself as a non-profit, fully subsidized program is absolutely at stake and should be the greater topic of discussion here, alongside our economic situation and its higher level educational "demands" -- even beyond what the diarist has said. Like I've said elsewhere, our priorities are appalling.  

            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

            by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:44:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Excellent reply. (3+ / 0-)

              I went to college in the early to late 80's (five years undergrad and two and a half grad).  My schooling was paid for through student loans, my working during the summer, and the parents providing quite a bit.  When I left school, I had a debt of just under 30k.  During my time, I HAD to go into the financial aide office to get the official disbursement of the financial aid.  The lines were hours long.  We also had to fill out the FASFA forms (where they were mailed to Iowa City(ACT) and were hand entered into a dummy terminal, mailed back to the student for suspected errors (couldn't read the writing etc) and for them to double check the entries - I worked one summer for ACT doing just this).  I know that I had to go to the bank for one of the loans, with dad, and the loan officer discussed what the deal was with the loan - I was lucky and my rate had gone down to 8%, as it was as much as 20% a few years earlier.  It was a huge advancement when they moved to having students enroll for classes over the phone (touch-tone only and pressing lots of numbers that you could hear the computer decoding).

              I was extremely aware of what things cost and what I was responsible for, it was how I was raised.  Also, all the arguments my parents had over money....... and mom making it painfully clear what their expectations were.

              However, several of my fellow students didn't have a clue.  Some had a clue and were doing creative financing on their check books while in college.  I knew of students that partied pretty hard as well.... they have this money.....

              When I went back to school in my 30's and again in my 40's, the attitudes of fellow students was far different from when I was in college the first time.  The first time I did go to a State University and the next two times were at a community college.  It was opposite from the first time, few were very clear on their responsibilities and the majority 'so what, something will work out', or just expected money to show up.  When I was working for a university, it was not uncommon to hear, it's only money, almost some type of denial of just how much.  Of course there were many that had better understanding.  Almost as if they expect to be given money for x,y, or z and someone will continue to give them money and once they graduate, the real money bomb will arrive.

              •  My experience was very similar (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassandra Waites, nchristine

                because, like you, I "took a break." Twice. Over more than a decade in between. When I started, we had a card catalog in the library and sign up lines for registration that were two hours or longer to stand in. You would hold a hard copy of the course catalog in your hands to decide on your classes. To drop a class, you had to go to an advisors office and petition physically, along with an explanation. I also used the pay typewriters and wrote everything in longhand first; no typos here. :)

                And I also remember the early computer labs. Google didn't exist then and usenet/IRC was all the rage. Dot matrix printers.

                Then it shifted. It shifted more and more to completely automated. I've never really thought about the psychological impact on student borrowing habits until today (and again, I would absolutely look at this in large context of the entire economic and social and political structure too). But I HAVE given a lot of thought to how this shift impacts student learning, motivation, and other issues which come up in my field which seem particularly linked to explicit technological use. Obviously, I have a lot of thoughts about this which are off-topic. But my overall point is a failure to connect things because they're pretty disembodied, hastily presented, and seem to be easily corrected with a backspace. I cannot fault students for this though. It's the climate in which they are living. Sorry to sound like a Luddite. It just never fails to amaze me how different things are with different experience. No different than moving from one culture to another, really. We're in a different culture than we were twenty or thirty years ago. So this conversation is definitely going to be seen differently by folks from differing generations, in part. I'm a generation-bender, so maybe my insight into this is particular.

                You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

                by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:38:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  So I just looked on the FAFSA website (6+ / 0-)

            and it says that you simply sign electronically with your four-digit pin number. That's what I basically recall myself, although it's really hazy.


            It doesn't mention going in. You fill out your tax forms. Download the form. Fill it out. Sign it with an encrypted four-digit electronic pin number. Renew as needed. Nowhere does it say you need go into financial aid or talk to a single human being during this process, nor did I ever go in myself, nor did I speak to anyone other than someone from the IRS, and then someone AFTER my debt was incurred.

            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

            by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:51:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The link you provided is to (6+ / 0-)

              a private company that apparently helps students figure out what they are eligible for but it's not associated with the Department of Education's Free Application for Federal Student Aid site. At the bottom of that site's page it says:

     is not a United States Government website (Try: or associated in any way with the William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program, the U.S. Department of Education or Federal Student Aid.
              It also appears that that company deals in private loans.

              You are right that the federal government FAFSA site allows you to complete and submit the financial aid application online using a pin number but I don't think it allows you to borrow directly through that site. All the government website does is determine your eligibility for aid. Your school is the one who then tells you what you're getting - and that includes any federal direct student loans.

              He who is carried away by his own importance seldom has far to walk back.

              by StateOfGrace on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:47:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  It's definitely an invitation to fraud. (7+ / 0-)

            On the other end of things, I teach at a community college and, when the budget allows, a major state university.

            One of the problems we have at the community college are students who sign up in the first few weeks for a class, and then disappear without actually dropping the course.  If they drop the course, I understand some of their loan money gets revoked immediately and they have to pay it back, but if they fail the course, they get to keep it.  It's kind of a short-sighted "scam" because they have to repay it--plus interest--eventually anyway, but I typically have at least one student (out of two classes of 30 each) per semester who does it.  I usually drop them myself on the last drop date, and I've gotten a few howls of outrage ("I swear, I was going to write four essays and do the final project all in three weeks!").

          •  I did everything online or by mail. It was a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            private loan though (Sallie Mae) so federal may be different.

        •  How long ago? (0+ / 0-)

          They've strengthened Truth-in-Lending laws significantly in recent years.

    •  Nope! They don't. (7+ / 0-)

      It's actually 100% possible to get a student loan without ever talking to a person at all right now, since it's all electronically handled through FAFSA. See my comment downthread.

      You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

      by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:39:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not the school I went to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I had a small amount of loans (less than 10K), and never once did I ever hear about, or attend, any classes or seminars about loan repayment. FYI, I attended a large, public university in the early to mid 00's.

      Husband looking for work in NoVA/DC! Skilled in web content manag. & Photoshop. Please email me at if you have any leads!

      by fille americaine on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:00:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  they do, but (4+ / 0-)

      at the end. What's really missing is information about the cost of the loans as you're going forward, or before you start. It's easy to take out 4K in loans every semester and not recognize that's a piece of a $30K or $40K total loan

    •  I nearly took a loan, and sat through such a class (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive

      We were carefully told loans were dischargeable in bankruptcy.

      Which ended up not being true for anyone in the room, because the rule changed before we graduated. I seem to recall my classmates who did take loans being called back in for a refresher class on 'what the law change means for us'.

      Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

      by Cassandra Waites on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:28:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For me it was nothing but an online survey (2+ / 0-)

      It was just basic questions about the loans and repayment. There was nothing about the amount you are getting loaned, the effects over 4+ years of taking a loan with compound interest, or the effects of not being able to pay the interest on unsubsidized loans which then gets put into the principle.

      IMO there should be no interest for student loans in the U.S., it should all be government provided, or they should be allowed a small processing fee if it is a private company.

  •  I was not informed about the kinds of loans I had. (15+ / 0-)

    UNTIL I finished my degree and was handed a form to sign that would make my parents responsible for my debt if I died without it being paid off.

    The whole system is awful...

  •  Let's see, we spent a few trillion on Iraq (23+ / 0-)

    and put it on the national credit card.

    Now what was your question again.

    Oh, yes, Republicans are very concerned about the national debt.

    No, I mean, student loan debt is now greater than credit card debt.

    No, that wasn't it.

    Seriously, you must be kidding.

    What choice does a student have?

    Get a high school diploma and fight to become a burger flipper? Join the marines and get used by the oil companies to secure oil fields in hot and distant lands? Or go to college and into debt?

    When the number of dollars is large enough, it's just a big number you don't understand.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:10:37 AM PDT

    •  Two points: (9+ / 0-)
      What choice does a student have?
      As I said above, I encounter students who have borrowed small amounts warily, and students who have borrowed unnecessarily large amounts without much awareness.  Clearly students have a choice, or else they'd all be in the second category.
      When the number of dollars is large enough, it's just a big number you don't understand.
      A student loan is not an incomprehensibly large number, however.  It's an amount that, in our modern era, usually ranges somewhere between a car loan and a home loan.  

      People are perfectly able to understand dollar amounts of this magnitude.  This is one reason we don't have a car loan crisis parallel to the student loan crisis.

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:26:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with everything you said. In addition, (10+ / 0-)

        students sometimes have very unrealistic ideas about the amount of money they will be earning at their first job right out of college.

        He who is carried away by his own importance seldom has far to walk back.

        by StateOfGrace on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:13:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agree, but don't forget DENIAL- (7+ / 0-)

        They know it's "a lot of money" and don't want to take a hard look at the details because they know they won't like it. Seriously, maybe a peer-driven education campaign on every campus will be necessary, sort of like with awareness of violence against women and drinking awareness, where seniors stage education events and do peer advising to keep the younger ones (and their peers) aware of the magnitude of their debt.

        •  It's a combination (7+ / 0-)

          Part denial, part inexperience on the part of students, and part overestimation on their earning power once they graduate and underestimation of other living expenses.

          And the loans are incremental - you might borrow one year, then the next more the next, and more the next...but not fully grasp the total.

          And students in their late teens to early twenties often still have the "superman complex" where they feel invulnerable and don't get concerned about long-term problems.  When you're a freshman, paying off student loans is still years away, so why worry about it now?

          •  Wow, sell them the loan when they're reckless, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and show them the bill when they're older and wiser. How wise and compassionate!

            How about a Freshman Orientation film that every new student has to watch, showing the previous graduating class's "collective gasp of horror" over their cumulative bill? That might work!

            •  That's actually a very good idea. (0+ / 0-)

              You can fight risky behavior with a public relations campaign that draws attention to the risky behavior and convinced people that they don't want to be like that.

              Perhaps we can look at other successful or unsuccessful attempts to avert crises in public health and public safety, e.g. wearing safety belts, fighting teen smoking, discouraging unprotected sex, and see what methods we can use to coact people away from incognizant borrowing.

              I guess we can also look at other attempts to fight incognizant borrowing, too.  Student loans aren't the only case of this:  we also have the problem of credit card use and abuse, which also disproportionally affected college students.

              Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

              by Caj on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 11:57:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  the only way to borrow small amounts warily (25+ / 0-)

        if if you already have a pile of money to draw upon. either you don;t go to school, or you get into debt, or you have a pile of money (or relatives) to rely upon.

        unless you're telling people who don't have a pile of money to give up on ever getting near the middle class, i don't see how painting this as a failure of personal responsibility makes any sense. it's like telling people with low incomes that they should save and invest better, when they can't make ends meet on their income already.

        what's the other option, if you don;t have the money?

        •  It's blaming kids for not having rich parents (13+ / 0-)

          The diarist is using Republican frames.

          Republicans love to blame the individual.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:35:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i think the diarist is coming from a perspective (7+ / 0-)

            of compassion and concern for these students with huge debts, but yeah, i think that's the missing piece to the puzzle.

            •  I think he is concerned about the students (9+ / 0-)

              but he's analyzing the problem from the "personal responsibility" perspective of a well off older adult. He's not coming up with a functional answer because he is thinking in terms used by "conservatives". Conservatives tend to blame the poor and the weak for systemic failures.

              look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

              by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:02:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  there is often a generational thing as well (22+ / 0-)

                in most of these discussions, people who grew up and went to college back before the state defunded everything often have little idea how impossible it is to get an education without debt, because it was cheap or free a generation or two ago (hell, it was a quarter of what it is now at the UC just a decade ago!).

                •  From what I can tell this is a *huge* part of (21+ / 0-)

                  the problem.  Really, any time someone says that students need to work their way through school it's a dead giveaway that they are from an older generation that had reasonable school costs and that was heavily subsidized by the government.

                  There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:41:49 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  When I started college, the community college (4+ / 0-)

                  rate was $16 per credit hour.  My first semester at the state university was $1400 for room/board and tuition.  Now it costs upwards of $9k per semester.  More than six times what I had to pay.  I started college in the fall of 1983.

                  •  It's higher than that in California (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dotdash2u, wu ming, FishOutofWater

                    UC cost about $5,000 in the mid 80's, and is now more than $30,000 per year.

                    Meanwhile, the CSU was about $2,000 per year at that time, and now close to $25,000.

                    That is ridiculous.

                    And it's gone up rather quickly specifically in the past ten years. It held steady through the '90's into the early '00's fairly well and then ballooned differently in each system, with the UC raising tuition first.

                    Source: widely available public data (culled from online databases... it's not letting me cut and paste anything over, sorry, and too much info to type longhand -- LA times is one source).

                    You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

                    by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:00:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm not sure those numbers are directly comparable (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      mahakali overdrive, dotdash2u

                      I think your mid 80's numbers are tuition only, and your current numbers are tuition + living expenses.

                      It's still appalling.

                      I'll give you another point of comparison.

                      For UC in the mid 80's, you could expect to pay about $45,000 for 4 years of school, including your living expenses. You could expect to get a job that would pay $30k, maybe even $40k+ if you had a desirable degree, upon graduation.

                      Today, you should expect that same education to cost $150,000 ($30k x 5 years) and to get a job that pays maybe $40k when you graduate.

                      Kids are trying to make it work using the community colleges, but they're taking 3 years for the two year degrees too.

                      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                      by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:11:53 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  That sounds about right (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        My father graduated from a UC in the early 80's, and I recall him talking about his debt but then got a job paying decently and it was no longer an issue really.

                        When I graduated from a UC, I wasn't able to find a job despite a year of looking. So I went to grad school (due to personal and complex situations, I'm not at liberty to explain how I paid for this, sorry, but my situation was highly unique here). The actual cost, however, is high.

                        So I can find this online:


                        Which says that between 1983 and 2011, fees (and I presume these to mean just tuition) are $1,235 per year at the UC's. However, they are, $10,302 respectively. Right now, they're more though still.

                        As for budget, tuition and so on, not looking at the other article now but it was talking about cost of living. Not sure what the cost was calculated at, and can't find data right now.

                        The financial aid office should oblige a friendly professor coming by on her work hour with such data tomorrow, I would think! It's probably in the library archives somewhere at any rate, through old student newspapers. Fortunately, our main librarian is a very close friend. I'll just ask her to lead me to the old newspapers! Problem solved about cost of living. It WILL be mentioned there since it always IS -- generally weekly.

                        You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

                        by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:34:16 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  The "fees" increased dramatically from 1983 to (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          dotdash2u, Cassandra Waites

                          1990. I think by 1990 UC was closing in on $5k. So my mid-80's benchmark may be different than yours. :-)

                          I had thought as a freshman that we were splurging in choosing the fancy private college. It turned out that I paid less than I would have at UCLA thanks to the better financial aid and the heartstopping increases at UC during that time.

                          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                          by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:49:03 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Fees usually means tuition plus (0+ / 0-)

                            more money that individual institutions within either the UC and CSU systems tack on mandatorily for things like Counseling Services or Student Body Services, just to be clear. These can amount to over $1,000 in some cases. Sometimes people refer to "fees" to mean budget, housing, and tuition. I don't know how it was being referenced in the first article which I basically paraphrased from. Meaning that whatever index was being measured simply wasn't being made clear by the article. But I hope I made that clear?

                            As for benchmarks, the first was 1983 and was stated as such. The other was the early 80's, prior to 1983. These are all republished in graph form in the link which I included from the 1960's to the present for both the CSU and UC system, if I recall which link I posted? So no real variables here. How much did these Universities cost? A lot less than they do now, particularly if adjusted for wages and unemployment and, as I've suggested they also should be, for course availability. Considerably less... often 1/5th to 1/10th.

                            The highest tuition hikes are shown as being from the late 70's to the early 80's, and then again in the 00's. The first resulted in strikes, so it's easy to find articles about. The second was more abrupt, with some hikes occurring twice in the same year. These were probably the impetus behind student occupations at things like OccupyCal and the infamous incident with Katehi's walk of shame.  

                            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

                            by mahakali overdrive on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 07:04:39 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
                but he's analyzing the problem from the "personal responsibility" perspective of a well off older adult.
                Certainly you cannot blame a widespread crisis on a failure of personal responsibility---and it's pointless to do so, because it doesn't offer any solution to the problem.

                On the other hand, we need to fix this phenomenon of incognizant borrowing.   It's a real phenomenon, it is widespread, and it is a driver of the student loan crisis.  

                I feel it is counterproductive to frame this in terms of blame, or to dismiss the problem because you see it as blaming kids.  Like it or not, the loan crisis is caused by many factors, one of which is unwary borrowing, and to fix the system we have to do something about it.

                Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:14:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yeah right. (4+ / 0-)

                  I say the problem is skyrocketing tuition costs that are a result of austerity policies.  That's your problem.

                  Opening up the student loan business to the market was a huge mistake.  A few people made shittons of money taking advantage of people like me.  I don't feel bad one bit.

                  "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                  by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:34:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I don't think the students had much choice (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mahakali overdrive, wu ming

                  The sad thing is, their alternative is to do a two year degree only. Or, if their talents lie this way, to go towards a plumbing or mechanic apprenticeship.

                  There aren't any affordable four year colleges any more.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:14:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Unless you're upper-middle class (4+ / 0-)

                    to upper class, like 1 kid, two parents with good jobs and low debt/spending from a few rich pockets in the nation.

                    My school bombs at accepting applications from its actual service district, accepting a HUGE percentage of kids from Southern California (someone else said Orange County, and many of mine are from thereabouts... )

                    It is outrageous to me.

                    I feel that kids who can do well in the trades might have better luck and a better feeling of accomplishment. But the US war on unions has left the trades also in a bad state where it's hard to get a job (even a sometimes dangerous one with tough hours). My ex-husband is in the trades, makes about 70K per yer but has four kids and a wife in an expensive area. He is barely "middle class" if even. We filed our taxes here and made just over 55K. We have one child and live in an expensive area. We are not middle class but working poor still FOR OUR AREA, on a paycheck-to-paycheck each month. We have next to no expenses and live as simply as possible. He grew up wealthier, so this is new for him. I'm extremely frugal. Money is such a source of stress for him that at his last doctor's visit, his blood pressure was elevated for no reason. I'm afraid he'll have a heart attack lately. He works, he cries. I work, I break down myself but mainly over him. Personally, I'm used to being broke and never expected to not have roommates even as an adult. As pathetic as that sounds. The house looks the house in the Young Ones (ok, mild exaggeration) due to the fact that we both work, teaching, 7 days a week and have since last August, with the only break a short one which involved seeing family in another state on their dime, and then doing course prep at the computer for days and days.

                    I don't remember what I was saying -- sorry, typing while a little inebriated at this point (helps me sleep since the alarm goes off too early for me to "be myself" and go to bed at 3 am...!)

                    You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

                    by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:59:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  This is a dangerous logical fallacy (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lasgalen Lothir
                Conservatives tend to blame the poor and the weak for systemic failures.
                It is not blaming anyone, or "using republican frames," to recognize, understand and try to prevent risky behavior, or to recognize its role in making a crisis worse.

                Let me ask you something:  are you opposed to sex education?  I mean, all that talk about using a condom and avoiding unprotected sex just smacks of "personal responsibility."

                And trying to stop the spread of STDs by telling kids to stop with risky behavior?  That's blaming the individual, right?  Blaming the patient for the misdeeds of virii and bacteria.  

                How about we get rid of sex ed and all of its "right wing frames," and focus our attention on the bad actors, i.e. the pathogens, rather than getting all old-fogey on the kids and telling them what not to do?  Does that sound like smart public policy to you?  Does that sound more progressive and less republican?

                See, there is a big logical fallacy in your posts.  You're taking a logical and obvious way to mitigate a public crisis---identify and limit risky behavior---and reading it as some sort of assignment of blame and punishment of the individual with "republican frames."  

                It isn't, however.  If anything, the conservative response to this kind of prevention is to try to prevent it or shut it down, because socialism, and because of our freedom to not know about condoms or our freedom to not wear seat belts or our freedom to do whatever with money without the big bad government telling us what we shouldn't do.

                Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                by Caj on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 07:32:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know about the aim of the diary (13+ / 0-)

            but I do know that I constantly am concerned that my students can't afford to go to college because of how the student loan system is set up. For one thing, the rate is outrageous. Also, they keep changing the terms. It's extremely hard to comprehend. All I can draw from is my own experience teaching at a public institution here, as well as having attended one as a student. It strikes me as a botched system which could easily be reformed.

            But I agree with you about Iraq and our priorities as a Nation.

            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

            by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:45:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree. (5+ / 0-)

          Students can and do get through college with smallish loan amounts, despite starting out without a pile of money.  

          This is possible with a combination of Pell grants, scholarships, living off campus (it's about half the cost of dorm living at my university) and working.

          As I wrote in the diary, I advise students who have small loan amounts and students who have large loan amounts; the small-loaners are not rich, just paranoid (nobody here is really all that rich.)  

          Those who are isolated from their loans and from the cost of college are more likely to pay full price for everything, and put it all, like 100%, on credit.  Those people who see what they're borrowing and freak out will make affordable decisions (living off-campus is about half the cost of dorm living out here,) or decide to work, or pursue other forms of funding.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:06:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The youth unemployment rate is very high (15+ / 0-)

            and so is college tuition so I'm not buying your main argument.  Obviously, there's a group of high achieving students who manage money well, but that doesn't mean that the system will allow all students the options available to the top achievers.

            Sure the best students can get good summer jobs, etc. However, most students struggle to find jobs after they graduate.

            Why aren't all students above average like they are in Lake Woebegone?

            look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

            by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:27:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Marie, Caj, ladybug53, Jerry J

              Because fully 90% of my community college students have jobs.  They're not the kind of jobs good, snotty middle-class kids might want--they are burger-flippers and cashiers at K-Mart--but they do, in fact, work, which proves to me that it's not nearly as difficult as some keep pretending that it is.  I hear them talking about their jobs all the time, either in class discussions when it's relevant, or right before class or during the break when they're comparing notes about whose employer is more flexible about school.  Two of the students in my 2:00 p.m. class this semester work at places I go to all the time (one's a waiter, the other's a cashier at the grocery store across the street from me).  These aren't "the best students"--these are your B- and C-average kids, yet the manage to get part-time jobs on the side to make some money.

              On the other hand, my university students are simply too snotty to have jobs.  They make vague, airy statements about "needing to focus on their studies" as the primary excuse, but in my entire time teaching at the local university, I'm only aware of a handful of my own students who had any work experience at all.

              Let's not pretend there aren't jobs.  It's just that there's a certain kind of classism that leads certain students to turn their noses up at working for Kroger's, or waiting tables, or shelving books for the local library while they're in college.  Those are the students Caj is talking about, who put 100% of their expenses on credit.

              I'll tell you, from my experience in both worlds--the community college and the university--the smartest students, hands-down, are my community college students.  They're going to get out of school with a degree that's deeply discounted, maybe with some debt but probably a useful degree (say, in nursing), and start off life more-or-less in the black, because they do all the things you claim is "IMPOSSIBLE!" in today's world.

              •  Absolutely not true (6+ / 0-)

                I certainly didn't turn up my nose at jobs.  And when I was in community college I did work, and it's a lot easier.  Community college is far better organized for those who work and take classes than four year university is.

                These aren't "the best students"--these are your B- and C-average kids, yet the manage to get part-time jobs on the side to make some money.
                You do realize that working may in fact be the reason they have lower grades than they might otherwise?

                And for every person that goes through community college and transfers or graduates how many don't?  How many are just fucking around on mom and dad's dime, killing time?  Because those folks far outnumbered the driven people when I was there seven years ago or so.

                There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:05:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is absolutely true. (0+ / 0-)

                  You cannot tell me that my experience is "absolutely not true".  It absolutely is.

                  I've taught for twelve years, eight of those at the community college in addition to the university.  I have seen literally thousands of students.  Your one data point--your own experience--pales in comparison to the number of data points I can draw on simply off the top of my head.

                  Working while going to a university is not an impossibility--I did it myself for four years.  So did virtually all of my college friends and both of my brothers.  Delivering pizzas, working at the neighborhood grocery store, shelving books for the city library, waiting tables--you name it, we did it, and we worked around our class schedules.

                  You think a "B" is a "lower grade"?  LOL  But to speak to your point, I'm talking B- or C-level high school students.  Once they hit my classes--both at the community college and the university--the grade spreads are virtually identical: a huge number of C's, a smaller number of B's, maybe two A's, a couple of D's, and F's for people who didn't show or didn't finish the work.  And I've tracked my statistics--the spreads, over time, are identical (with, of course, variation based on an individual class).  If the university students are "focusing on their studies" (HA HA!--gimme a break, they're going to the Kappa Alpha kegger), they're doing a piss-poor job of it, I'll tell you that.

                  •  You didn't address my point at all (6+ / 0-)

                    My point was that it is much harder to find a job in a four year institute, which is exactly where the problems are with student loans.  Like I said, that isn't true for community colleges.

                    So I guess you're right, my subject line was incorrect.

                    There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                    by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 05:13:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No, I addressed your point completely. (0+ / 0-)

                      I went to a four-year university.  I worked the whole time.  So did all my college friends.  I was not talking about community college there--I was talking about university.

                      If you just want to ignore things to make yourself "right", feel free.  When you're done, put the blinders back in the bin so someone else can use them.

                      •  So, your experience is what you are talking about (4+ / 0-)

                        Not what is true everywhere and for all time. And when did you graduate?

                        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                        by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:14:09 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I graduated decades ago. (0+ / 0-)

                          You're going to respond that "the job market is different from when you went to college--students can't find jobs!"

                          You're creating a rhetorical game of Whack-A-Mole here.  I know students can find jobs because the vast majority of my community college students have jobs, just like I did when I was in a four-year university.

                          You suggested that university students have higher grades because they don't work.  I know that's not true, because my university students average the same grades as my community college students (and I've got thousands of data points on that).

                          You suggested that community college students' grades suffer because they work.  See above--they're getting the same kinds of grades, at least in my classes.

                          You suggested that there aren't any jobs for four-year university students.  That's clearly untrue, because my community college students are able to find jobs.  It's not like community college course schedules are terribly accommodating for working people--they aren't.

                      •  The job market tanked. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Cassandra Waites, burlydee

                        You are talking about ancient history.

                        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

                        by FishOutofWater on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 04:25:08 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  So if they (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lasgalen Lothir

                all went to community college these jobs would pay enough to pay their tuition and books, etc.?

                Is the snotty university student thinking the job won't make a dent in his tuition so why bother? Have they all been told they are going to make so much when they get out of school that debt is irrelevant?

                •  My community college, yes. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jerry J

                  Our tuition is $26 per credit hour.  A 12-unit full load is $312 per semester, or $624 per year.  Books amount to about $300 per semester (or so), and let's throw in other incidental fees and round it up to $1,500 per year in tuition and books.

                  Mostly, the university students I'm talking about come from Orange County, and mummy and daddy pay for everything for them, including the Beemer and the condo they're living in "for school" (Seriously, there's an entire condo complex behind where I live that used to cater to parents-of-university-students.  It's cratering now as many of those parents--who thought they were going to make a killing when Biff graduated and they sold the condo he lived in--are left holding the bag.)  In my entire time teaching at the university, I've known a small handful who had jobs--including one who was a welder for her father's auto body shop--but most don't.  

          •  I tried to find a job when I was in school (12+ / 0-)

            and it just didn't happen.  It's even harder now that you have no control over your schedule because the classes that you need to graduate are offered on a very limited basis.  I briefly had a job, for part of a summer, and then lost it as soon as I had to go back to school.  It makes people very unlikely to hire students.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:58:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  No, I don't agree with this (9+ / 0-)

            Student unemployment is 80% right now.

            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

            by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:21:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Pell grants and scholarships (10+ / 0-)

            can't support all students. Pell grants are need based, and scholarships can be either need or merit based. Not all students qualify. It's unrealistic to think so. Also, in many places, dorms are cheaper than living off campus.

          •  What other forms? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            For significant amounts. Not a $100 "scholarship" or a minimum wage part-time job. What are you suggesting? Share a cheap apartment or live at home? OK. And what else?

        •  It doesn't make any sense. (12+ / 0-)

          Back before 2008, the meritocracy class on Daily Kos would admonish me that my economic problems were due to my own immaturity and my lack of skill to offer the labor market.  But my generation was never given a chance.

          Now, I can go back to that labor market by dropping out, even though it's worse than it was before, or I can keep going to school, even though I'm struggling just to afford utilities and rent and food, without making a chip in my debt, and have student employment and resume experience.

          Not much of a choice.

          Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

          by Nulwee on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:36:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It's not an incomprehensible number to you (20+ / 0-)

        Most students have no idea how much money they will be making in 5 to 10 years and have little experience with money. Obviously, some students are more mature and experienced.

        It's easy for you because you have a steady, predictable situation. However, I dare you to predict the job market for graduates 5 years out.

        I am appalled by the lack of systemic analysis I see in this diary. Stop blaming students for institutional failures. German students don't face ship loads of debt. We have a systemic problem because costs to students keep rising while wages for blue collar workers are falling. And there are many more systemic issues I don't have time to discuss.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:29:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
          Most students have no idea how much money they will be making in 5 to 10 years and have little experience with money.
          On the other hand, all college students should be able to take a loan amount and figure out the monthly payment, because that's high school mathematics---and because we now have loan calculators that will do it for you.

          A college student should also be able to compare that monthly payment to a monthly paycheck , because you can easily learn the median starting salary for an engineer (say,) or the median salary of a college graduate.

          I cannot buy the defense that college students can't comprehend these numbers.  Looking at the coursework that college students are expected to pass in their first year, I cannot see them as unable to comprehend 5-digit dollar amounts.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:00:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is easy, easy enough that (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladybug53, dilutedviking, Caj

            you have to wonder why the school can't just do this for them.  The people disbursing the loans know their major, and they know how much they are taking out.  It would be rather easy for them to show people that when they ask for loans.  But they don't, because it's easy money.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:09:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Because they can add (6+ / 0-)

            up 5-digit dollar amounts that does not mean they actually understand what it will be like to live with that bill due every month.

            Unless you can wave a magic wand and give all 18-22-year-olds an ability to plan their futures flawlessly and with great maturity, I really don't know what you're getting at here.

            •  Come on, this is silly. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lasgalen Lothir

              You're telling me a college student can compute the numbers but cannot understand what a loan amount really means as a monthly payment?

              In my first semester of college, all the borrowers had to attend a meeting where they took a typical loan amount and a typical salary; they used the salary to compute a monthly take-home pay; they used the loan to compute a monthly payment; and they simply showed that monthly payment as a slice of the monthly pie along with rent/mortgage, food, car payment, utilities, etc.

              This explained in very clear terms what making that monthly  payment really meant, and we poor, ignorant college students were perfectly able to understand it.  

              Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

              by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:05:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's what I'm telling you, yes. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                First, the first semester of college is a little too late to be having this discussion. :)

                More to the point, though, the "everyone can go to college" message is heard loud and clear. That's the expectation for many students and their families. You will have a job that can pay whatever the cost is. That's the next part of that message.

                You, Caj, may well have understood the impact that your student loans would have on your life. Having had that understanding it may well be hard for you to see that many people -- including students -- do not have a clear understanding of the impact debt will have on their lives.

                Remember the housing boom? How many middle-class people bought houses that, in saner times, they would never have considered and now can't afford? And these are, presumably, fully matured adults.

                Does the typical 18-year-old have the ability to really understand the consequences of debt, even what you consider reasonable debt? I remember being 18. I think it is perfectly possible to be bright enough to get into a good school and still have no grasp on how daily expenses actually work.

                Some do, of course. But, obviously, from what we see going on, others don't. What they do understand is that they are expected to go to college, come hell or high water.

                •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lasgalen Lothir
                  First, the first semester of college is a little too late to be having this discussion. :)
                  Maybe it's too late for the lesson to sink in, but you haven't yet taken out the bulk of your loans in the first semester of college.
                  Remember the housing boom? How many middle-class people bought houses that, in saner times, they would never have considered and now can't afford? And these are, presumably, fully matured adults.
                  This is yet another reason why I think it's wrong to treat 18-year-olds as incapable of understanding.  Here, they are engaging in the same risky behavior that we saw in older people during the housing bubble.  It wasn't an age thing:  this isn't because they are too young to understand, but because a lot of people will engage in risky behavior without education and warning.

                  Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                  by Caj on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 07:14:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Good point. (0+ / 0-)

                    But I think younger adults are a more vulnerable target for those pushing these loans.

                    That doesn't negate the fact that too many of us learn by trial and error rather than having clear information and actually understanding what debt means.

                    OTOH, lots of people get married without much more info than a twinkle in their eye. We do not always make wise or informed decisions.

          •  Good point, but it's predicting salaries (4+ / 0-)

            that is difficult. I can come up with lots of examples just in my circle of friends, people with degrees who prepared for careers that are no longer able to pay the salary they expected. (I'm in early middle age.) You may think you are borrowing to join a career that pays $60,000-80,000 a year for an experienced employee and find out that by the time you are experienced, those jobs are gone and what's left for you if you are lucky is $19/hour as a temp with no health coverage or paid time off.

            Oh, and what do the financial experts recommend then? (curse you, "Marketplace Money") Why, you dumb worker, you studied the wrong field. You should borrow more money and get some education. Oh, by the way, if you don't want to be a nurse or other health professional (ugh- I can't imagine a job I'm less suited for) that's also your own fault. Bad widget!

            •  While it's true that you can't predict your salary (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lasgalen Lothir

              ...the exercise will still tell you that it's bad to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for an undergraduate degree.  

              If you estimate a starting salary of 60K instead of 40K, the math will still tell you that you can't fit a 100K loan into a monthly budget for that salary, and will vividly illustrate the difference between an 80K loan and a 40K loan---and thus the need to avoid behavior like we read about in the linked article.

              Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

              by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:37:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  We're not talking about (4+ / 0-)

            one loan, one time.  We're talking about multiple loans, from multiple sources, mixed in with grants and scholarships, taken out new every six months over several years.  This is NOT easy to keep track of, especially for someone who is just starting out in the world.

            This is nothing at all like a mortgage or a car.  Nothing.

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:40:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why not? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lasgalen Lothir

              I had six separate student loans.  If I wanted to know how long it would take to pay it all back, I just added up the principal amounts into one big number and plugged it into a loan calculator.

              The loans had different interest rates, so I just used the highest interest rate to get a worst case amount.  This was easy to do, and I paid off the loans without any complications.  The fact that they were multiple loans didn't make it any harder to pay back.

              Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

              by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:48:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well good for you (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I'm glad that you were able to find a job that paid well enough, and was steady enough, to make the payments.  And kudos to you for being so financially astute at such a young age.

                Obviously there are many more students out there who are more like me than you, or your diary wouldn't have needed to be written.

                "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:56:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think you missed my point. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lasgalen Lothir

                  I was not financially astute.  You don't need to be financially astute to add six numbers together to see your total debt.

                  Likewise, if you go to the store and put six things in your cart, it's not an intractable six-dimensional problem to find out how much you'll have to pay.  They are six numbers and you add them together.

                  Obviously there are many more students out there who are more like me than you, or your diary wouldn't have needed to be written.
                  See, I disagree here.  I think the kids in this article are not incapable of working out their monthly payments, but instead engage in risky behavior for other psychological reasons.

                  Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                  by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:22:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I wholeheartedly disagree (0+ / 0-)

                    If you were right, the problem wouldn't be this huge. I think it's very cynical of you to think that there are so many reckless young people out there. I wasn't reckless; I wanted an education that was reasonably priced and I got thoroughly screwed by confusing and deceptive loan practices. I describe my situation below if you're interested.

                    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                    by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:29:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  And by the way (0+ / 0-)

                    My $25,000 car is almost paid off after 8 years. So how is it that my $25k in student loans is now more than $90,000?

                    I'll tell you why - because they were a bunch of crooks. The system is wrong.

                    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                    by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:07:23 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Compound interest and inadequate payback? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Lasgalen Lothir
                      So how is it that my $25k in student loans is now more than $90,000?
                      Elsewhere in the thread, you say that you borrowed this money about 20 years ago, and that over the last two decades you paid about half the principal in payments.

                      Half the principal is about 50 dollars a month, on average, for 20 years.   That is almost certainly low enough that your loan debt will grow rather than shrink over time.  

                      For example, if you borrowed $25,000 at 6% interest and paid back $125/mo, your debt would stay $25,000 forever:  $125/mo is low enough that it exactly cancels out the accrued interest and never pays down the loan.  If you only pay $50/mo on this loan, then every month your loan increases by 0.3%, growing to over $50,000 in 20 years.

                      By similar calculations, I get $25K increasing over 20 years to $62.7K, $76.6K or $93.7K for interest rates of 7, 8 or 9 percent, if you pay back only $50 per month.  

                      The actual amount will of course depend on exactly when and how you paid back that money.

                      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                      by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:04:31 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  And so the choice is what? (4+ / 0-)

            You finish your junior year, and suddenly you find out that next year tuition is going up by another 12 percent... after it went up 10 percent for your junior year and 14 percent for your sophomore year. The rent is going up. You're three years in, you're already uncomfortable with the debt you have. Perhaps one of your scholarships won't be renewed. Maybe your boss cut your hours back too.

            Are you going to drop out because your loan balance is already high, or are you going to sign up for the last year of loans so you can get your degree?

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:23:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But you can always *know* what you borrowed. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassandra Waites

              This article is not about students who were forced to take uncomfortable loans.  It's about students who don't even know how much they have borrowed, did not take note of the amount when signing the paper, and only ever find out what they owe when they leave school.

              Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

              by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:01:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, for the poor (5+ / 0-)

        Anything over about $2,000 becomes incomprehensible.

        Many have never seen a $100 bill, much less handled thousands.

        They don't get car loans or home loans, so they tend to not be knowledgeable about loans and how they work.

        Please sign the White House petition to Flush Rush from AFN (Armed Forces Network).

        by splashy on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:16:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I definitely don't buy this. (0+ / 0-)

          If you are going to college, then you can comprehend numbers larger than 2,000.  

          Besides, the monthly payment of a student loan is going to be hundreds of dollars (with hope,) which should be comprehensible to anyone who has managed a budget.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:56:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Being able to do the math and being able (7+ / 0-)

            to understand exactly what it means for the future when you take out a loan are two very different things.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 03:09:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  However different they are... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lasgalen Lothir

              ...they are both things that a college student is supposed to be able to do.

              Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

              by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:09:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I disagree very much (3+ / 0-)

                Until you actually go out and have to pay your own way you don't really have an idea of what it's going to be like and what different salaries will get you in terms of housing and the like.  I had some schooling on what I'd have to pay for, but I had no clue what I'd actually make when I got out of college. Theoretically I should have never gone based on what I make now.  Not that I regret it at all, but monetarily I'm making less than before I went to school.

                There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:04:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't see why not. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lasgalen Lothir
                  Until you actually go out and have to pay your own way you don't really have an idea of what it's going to be like and what different salaries will get you in terms of housing and the like.
                  It's quite easy to work out what a salary will get you in terms of housing and the like.  You plug the salary into a take-home pay calculator, take the monthly amount and make a budget out of it.

                  As I wrote above, our university required all borrowers to attend a meeting where an example budget was shown to us, with realistic numbers for rent, car payment, utilities etc.  This wasn't beyond our comprehension at all.

                  Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                  by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:26:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I had done that in school (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mahakali overdrive, burlydee

                    but the two problems are first that there are all sorts of incidentals that just never factored into it and what seemed like a lot of money before school is not so much once you graduate, in terms of what you make.   Second is the fact that you really don't know what you're going to be making when you get out of school, nor what you'll be making in the area you live in.  I'm making half what the starting median pay for a fresh graduate in my degree is suppose to make.  How was I suppose to plan for that?

                    I do think we could do a better job of educating people on this stuff.  Or maybe just education them at all.  I'm just saying that just showing people how to calculate these things isn't the only answer.  There's a lot more to it.

                    There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                    by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:40:49 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It's true that you can't predict your salary (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Lasgalen Lothir

                      But the exercise of doing so with a median salary---or better yet, with a few salaries, including a barista salary---goes a long way toward illustrating what a $20,000 loan means.

                      But this is irrelevant to the original point:  a college student is fully capable of understanding what a $40,000 loan means, in terms of the duration and cost of paying it back and how that affects a monthly budget at a typical salary.  All of that can be computed using high-school mathematics, and then you can think about the numbers using high-school critical thinking skills, which you are assumed to have when you start college.

                      The ignorance hypothesis, that college students cannot be expected to borrow safely because they cannot be expected to understand a loan, does not hold water.  Understanding a loan, and therefore not borrowing $200,000 by accident, is well within the intellectual capabilities of anyone qualified for admission to college.

                      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                      by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:11:13 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Choices: (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Marie, Kamakhya, Nance, Persiflage

      1) Start in a community college and get tuition deeply discounted for the first two years.

      2) Go to a state university instead of the locally "prestigious" private college (whose name is completely unknown outside the region).  State universities' tuition is typically half that of their private counterparts.

      3) Hold a part-time job during college.

      4) Live at home with parents or find an apartment with a bunch of roommates to reduce living expenses.  Rent (or "room and board") probably represents the single largest cost of going to college.

      5) Go into the armed forces prior to college.  The GI Bill pays for quite a bit.  (You dismiss that option, but I have plenty of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in my community college classes right now, and they're great guys and gals.)

      6) Save money prior to college.  That may mean working in high school and over the summers.

      •  I wonder if this will become a trend. (3+ / 0-)
        Save money prior to college.  That may mean working in high school and over the summers.
        I started bagging groceries at 16, so that I would have some money for college when I graduated high school.  

        This only saved me maybe 1 year's worth of room and board, but then, that still helped a huge amount, and made it possible to cover the rest of my living expenses by working summers and part-time during the year.

        However, that leaves the exploding cost of tuition and fees, which must then be handled by grants and loans.  Nowadays this can easily result in a debt of 30-40K, depending on your state, and that's if you work the whole time!

        This leads me to wonder:  will we now see a trend of kids who take a couple years off between high school and college to work up the money?  Two years of full-time crap jobs working from home can net you two to four years of tuition, allowing you to borrow far less.  It would also have the advantage of placing you above drinking age for most of your college degree.

        The disadvantage, however, is that the more school we take, the more we postpone our adult lives.  Going for a graduate degree can keep you in school until your thirties, and two more years is not going to help that.

        Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

        by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:44:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tuition & fees really depend. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Caj, ladybug53

          On education fees alone, UCal is about $3,250 per quarter (doesn't matter how many units a person takes).  That's almost $10k per year, not including room & board and other fees (like registration fees, lab fees, student program fees, and the like), nor does it include books.  It's up quite a bit from when I was a grad student.

          However, that's UCal.  Cal State's tuition is cheaper, and for the undergraduate degree, unless you're going to Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Duke, or the like, there's really not nearly enough of a difference to justify the difference in cost.

          Part of the problem is the high-school college-bound culture itself.  Not only do I remember it from my own youth (oh-so-long ago), but you see the same things played out in our media, on shows like "Glee".

          Going to the state school is "slumming", particularly if it's in one's own hometown.  As a 17- and 18-year-old, I was pressured by my peers to go to one of the Ivy Leagues--I had the GPA and test scores for it.  My best friend went to MIT, and my scores and GPA were always right behind hers (always #2 to her #1, but that's okay, because she is a bona fide genius, and the robot she wrote the software for ran around Mars for over a decade).  I remember people saying it was "a shame" that I decided to take the full-ride scholarship my state university offered.

          The entire plot arc this season on "Glee" has been more or less the same.  Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel want to go to the "New York Academy for the Dramatic Arts".  The entire season has been about whether or not they get in--no one has uttered a word about how much it will cost, or if they (or their respective parents) can afford it.  On the other hand, school counselor Emma Pillsbury tells Finn Hudson that it's "okay" to go to the state university.  And before anyone says that's just Hollywood, it's not.  It's real life, too.  That's just the way kids are.

          And that's what needs to change.  We should be telling our kids that it's not merely "okay" to go to a state school (or community college), but that it may be the wisest choice they can make for themselves because they'll still come out with an education (and the degree attached to it) that's meaningful, without being shackled to a life's worth of debt.

          •  The irony is that those elite schools (0+ / 0-)

            have more grant funds available and probably cost less than UC for many students. You do have to shop and figure out the cost after all the waivers and grants are applied.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:28:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I very much doubt that. (0+ / 0-)

              Since all UC-eligible students are also eligible for need-based CalGrants and other forms of state assistance, I find that very doubtful.  And unless things changed in the two decades since I was looking at college costs, the grant money offered by those elite institutions was laughable: $500 here, $1,000 there.  Maybe things have changed, but I rather suspect not.

              And I know, with certainty, most of those elite institutions cost more than the UC.

    •  Lots of choices.. (0+ / 0-)

      Students that can't afford 4 year schools go anyway and just put it on loans.  

      Choice?  Get your Gen Ed courses out of the way at a community college.  English 101 and Math 101 and Chem 101 is the same no matter where you go.

      Then transfer to a 4 year college to finish.  You still end up with that degree from Northwestern or Purdue or Notre Dame or whatever.  Even cheaper if you finish at a state school.

      Lots of choices..  Commute to a 4 yr University.  Get a degree from Univ of Illinois right in the near-downtown Chicago campus.  I'm sure there's arrangements like that all over the country.

      Maybe take less than a full load and take 5 years.  Work while studying.

      It's bullshit that there's no choices.

      •  Kids in California are having to cobble together (0+ / 0-)

        schedules at multiple community colleges to keep their dance card full, because they can't get the classes. Sometimes - sad but true - they show up for English 101 at the wrong school by mistake. It is taking 3 years to do a two year degree.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:30:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Predatory! (22+ / 0-)

    Essentially college now exists as a means to thrust unfathomable debt onto naive teenagers either through the student loans or the 1 zillion credit card offers they get their first day of the freshman year.  Or both.  This seems deliberate and heartlessly callous.

    I feel fortunate that when I was in university I went on money from an inheritance from my granny.  Of course, 20 years ago college was relatively affordable, but I know a lot of people in my age group STILL trying to pay off student loans

    This issue seems like it's one that'll gain a lot of traction if the 99% movement regains momentum over the summer.

    •  I went on an "inheritance" from Uncle Sam 8-( (8+ / 0-)

      that is, my father, who died when I was 12, was a WWII vet. I went to college a LONG time ago on a combination of vet's survivors and SS survivors benefits. I'd really rather have had my dad, I think.

      Anyway, my sibs and I were always VERY aware of the small loans we had to take out to fill out the other grants. Of course, back in the "civilized 70's" there were jobs available during and immediately after college, AND there was a 12-mo grace period during which you could pay back as much of the principal as you wanted to or could manage, INTEREST-FREE.

      20 or so years later, my DH went back to college, with loans, which didn't seem unreasonable at the time; he also had that 12-mo. buffer.

      In both cases, 1970's AND 1990's, we WERE employed and were able to pay off all loans completely within the 12-mo "grace period". Of course, we've always been very good money-managers (HE has!), he was a Dean's List accounting major.

      I think handing over the student loan business to for-profit banks is inexcusable Reaganism; as are the sky-rocketing increases in tuition. Germany and other Eurozone countries have it right -- how do you expect to run a healthy economy with an uneducated workforce! Subsidizing any level of education for the general public is an INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT, fer pete-sake! but then the Repubs don't understand about infrastructure maintenance anyway, do they?

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:13:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So give others the chance you had. (0+ / 0-)
        AND there was a 12-mo grace period during which you could pay back as much of the principal as you wanted to or could manage, INTEREST-FREE.
        Nothing whatsoever is stopping you from starting a student loan company and writing this clause into your loan contracts.  I'd back you for a few thousand dollars.

        The the extent that markets work, they work because people offer good products at a reasonable price.

        Time and time again I see leftists just quit the field and bitch about the injustice.  Put your money where your mouth is.

        -7.75 -4.67

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

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:56:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Credit card offers. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Those are and have been banned on college campuses for nearly a decade now.

      Update your meme.

  •  When colleges began to run as a business (25+ / 0-)

    Instead of an actual educational institution.

    Now for most schools, its about how many bodies can we pack into the buildings and maximize our federal dollar grab.

    Who cares if they graduate or not, they have the cash in hand and that debt is federally backed.

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:23:15 AM PDT

  •  It's not a bubble in the traditional sense (11+ / 0-)

    Because for all federally subsidized loans (which is most of them), you are NOT allowed to default, EVER.  Not that people don't try, but the debt is never actually 'written off', and thus never evaporates from the economy, in a financial sense.  So it cannot be a bubble in the same way that the mortgage market, or even credit card debt, is a bubble.

    Is this a good idea?  I'm sure it is not.  More than any other kind of loan that exists, it ensures that a certain percentage of graduating (or dropout) students will ALWAYS be in debt, no matter what.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:30:45 AM PDT

    •  Is that a requirement for a bubble? (5+ / 0-)

      I think that if you con a bunch of people into overspending on something whose value is inflated and then crashes, it's a bubble regardless of who is left holding the bag.  

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:58:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It would seem like the bubble can't 'pop' (2+ / 0-)

        That's why I wonder if we shouldn't be talking about and approaching the student loan crisis in different terms.  A student loan doesn't have an inherent "value" compared to a car or a house because you can't sell it back, and it can't depreciate (what would there be to depreciate?)  And again, since the loans can't be defaulted on, they'll never come off the books unless they are paid off, so I don't see how there can be a "crash" the way we have seen other debt crashes.  

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:18:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure it pops (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          demongo, Marie
          A student loan doesn't have an inherent "value" compared to a car or a house because you can't sell it back, and it can't depreciate (what would there be to depreciate?)
          The price.  Even if you can't give a college degree an inherent "value," it does have a price, and that price can dramatically rise to irrational levels.

          In the case of the housing bubble, houses didn't have inherent values that rose and fell; they had prices that rose far above their true inherent value, and then crashed back down.  If anything, inherent house values dropped monotonically due to a glut of construction as everyone scrambled to capitalize off the artificially high prices.

          And again, since the loans can't be defaulted on, they'll never come off the books unless they are paid off
          But nothing ever really vanishes from the books.  Writing off a loan simply means that someone else takes a loss, possibly the taxpayer.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:34:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No. Much value never appears on the books. (0+ / 0-)

            And money is created and destroyed all the time by the financial system.

            Ecological & environmental systems have the greatest real value to humanity of all, but a small fraction of their worth appears on the books.

            Massive amounts of money were destroyed when the value of housing dropped. When the stock market dropped, wealth dropped with it. Money is a construct, not a tangible object. It can vanish and it can be created. The value of things is negotiable.

            look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

            by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:46:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It's an expense (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, ladybug53, Cassandra Waites

          in the sense it reduces the student/adult/ worker's ability to buy homes, new cars, and other items that drive the economy and put value in terms of net worth. They can't save for retirement.

          If people insist on putting an intangible value on a college education then it needs to be depreciated just like any other intangible as the older it gets the less it's worth.

          I'm seeing ads now for High School Graduates with Commensurate Experience for IT Positions that pay 80-100G a year. Maybe Corps. are finally starting to figure out relative value when they look at the real job creators who never graduated from college.

          OT  The myth of the line "I never got a job from a poor man" is total horseshit when one considers where the majority of job creation has historically taken place. Not only have people gotten jobs from Poor people, they have gotten them when they were poor and desperate. Most small businesses were started with Helocs, Credit Card loans, Angel investors, savings etc and with a very small amount of start-up money. Anyone who has worked for a start-up got a job from a poor person as a rule, not as an exception.

  •  Obfuscation (14+ / 0-)

    It pays the lenders to have the amounts and terms and consequences as opaque as possible.  Those students you reference who have borrowed carefully and consciously are more likely to have had parents or other adults in their lives advising them and interpreting for them.   As for classes on loan awareness, such things didn't exist back in the dark ages of my college days (class of '73) so far as a I know; but college is not the time to be having such classes - it's too late then.  Hopefully the CPFB will make some improvements.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:36:26 AM PDT

  •  Most of my college was paid by pell grants (17+ / 0-)

    and scholarships. Some however was loans, a lot less than a lot of students however. Part of the confusion at my school was the way they added up. If it was one loan for the four years it would be easier, but we were called in to sign for new loans every year. Then you had the amount covered by pell grants, the amount covered by scholarships, then the loans for the rest, then tuition would go up, or books would cost twice as much as you expected, and they'd go up again. So each time you saw the loan paperwork it was only a fraction of what you actually were taking out and it was done far enough apart that you couldn't always remember what the last fraction was for (especially if you have a math disability like me LOL). So yes, at the end you're hit with a total bill that surprises you, because you're finally seeing those numbers come together. At the beginning you're given a number, but it's not, in my experience the same number you're given at the end.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:53:09 AM PDT

    •  asdf (6+ / 0-)
      If it was one loan for the four years it would be easier, but we were called in to sign for new loans every year.
      I think we'd be worse off if you took one big to start, because then it's too late for students to find out that they borrowed too much.

      Better to have some kind of mandatory statement with each loan application, showing your total loans so far, and as much information as possible about what that number is going to mean for you.

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:10:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I definitely agree (4+ / 0-)

        I would say that it might be good to have something that shows not just your current loan amount but also a predicted final amount.  Like "If you keep borrowing at this rate you will owe x amount of dollar when you graduate and you will be paying that off at x dollars per month for such and such amount of time."  That would be a good way for students to understand the actual amount of debt they are going to accrue.

        On the other hand. If they got a lump sum at the beginning and the interest didn't start accruing until they had to start paying it off then they could simply start out paying it off by giving back whatever was left over.  The problem I see there is that having that much money available would make it very likely that the students would spend more of it, which makes it a bad idea in my mind.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:24:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Youth is wasted on the young." (2+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    PubliusPublicola, Abelia
    Hidden by:

    They think they're talented, successful, and in demand before day one of their schooling. They spend four years (or more) being told, and telling each other, how much money they'll make when they graduate:

    "I'll start out at $120k per year as a nurse/teacher/accountant/fill in the blank, and with loans of $90k, I'll have it paid off in less than a year!"

    "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

    by CFAmick on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:16:28 AM PDT

  •  My girlfriend was not given insight into loans (13+ / 0-)

    My GF is pretty sharp.   I wasn't there in the loan office so I can only go on what she tells me.   She was young, she didn't exactly understand it and now she regrets having gone to college at all because she is so in debt.

    I am older and I couldn't believe how the rates have gone through the roof.    My car loan is half the rate of her student loans.   She isn't going to be able to pay it off for god knows how long and she is really lucky to have a $20 hr job.

    It reminds me  SO much of how the housing loan market was.

    It's not sustainable.

    FYI - the bluedog thing is about my dog ... I'm a liberal left winger and proud of it.

    by bluedogsd on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:04:31 AM PDT

    •  "It's not sustainable" is an understatement- (6+ / 0-)

      it's a major disaster waiting to happen.

      Only the Federal government will be able to deal with the collapse.

      The temptation for the Feds to bail out the banks and colleges without really helping the students, past present and future, will be enormous.

      Time to get our thinking caps on, all you college students, and come up with an activism plan for:
      setting education standards so colleges get no loans without good graduation AND hire-rates;
      setting loan standards so that rates are capped;
      having set-percentage-of-takehome & set-term payback plans for loans so that you cannot be on the hook forever;
      whatever else works.

      •  Step one: No subsidized loans (8+ / 0-)

        for for-profit institutions.  Shit, no protected loans.  Let places like ITT go out of business if they can't get students under those conditions.  These schools are a huge part of the reason student loans have skyrocketed to the heights they're at now.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:06:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  this probably isn't practical (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Caj, Cassandra Waites, AoT, nils o

          but I'd love to see the schools themselves basically be the loan originators so that if students default, they actually have some skin in the game.  I wasted a ridiculous amount of money on a law school education, but my alma mater doesn't give a flying frack if I'm struggling to pay back my law school loans.  They took the money and ran long ago.  

          •  My loans were all originated by my university (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I think it is an excellent idea.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:34:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  wow, really? (0+ / 0-)

              I didn't know anywhere did that, lol.  How has it worked out for you so far?  Student loan debt is incredibly burdensome no matter what, so it may not have helped much, but at least there's some relationship between your educational and employment outcome and what the school gets in student loan repayment.  Theoretically at least, I would think it would improve overall program quality and the school's desire to help you find the best job possible.  I personally feel like my law school program was largely a scam, so I'd love to see schools like mine finally make that connection.  

  •  Lots of factors (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, ladybug53

    Lots of factors account for this, as you know. I do believe part of it is plain "head in the sand" but much of it is just being on that cusp between being a teen and becoming an adult. I believe that much of it is simply going from being an over protected/regulated high schooler to suddenly being asked to think and do as an adult. The transition is rough.

    This is also a generation that has been indoctrinated that more schooling is good (and it generally is), that you need to consume more than you need (ads are wonderful and it starts in pre-K with some items being de rigueur) and  plus this age group think they are invincible and smarter than everyone else (remember Mark Twain's quote about, suddenly, at 21 finding out how smart his parents had become?).

    Unfortunately, the bankes and others have figured out that these students are sitting ducks and have jacked up the price of education and make the loans inviting (until you are suckered in). Educating the parents might help some but the students are getting their first heady wiff of independence and don't pay much attention to parents.

    It is a huge problem with no easy solutions and frustrating as hell 'cause we sure do wish they would learn from other's mistakes.  

    But you already know all this ... since you work with this group already.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:28:46 AM PDT

  •  Is there anything like the new credit card info? (5+ / 0-)

    They were made to show how much you'd actually pay if you only pay the minimum/mo.

    Do students ever see the figure they pay including interest and are they made aware of how paying extra, like with a mortgage, you can cut that amount?

    IIRC the Truth in Lending Act makes mortgage lenders show the final amount of interest over the course of a loan.  Is this true for student loans?

    Quick...somebody get Gingrich a strand of pearls to clutch.

    by LeighAnn on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:31:07 AM PDT

  •  the youth are fucked no matter which way they go (13+ / 0-)

    even public schools are getting hella expensive, and you can't make it without a degree, so if you don;t have family wealth to draw upon, you're stuck between foundering in the underpaid service class or getting into absurd debt and hoping that your degree gets you into a job that can help you pay off your loans.

    any young person who isn't rich is fucked. it's a trap, and it can't be gamed.

    •  They should lower the rates (9+ / 0-)

      or make the terms more comprehensible up front. They could extend the terms as well. But mainly, they should really, really require mandatory seminars about these loans. So many kids are absolutely getting in over their heads. And they're just kids so often... many are seventeen years old and can't even legally drive yet without an "adult" in the car.

      You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

      by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:49:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are absolutely correct. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nulwee, AoT
    •  While I sort of agree... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Caj, ladybug53, annetteboardman

      I also do not completely.  I know you are a UC Davis student.  My daughter will be entering UC Berkeley in the fall and was accepted to UC Davis.  So while Davis was slightly better for her intended career (veterinary), Berkeley gave her a fantastic scholarship, so the choice was obvious.  We will still have to pay 10K/year, but that is doable.

      I am a single mom who makes decent pay, but thanks to CalGrants, she was given enough to cover the tuition at Davis (over 12K).  Then they said we could pay 13K ourselves and the rest (about 5-6K) would be in loans.  Thus, getting through a 4 yr degree would only mean about 20K in loans before vet school and that doesn't even take into account work study programs or summer jobs.  Her friend is very poor (on paper) and was given essentially a full ride to UC Davis.  You do not need to be rich to get a good education.  The Middle Class has it the worst, though.  Thankfully, here in CA, they just changed CalGrants to help those families who make between 70-120K.  It is at least a little relief.

      Another alternative is to go to a community college for 2 years and transfer.  You still get a degree from UC Davis, but at half the cost.

      I do think that school loans are way too easy to get and that many kids have no clue what they are signing.

      •  I was making virtually nothing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, Cassandra Waites

        before I went into school and I still had to pay for most of it.  I ended up with 20k in Loans for 2 years of SFSU.  I had to take those loans.  You shouldn't assume that everyone is in the same situation or has access to the same resources you do.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:26:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fair enough (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dotdash2u, AoT, Cassandra Waites

          I don't assume, I am only putting out what I know and what I have seen as a parent whose kid is graduating high school this year.  I will admit that my kid earned a killer scholarship at Cal, but only because she has been working for this since she was in elementary school.  She will be graduating from high school (Alameda Science and Technology Institute, a public high school in Alameda, CA) and from Laney College, a community college, with 3 AA degrees.  She has over 600 hours of community service and has worked in her field at a Veterinary Hospital for two years.  She saved several thousand dollars for College.  

          I know she is rocking the system, but not everyone is.  College is a huge topic with my friends and I.  We all have kids at one stage or another.  None have gotten huge loans.  But  many have incurred some loans...more than they would like.  There is a real issue with loans and how they are granted.  I know in my own paperwork, some are type A and some type B, but they don't really tell what the difference is just part of the financial aid package.  I might have inquired further, but I am sure that most kids just say, "OK" and move on.

          SFSU is a great school and one of my daughter's classmates is considering it vs. Davis.  Her parents want her to choose SFSU and stay at home because they did not get the financial aid they wanted at Davis or anywhere else.  She wants to go to a better University and experience dorm life.  I can so understand that.   Nevertheless, she wants to get into Nursing and SFSU would be great for that and much more inexpensive.  So, in her case, it might make sense to go to SFSU.

          I don't have a lot of resources.  I have my income that I make.  I work in downtown Oakland at a very small law firm.  I am not a lawyer.  I am everything else.  I have no real savings or assets.  One of the reasons I quit smoking cigarettes 9 months ago was to help me save money to pay for my kid's college.

          If a student does not have access to parental resources, then that student should have access to the scholarships and financial aid available to others.  What I see all too often is parents who refuse to help and think it build character to "work through college" even though, as everyone has pointed out here, that is impossible.  

          I think parents need to be educated too.

          •  I didn't mean to attack you there (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            This whole diary has gotten my hackles up.

            I went to DVC out in Pleasant Hill until I transfered.  Which was a great starting place for school.  That's another part of all of this, the cuts to community colleges that are happening that will just make it harder for lower income students to go to school.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 08:00:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Well stated and in line with my own experience (7+ / 0-)

    and observations as well. It's actually pretty unsettling.

    The financial aid offices are most certainly partially responsible here because when a student fills out a FAFSA, they explain their financial need and program that they are in. They do not ask for a certain amount however. They are then given whatever is "needed" to cover their tuition. Thus they are quite often literally clueless about how much they've borrowed. Particularly if they are simply renewing their loan year to year.

    Moreover, because it's all electronic, they never actually have to speak with a human being about what they are doing.

    It's really shameful that there isn't mandatory advising about these fees at Universities. They do require plenty of other mandatory advising. I suppose many students would simply decide not to go to college?

    You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

    by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:38:31 AM PDT

  •  This gave me a sickening sense of deja vu... (14+ / 0-)

    I was lucky as an undergrad; my parents were able to help me, I went to a state school, and I had a small scholarship to get through financially.

    Grad school for me was another story.

    I made an abortive entree into law school for a year (private tuition, financed by loans), bailed and went to (private) b-school (also financed 100% by loans).

    I still remember the day I sent in the loan paperwork that would ultimately obligate me to pay back ~$50k in student loans; a friend took me to a bar since I needed a drink.

    I also remember, a couple years later, getting my first letters in the mail from the various loan corporations holding my debt, re: my repayment schedule.  It was something I hadn't thought about in any detail, and very sobering.

    I pulled all my loan paperwork, dollar amounts, interest schedules, etc., and put it all in a big spreadsheet and worked out various payment scenarios.

    By making appropriate sacrifices in lifestyle etc., I could get everything paid off in ~ 4 years.

    It wasn't painless, but I was able to do it by sticking to my schedule, making extra payments when I could and not suffering from major medical disasters or other problems.

    I sympathize with students today, and am already trying to figure out how to help my own kids when the time comes.

    "When and if fascism comes to will not even be called 'fascism'; it will be called, of course, 'Americanism'" --Professor Halford E. Luccock of Yale Divinity School; New York Times article from September 12, 1938, page 15

    by demongo on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:42:34 AM PDT

  •  FAFSFA, and my son's loan... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, chimene, fille americaine, ladybug53

    we are unsubsidized b/c I make too much for a subsidized loan.  I know how much he's getting (as does he), and what our percentage rate is (which is going up as of September), but I have NEVER received a bill or instructions that would allow us to start paying some of the loan off.  And I'm in the middle of doing my new FAFSFA (which needs to be done each year).

    I agree that there is a total lack of transparency. Beyond the application, we've received NOTHING. All I know is that he qualified for an unsubsidized loan because of how much I make, and so far he's received about $5500.  I couldn't send a payment if I wanted to .... no idea who it's supposed to go to.  We've received nothing beyond the acceptance itself.

  •  This is what is recommended at DKos? (16+ / 0-)

    Its very simple to me.  We groom our best and brightest middle class students to seek the best education possible.   And it makes financial sense.  The doors that are opened for a person who goes to Harvard or Cal Tech or Darthmouth or Stanford are enormous.  Even going too a public university offers far more prosperity than a high school diploma.  

    For those middle class students to attend these universities however, they have to pay enormous tuition rates.  Even some public universities have tripled their rates.  They often have to travel far from home to attend a university that will suit their needs.  They have to buy books, room and board.  Often families can't afford to support 2 households, the main household and the kid living in Berkely, Tempe or wherever.  And when they get to the school, the social pressures start to take over that very few 18 year olds are immune too.  Do you want to go on dates?  Do you want to go to the football game?  Do you want to have the college experience?

    So how is a family of 5 with an oldest son/daughter going to college who only makes $60 to $80 k a year going to afford to pay for a $13k a year college, 10k a year in room and board and however much a frivolous 18 to 22 year old is able to frit away while they learn responsiblity?  How much do you think that costs?

    To ask 18 year olds to make a decision about borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars when most aren't qualified to even read a loan application and are deluded into believing they will earn that money back into graduation is asking too much.  Many of their parents, even those that went to college, are not unaware of the loan game and how colleges just gauge you on every part of the experience.  They believe, like so many believe, that little Jamie will make the money up on the other side.  And that is what all these colleges are selling.  Why else do law schools advertise how many people are working in a year after graduation and how many are working at top firms?  B/c they are telling you - invest in yourself, you will make the money back!  Are you the one to tell a family not to invest in little Jamie's future?  "I'm sorry you think you were meant for great things, but most likely you'll end up a mid level employee for some corporation who wishes they never took out a loan in the first place.  Its best you learn that when you're 16." I haven't seen any presidents  or CEO's graduating from community college, have you?

    I know students who graduated at the top of their class from well respected liberal art colleges and law schools who are working as waitresses and detention officers b/c of the economy.  The solution isn't to better educate the students.  They are never going to have the education to overcome the loan officers and predatory lenders.  And you are asking them to make a Faustian bargain anyway - pay your own way through college, possibly forego a college that will get you a leg up on the competition and save money OR take your chances of achieving economic and social freedom by going to a college that has a chance to get you in the upper echelon of society.  

    No the solution is to take some of that money we spend bombing little brown muslims and start spending it to educate little white, black, brown, yellow and red kids here.  That is the only solution.   Not this dumbed down society conservatives and apparently some liberals are pining for.  

    •  Financial Education starts with the parents (6+ / 0-)

      As I have seen here more times than I can count over the last 4 years are people who simply don't have a clue what the banking crisis was all about. If a debate broke out and I can guarantee that at least a few people would insist it was on people buying a home they couldn't afford or the best is the "Extra"Bathroom". If parents are educated and kids are not required to take basic finance, it won't help.

      Lets go back to the days of old when I was in school in the 70s. Loans were direct from the Govt at 3% simple interest. Repayment started 9 Months after graduation.

      Back in the day, a student educated in finance could have easily left themselves with some bridge money from college to a job by arbitraging the student rate of 3% simple interest to the 10% rate earned on treasuries. The cool part about that is that they would start earning interest from day one on the treasuries while the simple interest wouldn't start until four years later.

      But , from what I understand now, Interest is front loaded, compounded and starts on day one at 6.8% ( it will rise to that despite Obama's efforts to stop it) . How this started can only be traced to one thing; corruption. The whores in congress got their marching orders from their pimps on K Street and the student loan program was effectively privatized but the student loans were still guaranteed by the govt. What a business to get into.

      Of course a Student could get as much as they wanted. Want to party like crazy? Sure, take an extra 5G a year.  

      An out of state school or a private school can now easily be a 6 figure debt with 20-40 year pay offs. Yet Debt incurred back in the 70s was paid off in ten years or earlier. In my case , five years. The monthly payments were tiny. $38/Month. Hell, back then, one could have rolled the ten year treasuries to the 20% 30 years that came in the early 80s and never pay a dime out of pocket.

      I learned finance at an age that was way too late. I guess going back to 3% would be impossible now with the fed loaning money at zero percent, so maybe a course for both parents and students targeted at loans so they know the difference between simple interest and compounded interest and how much the student/parents can really afford to pay over the next 30 years with a signature by student and parents, if the student isn't an independent that they know how much a entry level job pays in their feild of study and the likelihood that they will get one. Further, Universities should be tasked with tracking grades, classes and activities  and give a quantitative analysis every semester of the likelihood of getting a job and how much it pays.

      That way, if student change their mind , as many do, and many do for the wrong reason, then the parents and the student will quickly understand the financial impact on their lives.

      Sucks bad, but no one is going to that 6.8% nor will there be political will by any party to lower it and drive private lenders out. At least they should give the student an out through bankruptcy. Loaning money with huge spreads and no risk isn't privatization, it's out right thievery.  I can't imagine a young adult who gets stuck in a low paying job with a six figure debt and then gets hit with a medical expense because all they can afford is junk insurance or none.

      If these keeps up, there will never be a recovery in housing either. The people that are now graduating or have graduated a number of years ago, could never make the grade for a mortgage once their monthly student loan was factored in.

      •  The big issue is that tuition has risen (8+ / 0-)

        It used to be that you took out a few loans for not too much if you wanted to go to college, and you might be able to find work to supplement that, and those would pay for your expenses outside of tuition.  Tuition was cheap enough that you didn't have to worry about it.  That just isn't the case now.

        Also, we need to quit giving for-profit institutions protected loans.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:16:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I can personally attest (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive, AoT, burlydee

        to your housing recovery prediction.  I have 150k in law school  debt and my husband is currently in the middle of finishing an engineering degree, so as much as we would like to buy a house, it will be VERY difficult for us right now.  I hate to wait, though, because I'm afraid interest rates will go up in a couple of years.  I know many people who are in the same situation.  Plus, at least in my area, there are very few modest homes available to buy.  

  •  There is a tremendous level of financial ignorance (12+ / 0-)

    in this country and it's wide spread.

    I am not surprised that this is happening. I remember shopping for a loan for college, after seeing some sexy ads on television.

    Get that money now!

    It was a AR Loan. Not a fixed rate.

    All we were taught in high school with regards to money was how to keep a checking account, and pay bills.

    There was nothing about loans, especially not about mortgages or large loans for education.

    Why is that?

    And just take a look around you and see how that ignorance is benefiting a privileged few.

  •  The debt accumulates in manageable bites (7+ / 0-)

    and then tends to accelerate as tuition and expenses rise.

    The biggest thing I've seen is a 5th year, where suddenly the grants and tuition waivers go away. But you can't just stop - at that point, you need to finish the degree. Often the 5th year is because the student was working, took a term off, or because classes weren't offered when the student needed them. Regardless, I've seen student loan debt double from the end of year 4 to the end of year 5.

    In my day, that tended to mean a doubling from $10,000 to $20,000... bad enough. These days it tends to be from $50,000 to $100,000... heart stopping.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:26:09 AM PDT

    •  And these days, because they don't (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, Kamakhya, ladybug53, Cassandra Waites

      find enough classes even offered in their major to create a four-year schedule. They are both raising fees, reducing course offerings, and then screwing a lot of students over this way. It's hard at many, many universities and in many majors to find enough classes to satisfy a major. But those majors aren't given enough money by the Universities to provide those classes (or have classes cut by administration outright).

      You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

      by mahakali overdrive on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:27:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know how much I have taken out. (5+ / 0-)

    It's currently $24,000, and will be at least $30,000 when I graduate.

    I'm not sure that I'm much better off for knowing.  I could not get decent paying, stable jobs when I wasn't in school.  I am shackled to this waning existence.

    Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

    by Nulwee on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:32:01 AM PDT

    •  Btw, I got turned down for every scholarship (6+ / 0-)

      I applied for.

      Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

      by Nulwee on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:39:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was turned down for every scholarship (11+ / 0-)

        I applied for as an undergrad despite being black and having a high GPA and test scores (to kill that myth).   I did get a scholarship to go to grad school but my scholarship expressly forbid me from working AND was not enough to cover the full cost of my tuition, not to mention my room and board and the fact that I was an adult with adult responsibilities.   So despite the fact that I paid for my first year of law school myself, out of my savings, and the fact that I had a scholarship, I still ended up with an enormous amount of debt for those final 2 years (not to mention my undergrad debt).  I guess I should have just eaten Ramen noodles for every meal.  

        •  And give yourself high blood pressure and diabetes (0+ / 0-)

          It' ain't worth it!


          Veterans run into all sorts of obstacles when trying to use their GI Bills too. Mostly stemming from the VA itself.

          Because if we don't use the money or only use part of it, the VA gets to keep it.

          I would call that a powerful incentive to play fuck fuck games with veterans in college.

  •  Student Loans - beyond tuition (5+ / 0-)

    Thing is, you can take out a student loan for more than the cost of tuition & books - you can tack on living expenses. So some kids go for the good life, and borrow enough to live in a nice apartment, with plenty of money to eat out and visit pubs and go to rock concerts. All this on kind of a super-credit-card. No wonder they graduate smothered in debt!

    American culture is all about consumption and "keeping up with the Joneses". Living frugally and deferring gratification are sneered at and considered the hallmark of a loser. It's not surprising that young folks fall into this kind of debt trap.

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 11:32:17 AM PDT

    •  I agree with you - some are irresponsible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I got grants, loans and also paid part to get thru college.

      When I was looking at degrees I was looking at what jobs were around to try to match up.

      When I was looking at college I was looking at the lowest price for a decent school and some even state universities were out of reach for me.

      In the Reagan years my grants were cut back pretty hard and I had to take out student loan.

      Actually I took out 2. The first semester I took out half of the max I could take out and then the same the second because I was afraid if I had a lot I'd spend it.

      When I got out was the recession of 83. I was working min wage but never missed a payment because GOP talk at that time was on students defaulting and cutting back on availabiltiy. I didn't want another poor hillbilly to miss out on getting one by some wingnut using me not paying as an example.

      However I have several friends kids here recently who graduated, AT 30.

      They took out huge loans to pay not only for school expenses but to buy computers and other consumer goods. Lived in apartments I never would have thought about living in in college.

      When the major would get too tough they'd switch.

      Wound up with degrees in art and religion and are working at jobs now they could have gotten right out of hs.

      Like you say the whole frugal attitude toward debt and even having summer jobs is different now. For a LOT of the kids I know going to school is about putting off adulthood and work, not preparing for it.

      •  I think the keyword is "some". (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Odysseus, burlydee, ladybug53

        I think the keyword is "some". There are always going to be people who take advantage of situations without considering the consequences.

        I just find it hard to believe that that sect of people makes up a huge portion of those who are currently buried in student debt. Considering the average is only around $25,000 or so I can't imagine it's very many.

        Living in Chicago, for example, I'd be lucky to get an apartment for $700 a month in a terrible neighborhood. That'd add up so fast that the average would be well beyond what it is if that many people did such things consistently. If I wanted to cover that, that's another $7,000+ a year just to live somewhere instead of, say, my parent's house. That alone brings me past the average.

        I am OK with people pointing this out as I'm sure it happens, but I do not feel it represents anything resembling a majority.

      •  The huge difference is not the attitude (8+ / 0-)

        It's the price of education.  Tuition has risen, as has food and transportation costs, all well above the rate of inflation.  Add to that the fact that it's often impossible to get a job, I know I tried to when I was in school, and you have a situation where it is necessary to take out far more loans than twenty years ago.  I wish people who went to school a while back would realize this, especially because the point keeps getting made.  There is nothing especially irresponsible about this generation as opposed to others, we have simply been gouged far more than students previously.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:37:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not All Financial Aid Department Give a Crap (7+ / 0-)

    I had a larger comment expressing my exact situation here and all of the adversity and lack of information I feel many students face... but apparently I didn't post it properly or something because it has yet to show up.

    But I do want to say something smaller -- this post makes a major assumption: that all financial aid departments care about how these loans impact their students financially and emotionally.

    Clearly the OP does think about these things. Clearly the OP do give some sound advice to students he works with.

    But that is NOT the case across the board. And I think assuming that students are being offered this level of care and service is incredibly dangerous. It's also flat-out wrong.

    Many students I know were not in any way afforded a person within the school that was on their side (at least not in retrospect). More and more schools are handled more like car dealerships than sources of education. Many, like mine, seem to exist to identify students they can most easily upsell private loans to.

    I won't bother getting into all of the things that I feel were handled poorly where I went, but there are a LOT of factors that play into this -- family history with loans, experience with money, your age, how hard the school you went to sells themselves, available information at the time, etc.

    I admit some level of ignorance and naivety. But I was also 17 and the concept that I should have fully understood, with no assistance, that I would be signing my life away while the people in power making these situations possible in the first place remained oblivious is profoundly confusing to me.

    Just once I would love my school or my lender to say something that would at least imply that they even slightly agree that my situation is unfair. Instead, the only one suffering for it is me because they have every last right.

    I'm left wondering how we have a financial aid system that would allow students to take out more money than they should have in the first place. The fact that that is even happening is a huge problem.

    •  I had the opportunity to attend 3 major (5+ / 0-)

      universities in my education career, I would say only 1 of them was fully invested and competent in student financial aid advising.  The others were designed to make sure you qualified and got the funding - nothing more.  Unfortunately, I encountered the bad ones earlier in my education so I didn't have the sophistication to know I was being herded off the side of a debt mountain before it was too late.  

      I'm sure within even the good financial aid offices, experiences vary wildly.  That is why more universal protection is required.  

  •  Oooh! Oooh! Ooh! I know the answer! Mr Kotter!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ok, Arnold, what's the answer?

    It's 'cuz their kids!!!!!!!!!!!!  That is why they don't understand the significance of the loans they've taken out!!!

    •  Yes, we must eradicate this ageist attitude. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kamakhya, Lasgalen Lothir

      I've already seen it several times upthread:  posters saying that we can't expect 18-year-olds to take out a big loan because "most aren't qualified to read a loan application"; that numbers like $40,000 are incomprehensible to young people; that any amount over $2,000 is incomprehensible to the poor.

      Of course, we're not just talking about "kids."  We're talking about college students, who are expected to understand complex numbers and read Proust.  To say that a college student can't be expected to comprehend a 5-digit number is ridiculous; to say that a college student can't be expected to read a FAFSA is similarly ridiculous.  

      Furthermore, I think we are far too dismissive of 18-year-olds.  18-year-olds who don't go to college are expected to handle rent, credit cards, utilities and car payments right out of the gate.  18-year-olds are not "kids" who are incapable of dealing with fiscal reality.

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 12:47:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  18 year olds who don't go to college (5+ / 0-)

        are most likely to be living at home.  Not paying for rent, car notes and mortgages.  Do you have any idea what an 18 year old who doesn't go to college makes on their first job?  You are not dealing with reality - you're dealing with an idealized version of how 18 years old are suppose to behave.  Many 18 year olds struggle with freshmen composition - screw Proubst.  That we expect to be educated adults doesn't mean that they are educated adults particularly when they begin the transition from high school to college when most of these loan guarantees are signed.  You say we need to expect more out of 18 year olds but the data doesn't lie.  18 year olds in this country have not proven responsible enough to handle the student loans we give them - that is why we have a student loan crisis.  

        Understanding that you owe $40,000 5 years from now and dealing with the reality that you owe $60,000 but are only making $25,000 per year are two really different things.   Everyone who takes out a loan assumes they will be able to pay the money back - not that they won't owe the money in the first place.  Are 18 year olds dumber today than they were 20 years ago - is that your argument?

        Your whole argument is bogus, because it presupposes that if people had more knowledge they would make different choices.  However, the SMARTEST PATH is to go to college and take out those loans.  If you study who does better, it isn't people who avoid loans and go to community college, its people who go to top universities no matter the price.  The problem is not that people are taking out too many loans while they are in school, its that they can't find jobs to pay for those loans once they leave. And all the fanciful stories of college students supposedly living high on the hog off gov't loans won't change that. I'm sure next you'll tell us how if those students were all engineering majors, they would all have high paying jobs.  

        Are you willing to at least recgonize that the mechanisms of how we fund higher education has shifted dramatically over the last 30 years and that the current funding model places increasing burdens, with less returns, on young people, especially middle class and poor young people? Should we do anything to address that?

        •  Really, now. (0+ / 0-)
          However, the SMARTEST PATH is to go to college and take out those loans.  If you study who does better, it isn't people who avoid loans and go to community college, its people who go to top universities no matter the price.
          I teach at both a community college and a UCal campus (generally regarded as "a top university" on the west coast).

          The smartest students--the ones who do the best--are the ones going to the community college.  One of the university students I still keep in contact with is still living with his mother and still doesn't have a job, and he graduated from the university eight years ago.  And I wish I could say he was atypical, but he's not.  He's just adrift, just as many university graduates are.

          The smartest students I've had, however, generally come out of the community college.  They go to the CC for two years, then transfer to a four-year institution after two years.  Employers only care about the degree, not how it came about--outside of academia, most employers don't ask for transcripts, and even if they do, the transcripts from the graduating institution are all they need.

          Your misreading of Caj's comment is bizarre--you've got the point turned completely upside down.  Caj isn't saying 18 year olds are "dumber today than they were 20 years ago"--Caj is saying the exact opposite.  He's saying that there are a lot of posters here saying exactly that--that 18 year olds are too stupid to understand the loans they're taking out--when, according to Caj, we should assume that the college-bound students should understand "complex numbers".  Seriously, take a step back and re-read what Caj wrote.  You have it completely backwards.

          •  I went to a UC for undergrad, and (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, ladybug53, dilutedviking

            I've also taken some classes at CC's just to learn a few new things.

            The small percentage of CC students that then go on to UC's have been every bit as capable as the 4-year UC students, i agree.


            a) the educational environment at CC's can be horrible, depending on the CC and the particular classes.

            b) the CC-UC path isn't available for everybody because UC's only take a certain percentage of CC students. If everybody did it, then many people will not get to the UC's just based on the numbers.  It flat-out isn't an answer for most people just because the system won't allow a much larger number of people to do it.

            c) The UC's are still a great bargain for what you get. You get a world-class education for reasonable (less by the year) tuition.

            d) not everybody has the option of living with parents for a few years in college, etc.

            •  Well, the UC's are selective, that's true. (0+ / 0-)

              But a good portion of my CC students move on to CSU, which isn't as selective (typically to get education degrees to become teachers).  Others move on to other four-year institutions.  Yes, I am painfully aware that transfer options to both the UC and CSU are getting more and more limited--my CC students remind me that almost daily.

              I've only taught on one CC, and I know instructor quality, even in my own department, can vary--but that's true of a university, too, and I would argue that, for undergraduate work, the UC or any other "research" institution is generally a bad idea, because as students, you won't usually be working with the star scholars or in the primo research labs (there are, of course, exceptions to that--one of my CC students went on to work in the genetics lab at the UC, and is now in grad school in that field).  Most of the CCs and the CSUs are, at least in theory, dedicated to pedagogy, while the UCs are dedicated to research.  In other words, the CCs and the CSUs have a teaching mission, while the UC has a research mission.  I went to a teaching institution for my undergraduate degree and a research institution for graduate work, and it makes a difference in the quality of classroom instruction.

              One of the weird phenomenon in California is that some of the genuinely smarter students wind up in community colleges because they took Honors and AP courses in high school, and got B's or even C's in those classes, resulting in lower GPAs.  On the other hand, a lot of my UC students were, shall we say, "strategic" in their high school classes, taking classes they knew they'd get A's in, resulting in higher GPAs.  I've had the experience--more than once--of throwing out a question, let's say on the Irish Catholic-Protestant conflict, to my community college students that they chew up, and I'll throw the same question in the same week to my UC students, and they'll stare at me blankly.  (Of course, sometimes it's the reverse, but you'd be surprised at how often the former phenonenon happens.)

      •  Hmm, I seem to recall an $800B bailout, and (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dilutedviking, lurkyloo, burlydee

        no college kids were involved.  In fact, it seems to me the people receiving the bailout were the bestest and brightest financial geniuses this country has ever produced, at least that's what I'm told.  And I also seem to recall these very same people wrote themselves a $14T behind the scenes loan so they could buy the real estate behind their bad loans to ensure the buyer who defaulted didn't turn around and buy his house back on the open market....

        Funny how we expect alot out of 18 year old kids who can't vote, alot more than we expect out of our financial elite...

        ... And why are student loans federally guaranteed by a you-can-never-default declaration of protection for the lender?  Why does the college-kid part-timing it as a fry-guy at burger king  have to deal with the federal government garnishing wages and seizing assets, but the lender doesn't....????

        •  18 year olds can't vote? (0+ / 0-)

          When was the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution overturned?

          The reason why student loans can't be defaulted on is fairly obvious.  If people could default on those loans, then it'd become a rite-of-passage immediately prior to or subsequent graduation from college.  With other loans in the dollar range we're talking about, there's a security--the house on a mortgage, the car on a car loan.  If we allowed people to default on student loans, they would (in droves), and the interest rates on student loans would skyrocket to levels that would make payday loan interest rates look like charity.

          •  whoops on the vote - brain thinking drink, (0+ / 0-)

            fingers typing vote.....

            Houses and cars can become worthless, allowing people to default and walk away and the lender loses.  Student loans are unique in that there is virtually no path to default.  So the first loan, and probably the biggest one that many of these kids will take out for the next 5-10 years, is also the only one they cannot default on, the only one where the lender has no responsibilities....

            The reason the loans should be default-able is fairly obvious - lenders are recklessly pushing loans for degrees that won't pay off, and they are not expected to take any risk.

            •  You honestly don't want that. (0+ / 0-)

              Really.  Then we'd be talking about student loans with interest rates hovering around 15-20%, not 3-8%.

              Yes, houses and cars can drop in value (though neither will generally "become worthless"), but that's really beside the point.

            •  Both (0+ / 0-)

              Loans should be default-able and lenders should be forced to be responsible. Look at the for-profit schools employers laugh at. Any responsible lender should know that kid borrowing $8000 a semester to learn 30-year-old computer programming techniques isn't going to get a job. (or whatever - that's an invented example, but I think not far from the truth in some cases, especially in "schools" that serve a minority population in urban areas.)

              If you provide a loan for a scam institution, or even for a reputable school with a poor placement/employment outcome (law school, for example), you should be responsible for eating that loan, or a large portion of it. There is no excuse for the fact that we don't have an appeal process for students who have been scammed and stuck with the loan at the end. It's not mysterious to figure out that if an institution has a high rate of dropout, or a low rate of post-graduation employment, today's Joe Smith signing the paperwork isn't likely to beat the odds, either.

              •  If you want college to be impossible for the... (0+ / 0-)

                ...working class, then go with that.

                Look, let's be real.

                First, this is never going to happen in the first place.  It's completely and utterly unrealistic, even with a Democratic Congress, a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic President.

                Second, if you want college to be available to the working class and the poor, then you don't want people to be able to default on student loans, because once you introduce that, either lenders will raise interest rates to levels that are impossible for even the middle-class to repay, or they will simply not grant student loans at all.  Either results in most of the working class being shut out of college completely.

      •  In same token, those of us who were not (0+ / 0-)

        lucky enough to live a life that offered college right out of highschool are ineligible for scholarships, because we are too old.

        That Unfairness rains on everyone, with ridiculous regularity.

  •  This ought to be taugh in high schools. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    softserve, Kamakhya, Cassandra Waites

    I think there should be at least a semester, if not an entire year, on college student loans, required for all college-bound seniors.

    That takes one of the interested actors--the universities themselves--out of the picture.  The universities have an interest in getting the students' money, so they're not going to act in the best financial interests of the students.  Even if the universities were to set up classes on financial aid, I'm not sure I'd trust them--there's just too much money at stake.

    I can also see it as part of a larger "personal finances" course taught in high schools.  We teach our kids (in theory) reading and math, but no one teaches them how to negotiate the twists and turns of getting a mortgage, or navigating credit cards, or dealing with student loans, and these are things that are just as fundamental and basic to our society.  Yet we turn our young people out to grope in the dark when it comes to their wallets and purses.  They ought to come out of high school with at least some idea why an adjustable-rate interest-rate only mortgage is probably a bad idea, what kinds of terms to look for in a checking account, how to use credit cards wisely, and how much they'll be paying per month, and for how long, in student loans on graduation from college.

    •  I completely and utterly agree (0+ / 0-)

      I completely and utterly agree. I've tossed around the idea of getting some information together and offering to volunteer at schools to give some sort of talk.

      My goal isn't to scare kids or make them hate certain lenders -- but kids need to know what they're getting into. They need to know when they're clearly being taken advantage of. They need to know what's a raw deal. They need to understand those numbers on those papers they're signing and what that'll lead to once that interest really accrues. They have to understand what capitalized interest and all of these other terms mean that they might have never had to consider before.

      Whenever I write a politician about this I suggest a program like this. I actually was able to get Dick Durbin's staff's ear recently and I pushed it to them too. They didn't comment on it, but I tried.

       I think we desperately need something like this.

      •  It needs to be more than a one-time talk. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Caj, Cassandra Waites

        That's been part of the problem here.  Personal finance needs to be part of the curriculum.  It shouldn't be a one-shot "assembly".  It needs to be like everything else--quizzes, books, papers, classroom instruction.

        One of the best lessons I ever got was from "E.Z.", my high school English and Economics teacher.  He spent a day in our Econ class talking about how to use a credit card wisely, and I still remember that lecture, 23 years later.  He talked about how we needed to get one when we were 18 to establish credit in the first place, and to use it maybe once a month to pay for something we were planning to pay for in cash anyway, and to pay it off entirely when the bill came.

        •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

          My thought on the one time assembly is that it'd mostly exist as an addendum to any existing Economics class as this issue will likely be the first notable experience many students will have with potentially high levels of debt.

          But I guess that assumes people have an Economics class (I assume it's part of most schools' curriculum, but I really do not know) and that the class has a good program.

          So I agree, but you have to start somewhere. I figured a one time thing would be that start -- but yeah, obviously I would prefer that it was fully integrated into the curriculum to some degree.

  •  A parallel with knowledge of medicare, medicaid. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I notice that many people have no idea who might be paying for their parents' care in old age, or even for their own care when they get older.  People blithely assume that Medicare will somehow pay for whatever nursing home care may be needed.  

    Even the fact that Medicare requires a monthly payment after it kicks in, and that you still have to pay medical bills when you are on Medicare seems to be a surprise.  

    The true state of things comes as a shock.  

  •  lets get something straight here (4+ / 0-)

    Just going by the stats regarding how much larger the expected income of a college grad is compared to a high school grad means that absent some special circumstances, it is almost always a GOOD financial investment to go to college despite the large loans.

    So some of you need to get off of your high horses when you talk about these silly kids who don't know anything about money, etc. It is financially unwise to NOT go to college in most cases.

  •  As difficult as it is to say... (0+ / 0-)

    Some poor people (and poor is a relative term, of course) have to make choices based on what they can afford, how good they are academically, and what they want to do with their lives.

    For instance:

    One can go up the road to the state university and pay in-state tuition and incur a certain amount of debt, but end up with knowledge and a degree. But the degree may not have that "wow" factor. It may not have been the first choice, but it is possibly affordable. The debt will likely be manageable unless one ends up in a career which pays almost nothing.

    Or one can accept that offer of admittance (but without financial help) from that incredibly expensive private or out-of-state institution and end up owing more than one could pay back in half a lifetime, if at all.

    Of course, if one's going for a career that has a good ROI potential and the need for that "wow" factor to succeed, the high-end school may be the way to go.

    I chose to go to the private school, incurred my debt, and had a very low standard of living for many years as I made my monthly student loan payments. I didn't like it, but I knew what I was getting into from the outset.

    On the other hand, the tuition inflation rate has far outstripped the general rate of inflation and maybe it is no longer financially viable.

    "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"--Eleanor Roosevelt

    by KJC MD on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:58:57 PM PDT

    •  Unless it's an Ivy League school... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KJC MD, Caj, Cassandra Waites's just pure folly "to accept the offer of admittance (but without financial help) from that incredibly expensive private...institution".  It's even greater folly to go to an out-of-state state institution without financial help.

      Most incredibly expensive private institutions--outside the Ivy League (broadly defined to include Stanford, CalTech, Duke, MIT, etc., which aren't part of the traditional "Ivy League")--aren't known at all outside their regions.

      This is part of the problem I was describing above.  People think degrees from state universities don't "have that 'wow' factor".  Here's the truth: neither does a degree from Grinnell College.  Or MacAllister College.  Or Rice University.  Or Creighton University.  Or any of a number of incredibly expensive institutions of higher education that have letterhead and brick buildings that look like Harvard, but are almost completely unknown outside their regions.

      If there is a difference in education, it actually goes the other way.  Most state institutions have enormous sums money to field genuine research in the sciences, while the true star academics in the humanities also tend to be in state institutions.  They also tend to have the kind of money to host serious research libraries.

      •  Essentially (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lasgalen Lothir

        Unless you plan to work in certain sectors of Wall Street or DC, almost any degree is as good as anywhere else. Oberlin. USC. Michigan. West Point. Carlsbad Community College. Etc.

        "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

        by CFAmick on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:41:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  With some exceptions, yes. (0+ / 0-)

          There are some exceptions to that--specific programs that feed into local businesses and industries, for example--but outside of that, yeah, a Bachelor's is a Bachelor's, for the most part, and the longer you're in the work force, the more your experience matters and the less your college degree does.

  •  You should add a chart or two (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, AoT

    to this diary. The parabolic increase in student debt shows just how much of a bubble it is.

    “Take not from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” - President Thomas Jefferson

    by gjohnsit on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 04:30:56 PM PDT

  •  My family is opting out of USA College Tuition!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We moved to 3rd World SE Asia 7 years ago when I took an early retirement. My youngest will graduate from high school in about 6 years with her brother 4 years behind. USA College Tuition is so far over our heads, we don't even think about it. They will be going to local schools that cost less than one tenth of USA College Tuition at most state schools. OK, these schools are probably only 3/4 as good, but at a 90% saving, we will gladly take it. This way, there are no student loans and there will be some inheritance left over for them. This seems to be the rational way for us to go.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 06:56:24 PM PDT

  •  I took out loans for (7+ / 0-)

    the years '92-'93, '93-'94 & '94-'95, at a state university where I was a resident.  Afterwards, I believe my principal was under $25,000.  I say "I believe" because I no longer have any way of knowing what my original principal was; but three years at a state university back then wasn't that expensive - the largest year was a study abroad for $11,000 and that I remember.

    The loans were from varied sources, with various terms, and numerous; some were grants, some were public, some private, it was really too complicated to keep track of, work full time, and graduate.  Today, there is no way to find out what my original principal was because they have changed hands so many times no one knows.  With every change of hands, the various loans were bundled and rebundled, with new terms and servicers.

    Now they are with the government, which has now passed off the servicing to some private company.  And my balance is now - get this - over $90,000.  Just before the crash in '08 it was $65,000.

    I have no idea how this happens.  I did make payments for years, with periods of forbearance here and there when times were tough.  But I would say I definitely paid back at least half of what I originally borrowed.  So frankly, I don't give a damn.  I never borrowed even close to that much, and there is no way in hell that I am going to be a debt slave for the rest of my life so that some fat cat can make a 300% profit off of my education.  It just sucks because unless I win the lottery I will never be able to buy property - not with $90k in debt over my head.

    So, in answer to your question, when you take out a mortgage it is one loan, one amount.  My student loans were nothing like that - there were more than a dozen, making it extremely hard for a financially challenged, hard-working, young and sleepless college student who has absolutely no experience borrowing money, to keep track of.  And I'm sorry - I wanted my education and nothing was going to stop me.  Frankly, I thought that after almost twenty years of being a licensed, bi-lingual architect I would be able to pay it back anyways.  I was wrong.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 07:03:58 PM PDT

    •  This. (4+ / 0-)

      I am so glad you shared your experience.  My law school loan experience has been much the same, although you expressed it much better than I could.  There are definitely some people on this thread that just don't seem to get it.  Thank you for sharing-

      •  thanks Ramoth (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Cassandra Waites, dotdash2u

        I am a little relieved to hear so many stories coming out now and that I am not alone. My loans were always something I just figured I got screwed on and I had to live with it. Now I'm pissed - when there are so many people out there with the same problem it's obvious it's not just a bunch of reckless irresponsibles.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:00:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you are definitely not alone (0+ / 0-)

          I know many others that are in our situation.  There's a lot of shame surrounding a large amount of debt.  With student loans in particular, the right wing has been very successful in framing the debate as one of irresponsibility on the students' part, not the lenders or schools.  Thanks to Occupy, this is FINALLY changing.  I've thought often about writing diaries regarding this topic on DKos, since it's not a frequent diary topic, but the whole thing depresses me so much that I have a hard time writing about it.  Maybe eventually I'll get up the guts.  Keep your chin up, though.  There are many of us out there and I think-eventually-the whole thing will collapse, one way or another.  

          •  It's not just the right wing. (0+ / 0-)

            However you want to interpret it, we deal with a public crisis in part by identifying and discouraging risky behavior.  We combat STDs by discouraging unprotected sex; we combat automobile fatalities by enforcing seat belt laws.  We do this regardless of whose "fault" it is.

            None of this should be construed as blaming the victim or "framing the debate" as a matter of personal responsibility.  It's simply a smart and effective form of prevention, and contributes to public health and safety.  And we certainly shouldn't repeal seat belt laws or stop teaching sex ed because it could be construed as blaming the individual.  

            If anything, the right wing does the opposite of what you say.  The right wing consistently fights prevention measures, they oppose sex ed, they oppose seat belt and helmet laws, they oppose any government program to discourage risky behavior because apparently they want to preserve their cherished freedom to be at risk of great suffering.  Prevention programs are inherently progressive, and not "right wing frames."

            With respect to the student loan crisis, we should be doing three things:  addressing the root cause (regulating lenders,) creating a system to reduce the crisis (centralizing student loans, having an IBR program,) and identifying and discouraging any risky behavior that allows the threat to manifest as harm---in this case, discouraging borrowing behavior in which the borrower signs without observing or remembering the details.  That is to say, we should address this crisis the same way we address any other.

            Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

            by Caj on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 10:46:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •   I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

              regarding your three-pronged approach to student loan crisis prevention.  With all due respect though, I'm not sure educating students about loan risks will help as much as you think.  Yes, in a rational world, education is all it would take to keep students from borrowing too much.  But as we all know, not everyone, either students or adults, always acts rationally.  That's why we have bankruptcy laws; people often take on far more debt than they can handle.  Or, far more often these days, people act rationally regarding their debt, but then they or their spouse loses their job or gets sick and all hell breaks loose financially.  Here's why I think education, while part of the solution, will still fall far short of ending the student loan crisis:

              1) Education has become what the legal field calls an "adhesion contract", i.e. one where there is unequal bargaining power between the parties and/or one party has little choice in signing the contract.  A good example of an adhesion contract are cell phone contracts, since they are often for 2 years and their is little competition between the major carriers. Education has, in my opinion, become an adhesion contract in many instances because even when a student tries to act rationally, like attending community college and then local State U., education costs are still so expensive that they come out of school with large loan debt regardless.  They know they can't get a decent job without an education, tried to mitigate the cost by attending the cheapest route possible, and still ended up with loan debt.  Yes, they may have less debt than they would otherwise have had, but the debt interest compounds like you wouldn't believe if you must defer due to unemployment, or if you default.  

              2) Education about loans won't help with the private student loan market.  Yes, students should be told, at every opportunity, that private loans are terrible and should never be used.  Personally, I think they should be illegal, but as of right now, they're not.  Students often take on private loans in grad school or if they are attending a for-profit institution.  It's difficult to do just "do the math" on those because they all have variable interest rates, making it impossible to tell how much your monthly loan payment will be.  

              3)  Finally, there's a lot of fraud going on in the student loan market right now.  The most visible perpetrator are the for-profit institutions, who downright lie about job prospects and post-graduation incomes, but I would argue that a healthy chunk of law and other professional schools commit fraud as well.  I personally was told by my locally well-respected law school that I would be making so much money after I received my JD that my loan payments wouldn't be a big deal.  Many others were told the same.  Yes, people could-and should-do some research regarding programs and not believe everything the school tells them.  Again though, you are expecting everyone to act rationally even in the face of downright fraud.  It can sometimes be impossible to get real stats regarding post-graduation incomes and loan debt (many law schools right now, for example, are being sued for lying about their employment and salary numbers).  

              I don't mean to attack you here.  I agree that more financial education could help.  Unfortunately though, the problem has gotten so big and complicated that education alone is now just a very small part of the solution.  

  •  folks just sign the papers put in front of them (0+ / 0-)

    that's how they get taken by surprise

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    Real journalists know that lies do not bring "balance" to truth! (h/t elwior)

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:12:00 PM PDT

  •  This loan thing is going to end badly for the left (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice, AoT

    because so much of the talk is based on right-wing memes.

    I dare you to show it's a bubble.

    Show proof.

    Because this has been studied.

    The upshot is that they will make student loans less accessible.

    Schools will become richer and whiter, while a few unrenowned private schools fall off the map.

    The bubble talk is pure right-wing drivel easy to disprove. The rises in tuition are almost totally due to the lack of gov't support for education.

    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 Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 08:25:36 PM PDT

    •  With tracking in public schools and the school- (0+ / 0-)

      to Jail Pipeline, we have already made higher edu out of reach for most Americans.

      So it's a moot point.

      The freaken planets have to align, and the heaven's part for many people to see that opportunity come to pass for themselves or their kids.

      It's not just a bubble,

      Our entire educational system and the way our corporations have parasitized that system is in large part WHY there is such a gap not only in income, but in education.

      In short this unholy alliance is driving the poverty cycle.

      •  In the vast majority of the USA however (0+ / 0-)

        public higher education is still affordable, even for very poor kids.

        My state the yearly tuition is below $5k for the state university. The national average is $7k.

        I agree with you that there are other states like PA or California that have left their kids behind.

        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 Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 04:50:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was that numb when I went to college at 17... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and it was two years later, when my mom bought a truck and I realized that we were basically buying a truck a year for the price of my education. (I was going to Tufts U. which was one of the top five expenseive colleges then on par with Harvard and MIT.) At that time I was depressed and hung over and my A's and B's were becoming C's faster than I could stop the slide. It was a sharp awakening to what the prices really were for me.
         I ended up dropping out, partly because I couldn't see how I was going to be able to pay that back and didn't want to take on more. Perhaps I should have muddled through at the time, but it's all good now and I like what happened in the interim.
        Meanwhile, I was extremely lucky because people who tried to go back to school in the 1990s or so found out terrible things like their credits were not transferable. I started back after that fight was fairly well taken care of and I had no trouble at all picking up where I left off, so now, Like Barbara Streisand I can say I'm a graduate.
        ps- it took me ten years after dropping out to pay the 2 years worth of school loans but I did it, and I did it working retail and raising a family with a husband who has always been underpaid for his value because he has 35 years experience in his field but no degree. Now I realize that prices are out of hand and it does seem to be a racket and true fraud must be stopped. But today's prices for the smaller colleges are similar to what I experienced- and as a drop-out working hourly wage jobs, I paid the loans back.
    So, at the risk of alienating a lot of people, I must say that when I hear the clamor for student loan debt relief I still have to say "did you or didn't you sign on the dotted line?"

    •  I didn't sign anything (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nuclear winter solstice

      I just clicked some buttons on the internet.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 07:48:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It sounds like this is one of the big problems. (3+ / 0-)

        You mentioned this before, and it seems like the ease of application is a contributing factor to incognizant borrowing.

        I'll have to go over this thread to see what suggestions we have for understanding or limiting that kind of borrowing behavior, but it sounds like we need to make the lending process more "official," with the signing of paperwork in person to emphasize its significance.

        That being said, it isn't the only problem.  I saw a disturbing comment on the NPR article by someone who works at a financial aid office, at a university where students are required to come to the office and sign loan paperwork in person.  According to this poster, students often sign without looking just the same.

        Nevertheless, it shouldn't be possible to borrow this kind of money with a mouse.  If the federal government wants to make it easy to borrow, they can instead reconfigure that simple web interface so that produces some kind of committment, locking in a loan amount and rate, but which then requires a seminar and a signature on a separate promissory note.

        Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

        by Caj on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:14:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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