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College graduation rates by family income and test scores. More of the richest kids with below-average test scores complete college than of the poorest kids with above-average test scores
If you're paying attention, you can't claim America is a meritocracy. No, it's not impossible to climb from poverty to the top or drop from the top to the bottom, but the deck is heavily stacked against that and getting more so. A college education is rightly seen as a key way to earn a spot in the middle class or above, and one that, in the recent myth of America, is supposedly available to the best and brightest of every class. Not so much:
“Everyone wants to think of education as an equalizer — the place where upward mobility gets started,” said Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. “But on virtually every measure we have, the gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. It’s very disheartening.” [...]

Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference between the share of prosperous and poor Americans who earned bachelor’s degrees, according to Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski of the University of Michigan. Now the gap is 45 points.

While both groups improved their odds of finishing college, the affluent improved much more, widening their sizable lead.

The New York Times' Jason DeParle reports on the struggles of three girls, best friends from Galveston, Texas, to get through college despite their families' low incomes, highlighting many of the challenges such students face. Being at the very top of your class, having taken advantage of every college preparation program and advanced class available to you, being driven and hard-working and smart, isn't necessarily enough if you land in a college environment where most other students had more advanced classes that better prepared them for college work, had tutors and help from their parents and counselors to help them choose the college best suited to them. No matter how hard-working you are, it puts you at a disadvantage if you're working not just to get As but to feed yourself. And then there's the question of just paying for college. Through it all, middle-class students have the advantage not just of parents who can pay more money, but who can advocate for them more effectively, as the sociologist Annette Lareau explains in the article, drawing from her fabulous book Unequal Childhoods.

So, for instance, one of the students DeParle follows accumulated extra debt because:

Angelica reported that her mother made $35,000 a year and paid about half of that in rent. With her housing costs so high, Emory assumed the family had extra money and assigned Mrs. Lady an income of $51,000. But Mrs. Lady was not hiding money. She was paying inflated post-hurricane rent with the help of Federal disaster aid, a detail Angelica had inadvertently omitted.

By counting money the family did not have, Emory not only increased the amount it expected Angelica to pay in addition to her financial aid. It also disqualified her from most of the school’s touted program of debt relief. Under the Emory Advantage plan the school replaces loans with grants for families making less than $50,000 a year. Moving Angelica just over the threshold placed her in a less-generous tier and forced her to borrow an additional $15,000 before she could qualify. The mistake will add years to her repayment plan.

She discovered what had happened only recently, after allowing a reporter to review her file with Emory officials.

Angelica was struggling with a new environment, more challenging classes than she'd had in high school, and how to pay for an expensive college and she was trying to do it on her own. Unwilling to saddle her mother—who works at Walmart—with loans, she had her boyfriend co-sign them. She didn't have people to go through her financial aid forms with her to be sure she wasn't missing anything. And it's not because she and the people around her weren't bright or hard-working. They just didn't have the resources or cultural tools to help her make this leap. That's how it is for too many students in our incredibly unequal economy and education system.

If you look at the stories of individuals, there will be a bewildering array of stories like Angelica's and those of her friends, one of whom is on track to finish a four-year public college after five years, with $44,000 in loans, and one of whom completed an associate degree. But the basic point is this: When the graduation gap between affluent people and low-income people is growing, and especially when rich kids with below-average test scores are more likely to graduate than poor kids with above-average test scores, something is wrong. The American dream is broken.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 07:47 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Rs accomplished another part of their mission (7+ / 0-)

    To destroy the "middle class".

    Tipped & rec'ed

    •  The Conservatives. Not Just Republicans nt (3+ / 0-)

      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 Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 08:05:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Too easy. Let's spread a little bit of that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood

      blame around -- include universities that have become ridiculously expensive while providing an education that is worth relatively less and less.

      Back in the 70s, I also dropped out of college.  I quit after my freshman year when my parents' promised assistance evaporated.  I spent a year working as a janitor, paid a few outstanding bills, then went back, but...

      there was a giant difference between these girls' story and mine -- and it wasn't me.

      I graduated from a decent State University with both undergraduate and master's degrees and $700 debt back in the 70s.

      Worked a number of jobs along the way, but...
      I don't think I could get enough jobs to mange the equivalent of that today -- which, if I remember the numbers correctly, would be about $3,000 in debt.

      The bills I had to clear up when I dropped out were minor compared to what kids get hit with today.  How did you dig out from that and go on?

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 03:51:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The GI bill after WWII gave higher education (3+ / 0-)

      oportunities to millions who would never have been able to afford it and helped create the robust economy that expanded the middle class and made my generation (I'm 65) so successful in that reguard.

      The next generation took that for granted and began to lose ground.

      The current generation must fight to regain the American dream.

      Welcome to the Repuplican nightmare now showing in your current reality.

      Our money system is not what we have been led to believe. The creation of money has been "privatized," or taken over by private money lenders. Thomas Jefferson called them “bold and bankrupt adventurers just pretending to have money.” webofdebt

      by arealniceguy on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 06:25:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Government changed the GI BILL drastically (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhauenstein, radical simplicity

        in the 90s.

        The VA does everything it can to discourage most of us from using it, or using it all. They have a financial incentive to do so. So please do not blame veterans for this, when the VA screws so many of us out of our GI Bills.

        I was on the deans list. I accomplished a great deal, and I was very close to graduation, then I got very ill right after having children. The VA person told me I could not take a break without loosing my funding. I was so sick I couldn't get out of bed. So my money is all gone now, because that baby didn't come with a seabag.

        That's it.

        It took me longer than 10 years because of issues due to my service, and when I was () this close to graduating, they finally found a way to screw me out of the opportunity to be a college graduate. That is after what I would call constant administrative harassment to boot.

        No one cares. I have said this before and I will say it again. No one cares how smart you are. No one cares, and if you fall, there are hundreds of others waiting to fill your space, because you are  a dime a dozen. That is the message I got from the VA, from the mafia we call college admissions, and from America in general.

        If I were a "winner" I would have won by now, so move along, nothing to see here.

        My mother and sister finally graduated with enormous financial debt. Both are gainfully employed. My mother who has the most debt from private loans, cannot pay hers, because the collections agency that bought her debt wants 900 dollars a month, and will not take less than that for payments. She is in default.

        No one cares. We are just poor trash blowing in the wind.

        Thanks 'Merica.

        Bitter rant over.

  •  I read the ny times article yesterday (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, Ojibwa, marina, akeitz

    it is excellent.  Some of my students are struggling because their jobs take up so much of their time.  And I work at a relatively inexpensive state university.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 08:08:56 AM PST

    •  All of my students work (6+ / 0-)

      I teach as an adjunct at a small, rural community college in which working students are the norm. Most hold down full-time jobs. Then they take full loads which means they don't really have time to think about, enjoy, and talk about what they are learning. Too often the focus is on courses which are directly related to last year's occupations and there is little concern for education in the broad sense.

      •  I've always had students that worked (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate, Lonely Texan

        in the past I worked at a commuter campus that was mostly non-traditional students taking night classes.

        What seems different now is that I seem to have a substantial number of traditional college age students that are working full time rather than part time.  It's a relatively small number but I'm starting to have a few students who don't come to class regularly because of work commitments.  They do show up for exams but otherwise are just doing it one their own.

        I wholeheartedly agree with the education in the broad sense being missing.

        "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

        by matching mole on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 10:01:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My husband right now (9+ / 0-)

        is living this reality.  He is a pre-engineering student and also working about 30 hours a week.  He's doing amazingly well, but it's soooo hard on him.  The sad thing is, working 30 hours a week doesn't pay all his bills (including tuition; I pick up the remainder).  I'm stuck with my own college loans, so I can't help much (but of course, the financial aid office counts my income now, since we're married, even though a substantial part of my income goes to loans every month).  Hubby loves school, but he'd like to work less and worries that his work is taking away from his grades.  And yes, there is very little time for the educational experience students are supposed to be able to enjoy in college.  

    •  So right, matching mole, and (0+ / 0-)

      this is a matter that all c's and u's must address.

      Address, as in fix.

      Very involved in higher ed.   Fixes for higher public education seem out of reach...

      Any ideas?

    •  This whole article speaks to me. (4+ / 0-)

      As many of you know, I have an 18 yr old daughter.  She graduated from High School last June.  She entered University of California at Berkeley this Fall.  While in high school, she took her classes at Community College and graduated both high school and CC at the same time.  She earned 2 AA degrees and one AS degree, all with highest academic honors.  She also did not do good on the standardized tests.

      I knew their value and I looked into the test prep courses and I just couldn't find the money.  (They run around $1500.)  I convinced myself that she could do it, because after all, she was already taking college classes.  I have to admit, seeing her getting rejected from all the top private schools, despite Straight As, 3 Associates Degrees and holding a solid part time job as a Kennel Tech in an Emergency Vet Hospital for two years, really pissed me off.  Inside, I wanted to kick myself for not finding the money, not to mention the time.

      So now she is a Freshman at the best state school in the country with the best students from around the world.  She landed in a suite with 9 other girls.  All of them are from wealthy families.  She is the only one that receives full tuition from financial aid and most of the housing was paid for by winning a prestigious scholarship.  

      How did all of that work and all of that Community College prepare her for UC?  Not at all.  She struggled so hard and worked so hard and barely passed.  It was a brutal semester and sorely challenged every smidgen of self-esteem she had.  Granted she is pre-med, but still.  All of her suitemates went to the best schools, did the best test prep, got high test scores, got the best tutors, and learned from a young age how to approach school.  They likely all passed just because they knew how to take a test and had been trained for this their whole lives.  Going to CC in Oakland California is awesome, but not the same as going to the best high schools around the world.

      So, yeah, that 6% ways heavily on me.  There were times this year that I didn't think she would even complete the semester.  But, I'm very proud to say, she passed Chem, Calc, and her other classes and has some good plans for tackling next semester in a better way.  

      I'm sure she will be the 6% and defy all odds.

  •  Very difficult but not impossible. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber

    Guns don't kill people...people with GUNS kill people.

    by thestructureguy on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 08:14:12 AM PST

  •  I look into the hopeful eyes of my grandkids (7+ / 0-)

    They have it all, really.  Smart, atheletic, kind, and good grades.  Their parents live pay check to pay check because of the high cost of housing, utilities, etc.

    I doubt they will qualify for financial aid, even though their parents haven't been able to save for their college.  The local school system charges lots of money for their extra-curricular activities, school fees, etc.  It seems they are out knocking on doors often to beg money from local households.  I know I contribute something on a monthly basis.  I wonder who audits the funds for Drill Team, Football, etc.

    To the point:  I know college is critical for employment; however, I have a hard time prodding them to become the next generation of STUDENT DEBT SLAVES.

    Ours is the worst country in th western world for setting up roadblocks for higher ed.  Scandanavian provide higher ed for nearly free.  Canada charges affordable rates.

    AMERICA HAS BECOME THE LAND OF PROFITS and the heck with the burden it puts on families and kids.  The faux private colleges like U of Phoenix are a complete joke.  They exist to help banks create more debt slaves.


    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 08:18:11 AM PST

    •  We need to do a real comparison (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lonely Texan

      because our supposition about other countries is not correct.

      Canada for instance has very high tuition for public education as well. U Toronto is in the 5 figure range for tuition alone.

      If you compare us to Sweden, you'll notice that most Swedish students go local with education, and yes then tuition is cheap for them. However, many of them take out $10k in loans for living expenses (in a system very similar to the USAs) and end up owing $50k when they graduate. This is common.

      The answers are twofold. Live with parents and attend college locally. Or, put pressure on gov't to better fund education because ed is one of the first places to get cut. In NY state last year, politicians thought nothing of saddling undergrads with a $700 surcharge that didn't go toward funding ed., but toward filling a budget gap. Political cowardice, perpetrated by Democrats.

      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 Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 12:28:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  education needs to be funded (0+ / 0-)

      But we also need to make sure we spend the money wisely.  For instance, I see football players going to games not on school buses, but on private contract buses.  What sense does that make?  I see people going to expensive colleges because they are told they should.  If those students can get into those colleges on scholarships that is fine.  But many want to get in on grants and loans.

      The problem is we now have a system where the loans are risk free but high interest and fees.  They are risk free because the government is going to pay for it, and give the lenders a processing fee.  The students will then be hounded for money the taxpayers have already paid, but they could not pay because of high fees and unreasonable college tuition that is made high because of availability of loans.  The vicious circle.

      I am not sure what has happened in the past twenty years.  I see kids of limited means going and succeeding in college.  Part of that is going to the right school, not the marque school.  I went to a school where right no one can get a degree for less than 50K, living on campus.  It seems to me this is still a good value.  

      One problem I see is that kids want to given everything in high school, walk out of high school and be given a college education, then walk out of college and be given a high paying job.  When something is valuable it is worth paying a high price.  Being willing to pay for education is important.  Every penny we had went into equipment I needed for high school.  Today ask a kid for $50 equipment fee and there will be a rebellion.

      •  You don't have any clue what you're talking about. (7+ / 0-)

        High schoolers these days are hit with a wide variety of equipment and materials fees. It is the norm.

        And what "kids" want is for a college education not to be a gamble. If society expects you to front the $80K to $120K or so for a typical degree (and I don't know what school you know of where someone can get a degree for 50K, but it sure isn't any one of the member campuses of my state's public university system), and you do the work, then society damned well ought to structure things so that you can get a job that will justify that investment. Instead, what we have is the sick and demented every-man-for-himself system in which buying a college degree is treated like any other risk-inherent capitalist investment, and hey, if at the end of it there are no jobs, TFB for you, guess you should have "invested" in a different degree, or a different commodity altogether.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:08:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  $1000+ a year for HS Football (5+ / 0-)

        My son plays HS football and he is required to sell $350 worth of ads, is required to pay a $200 player fee, is required to pay $100 for his cleats, $100 for his spirit pack (sweats, tee shirt), and as an offensive lineman was strongly encouraged to buy custom knee braces $300.

        My other son does track and had we had to pay $75 for a tank top and shorts and we declined paying another $125 for a sweat shirt and pants.  His spikes will be over $100.

        I'm not sure where you live but here in Alabama, they don't give the kids much and our HS is relatively well off compared to most of the others.

        Poor man wants to be rich. Rich man wants to king. And the king ain't satisifed until he rules everything. B.Springsteen

        by howd on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:43:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, that is why I joined the military, because (2+ / 0-)

        I wanted every thing handed to me on a silver platter.


      •  Hey -- sorry about the first sentence in my (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Killer of Sacred Cows

        earlier comment. I think I was just tired, grouchy and impatient, but there was no reason for me to talk to you like that.

        I do, however, think you are buying into a "kids these days" meme that doesn't really address the problem and shifts responsibility for our collapsing educational systems onto the victims of the collapse, rather than the architects.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 07:29:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  well, if there's anything the Oligarch learned (6+ / 0-)

    from the experiment in "universal public education" that culminated in the political and social eruptions of the 60s,  it is that pesky untermenschen will, given an education,  dare to stand up on their hind legs and, reasonably, logically and articulately demand their share of the pie.

    Can't be having that in a proper kleptocracy, eh?

    The dismal present state of "universal public education" is fully intended, a feature, not a bug.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 08:22:28 AM PST

  •  We have a group (the 1%)... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...who don't want to pay for America anymore and they have a Congress that is perfectly willing to support them in not paying for the America that they got rich off of. We got ours, everyone else can fuck off.

    When did this become acceptable? The GOP needs to die.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 09:03:59 AM PST

  •  I'm a middle class dad (4+ / 0-)

    with three daughters: the youngest will have her BA in May. I am a retired teacher with a waitress wife and we saved as much as we could to put towards education, meaning no vacations, crappy cars and heating with wood (free except for labor).
    All my kids will have graduated with a debt that made them sure to work right away, no wandering around for a year or two for them!
    The youngest got to have the entire college experience and went abroad for a semester. There she lived with international students who paid nothing for school and even got a small stipend to live on.
    Diversity in college today may reflect different skin colors more than different economic levels.
    Forty years ago we went to college without putting our parents in the poorhouse. Two summer jobs and work during the school year left you with a workable debt and a few bucks for a beer. My dad used to brag that his three kids all completed college and it didn't cost him a dime.
    For once, "the good old days" actually were.

    •  While the international students may pay nothing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fumie, adirtywar

      for tuition, and/or even receive a stipend for being a student, the tradeoff is (or was - I am more familiar with the situation 10 years ago, before Europeans started paying, or paying more, for higher education) high taxes.

      Effective tax rates of 40% or more for middle class Europeans were normal, along with 20% or more in sales tax (VAT).  Gas taxes?  Sky high.  Car licensing taxes?  Ditto.  Want to watch TV?  Pay taxes to have one authorized to be hooked up.  Etc.  (Additionally, with income far less polarized, good white-collar jobs paid what we'd consider very little.)

      This was the price for generous social systems such as parental leave, higher education, early retirements and pensions, state medical care, refugee and immigrant benefits, welfare for the poor and disabled, etc.  It wouldn't be financially easy, but I'd pay that price - the added long-term security and peace of mind would be worth the significant added financial hit.  But many Americans insist they are not, and want taxes cut more and more.  While there are many possible sources for government revenues, it is impossible to have sustainable government spending without sufficient government revenues.

      We are all reaping the results of a tax-cutting obsession and gross mismanagement of revenues, and I fear it will prove difficult to undo.

      •  I started adding up (0+ / 0-)

        all the crap that comes out of pocket (health care and school etc.) and I came up with about 52%. I'll have to keep the wood stove going for a while. Another $750 tacked onto health care just this year.

  •  It breaks my heart and makes me so angry! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Bronx59, opinionated

    I was in the last generation to have affordable college.  Mid 1980s my highly regarded Land Grant univ. I recall room and board under $2,000 a semester.  A much younger college of mine graduated last year from the same place.  She told me that the tuition sadly has increased ten-fold.

    Tuition costs have risen exponentially due to state cutbacks in funding.  We are now asking individuals to basically pay the entire cost of their education -- we no longer have "public" universities.  SIGH.  We must right this wrong ASAP.

    •  My first year's tuition (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, opinionated

      My first year's tuition was $1000, taking a full load of classes. I lived at home and went to a state university. That was 1980. I was able to pay for my entire education with my own money, grants, and loans for which my payment was around $70 a month.

      A couple of years ago, I took one class at that same school and it was over $600.  Luckily for me, my company has tuition reimbursement.

      It's awful that people who want a college education can't get one without having to take out massive loans and start their careers in terrible debt.

  •  Yet another social institution functioning (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Texan, opinionated

    to put the squeeze on the lower-middle-class and the poor.

    It is more and more the case that it's not only WHO you know, it's WHAT you know about working the system. Terribly unfair to have to have that kind of cultural capital to be able to get by. But it's evident in education, in health care, in all sorts of key areas.

    The systems are BROKEN for all but the wealthy, the well-connected, or the exceptionally persistent. No way to run a healthy society.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 11:59:40 AM PST

    •  How can you blame this on those universities? (0+ / 0-)

      The problem is cultural, not the universities. The girl with the huge loans went to Emory. That's a private institution. Emory charges those rich kids MORE (i.e. above the actual cost per student) in order to maintain their 35-40% redistribution in scholarship money. That's a lot more generous than our tax system.

      The problem seems to be that there is no counseling for such students, that no one calculated the differences for her prior to her choice to attend Emory when a public education would be more affordable.

      And finally, the problem now is that we are increasingly defunding higher education and the rise in tuition is related to the cuts, so that a scholarship at a private school is perhaps in line with the total costs at public schools. But again, this is a cultural problem and not the fault of the schools. The schools are trying to maintain high standards that puts the US system at the top internationally.

      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 Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 12:35:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I will tell you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The universities have become nothing more than self-interested profit centers, building embarrassingly expensive facilities, and hiring embarrassingly expensive  "superstar" profs, and loading it all onto the debt-burdened backs of poorly-informed, middle-class marks. There's no discipline in the system.

        USNews college rankings have become the enemy of social mobility.

        “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

        by Positronicus on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:13:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You say there's no discipline and for me (0+ / 0-)

          that's a Republican talking point. That's what they always say about this supposed liberal bastion. Superstar profs? Most profs are woefully underpaid. Biden says that same line, faculty make too much money.

          Advice: become a plumber if you want money, don't go into academia.

          There have been serious studies done of Higher Ed that show schools are run with incredible efficiency that would make private companies squirm. I can send those to you if you like.

          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 Jan 02, 2013 at 08:52:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The article made the point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that the scholarship student, and her parents, were less capable of being able to navigate the bureaucracy of maintaining (and maximizing) her financial aid.  This is an excellent example of how wealthier kids get the benefit of social capital--such as experience with financial aid--that is not measured by income or wealth, but which compounds class advantages over time.

        It did seem like the Emory student made a somewhat impetuous decision to attend Emory (another situation in which more social capital--i.e., a family that could have been more helpful in assisting her in her college choice--would have helped her), but it was not financially irrational since she was supposed to receive substantial aid.  However, she was forced to take on more debt because than she should have because she was not very savvy about aid.

        There is an element of fault on her part, though, as it seems she ignored e-mails regarding her status.

        "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

        by Old Left Good Left on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:36:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Public schools are a bargain (0+ / 0-)

          I still think going to a state university (main campus or a regional campus) is a good deal in many States.  One does not have to attend Emory (but it is nice, I will admit it!) to get an excellent education.  You get out of college what you put into it and opportunities abound at public schools that will help set you on a successful path.  

          As you mentioned, students (and parents) need to be more savvy about financial aid and costs.  There are many resources out there, both online and in the "real" world, that can help educate the family on how to navigate the financial aid system.  

          "When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along." --Carl Sandburg

          by Mote Dai on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:13:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I know but she was probably thinking of how that (0+ / 0-)

          social capital might pay off for her and her progeny once she became part of the Emory alumni.

      •  Tell that to the adjunct professions who are paid (0+ / 0-)

        less than grad students.

        I don't buy that at all. In fact I don't buy much of anything because I cannot afford it.

  •  I recall a classmate of mine (0+ / 0-)

    who made a habit of trying to sleep through the weekend so he wouldn't have to eat anything. His financial aid covered the school meal program but that only was M-F. He would get through the weekend with a single can of ravioli and did not even have a way to heat it up.

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

    by elfling on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 12:58:27 PM PST

    •  Friday evening stash (0+ / 0-)

      Many of us were in the same boat, and the univ knew it. Friday night dinner in the cafs was the perfect combo of hearty and portable... Eat a big dinner, then stuff a big sandwich, gyro, or burrito wrapped in foil into your backpack for the next day. And three or four pieces of whole fruit that would survive the backlack (no bananas), plus wrapped cookies and granola bars. They were only wrapped on Fridays...

  •  Interesting dynamic, explains much (8+ / 0-)

    The observation that

    rich kids with below-average test scores are more likely to graduate than poor kids with above-average test scores
    should frighten anyone with imagination. We're systematically filling our so-called upper ranks with dumb people with expectations of privilege, and excluding people smart enough to know better. The observation that civilizations don't fall so much as commit suicide makes a lot of sense.

    And now that conservatives are criminalizing poverty, the situation is only going to get worse.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:10:15 PM PST

  •  Chris Hayes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    talks about this in his book Twilight of the Elites. So much for meritocracy. I haven't read it yet, but here is a long, detailed interview of Chris about the book by Sam Seder.

  •  If you all want to see a remarkable demonstration (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John R, GreenMother

    of the effects of income inequality in the USA, versus all the other developped countries of the world, bone up on Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level (google him)

    Here are three exended videos of presentatations he has made.

    Take the time to watch them. It will change the way you look at the world today. It also explains the frustration OWS cannot explain. Best to read the book, and study his tables, they are irrefutable.

    "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage " Ontario

    by ontario on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:21:47 PM PST

    •  Thanks so much for these links (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, ontario

      "A very popular error: having the courage of one's convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one's convictions." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

      by John R on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:00:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope you enjoy them, learn from him. Tell others (0+ / 0-)

        whom you think will gain new insights. He deserves to have a very wide following. The links are all lengthy videos, but there is so much data, all pointing in exactly the same direction, that it is irrefutable. And it is all the various countries' own data contrasted, not his. It has even been cross-tested to ensure  neutrality in the conclusions.

        If you go to there is even more info, and his charts used in his presentations are all there. Nothing substitutes for his book, though.

        His best line is "If Americans want to live the American dream, they should move to Denmark". Same would go for most of the states vis-a-vis each other (same ones at top and bottom of each measure). His data is also very revealing about the 50 individual states, and there is a definite pattern there.

        If you google him and Kate Pickett, inequality and spirit level, you will find all sorts of things (some obviously repetitious).

        "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage " Ontario

        by ontario on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 10:04:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The solution is simple of course. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    howd, fumie, sngmama

    Tax the rich, at confiscatory rates, and use the revenue to fully fund state universities.

    Problem solved.

    Next question?

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:59:27 PM PST

  •  There never was an American dream (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, Hirodog

    Just a mass illusion.  Can we get over this silly myth now?

    It is and was always class warfare. And face, we are losing bad!

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:00:35 PM PST

  •  Education worked for me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Square Knot, barbwires, Kamakhya

    It worked for this kid from a poor, blue collar background...youngest of five and first to go to college in my family...and I kept going until I got a PhD.  

    It would be a shame if other kids could no longer take the path that I did...and that wasn't so long ago.

    I had my college paid for with a very generous scholarship offered to all high school valedictorians in my home state (and offered only at that state university).  Not having any debt after undergrad and grad school was a tremendous financial gift.  I am sure I would still be paying off loans if I hadn't received such largesse from donors, State education funds, and federal grants.  I am acutely aware of the role of the US taxpayer in helping make me who I am.

    "When a nation goes down, or a society perishes, one condition may always be found; they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along." --Carl Sandburg

    by Mote Dai on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:05:18 PM PST

  •  The illusion that Education is path to rising (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marjmar, howd, fumie

    fairness ends long before college.  With the amount of money Charter Schools are draining from school budgers, poor families lose out before their children enter kindeergarten.

  •  Thanks for bringing attention to this, Laura (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barbwires, GreenMother, adirtywar

    I read the NYT article from and was thinking about making it my first diary, but you beat me to it.  :)  In any event, it's heartbreaking.  Emory University's part in Angelica's student loan debt is egregious but sadly, at least to me (I follow the student loan debt crisis closely), not surprising.  Many people assume that colleges, especially the nonprofits, have their best interests in mind.  They don't.  Colleges have become absolutely rapacious in their devouring of family incomes and federal and private student loan money, and they are now run on the "profit first" model even though they are supposed to put education first.  The students and their families are hung out to dry.  It's disgusting.  My only hope is that the whole system collapses soon so that those stuck with this type of debt don't have to face the rest of their lives with crushing, non-dischargable student loan debt.  Affordable higher education is a human right IMHO.  

    •  Rapacious is the word. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When you are on the cusp of poor and lower middle class, but your child didn't achieve genius status on SATs or ACTs or their primary school grades, then you go for loans.

      With the school they judge by need.

      Do you have a car? A relatively nice one? Well count that against you.

      Do you have a tiny house in dire need of repair? Well thats too bad, because you are rich.

      basically they assume, much like hospitals do when someone cannot pay the bill, that if you are not homeless then you are Donald-Fucking-Trump and treat you accordingly.

      •  Yup, that's it exactly. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And god forbid the student has a spouse or parent who is still paying off his or her own draconian student loans, because they don't count that, either.  

        I'm puzzled as to why so many people just go along with skyrocketing college prices in the U.S.  You'd think there would be large street protests by now like those in Quebec over the past year, but nope....crickets.  Mr. Ramoth (a current college student) and I are continually shocked and infuriated by the tuition hikes and prices in our state, and yet, we feel rather isolated in our outrage.  I shudder to think what tuition might be if we ever have kids and they want to attend college. We have been urging my sister-in-law to set up a college fund for our brilliant 2-year-old niece, but she can't afford it and frankly, neither can we-which is the crux of the problem, isn't it?

        BTW, this is completely off-topic, but I just wanted to say that I love your diaries, GreenMother.  :)  You have a fan here in the Emerald City!  

  •  Private student loans bury the middle class as wel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites

    The necessity of private student loans has also created a new level of poor to some degree. These loans have no terms that benefit the borrower, but for many in the middle class they are the only way to close the gap for increasing college costs.

    So you take out what you're told is reasonable. You graduate, you don't find a job right away, the interest builds. And it builds. And by the time you do find a job, these loans are taking anywhere between 25 to 60% of your income. In my case, it was 60%. And unless you know what department to talk to (assuming your loan company even cares this much), they won't do much about it despite your complaints.

    My income is fine. My output to student loans is significantly damaging my life and has prevented me from buying a home or contributing to the economy or anything else in any real way. I might as well be making $20,000+ less than I am because of what I pay to just one group of Sallie Mae loans. And those are not my only loans.

    And I talk to a lot of kids about this (I say kids, I've been dealing with this for 7 years and I'm 30 now). I'm not alone, it's a very big issue. And I sometimes wonder how much of it is not noticed because on paper we should be doing fine while in reality we're drowning.

    I can't pretend this is directly comparable to the poorest in our society being excluded from college entirely. I at least got to go... but all of this is related in some way and the players at the top are the same.

  •  There is a half-truth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freedapeople, GreenMother

    that the whole of capitalism is built upon.

    It appeals to people on such a primitive level that countries, including this one, have allowed the notion to take hold and drive policy since the Industrial Revolution.

    It is simply the idea that anyone can make it

    That simple four words are the whole of the reason folk have rejected Socialism (mostly), and why people vote against their own better interests.

    "I could be a millionaire too, and when I get there I don't want a 70% tax rate".

    Well it is true. Any given individual CAN get there, by dint of hard work and a great deal of luck.

    But here is the rub .... Not EVERYONE can make it, jno matter how brilliant, good looking, inventive or hard working they are.

    The system is designed to allow just a few through, because the model can't support more.

    While the vast majority of people would be substantially better off if we leveled the playing field some, they will not vote for that because .... they bought the lie, because the lie can be true and they don't see the con trick.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 11:46:51 PM PST

  •  education costs have swelled (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    my anecdotal understanding is that administrative costs have skyrocketed - university presidents earn huge salaries and there are many more layers of administration.  these people run around making the professors waste time on irrelevant projects and their support staff is cut

    by chloris creator on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 11:56:52 PM PST

  •  When we retired to 3rd World SE Asia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    seven years ago, it was immediately obvious that my two children (one toddler, other nursery) would never be able to afford USA medicine or education. So we are making the best of it and don't really miss either of these overpriced scams. They will finish their schooling here and then head on to greener pastures. It's not the American Dream (tm), but it's our plan.

    There are bound to be other ways to avoid these two bear traps, so keep looking and good luck...

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sat Dec 29, 2012 at 02:25:52 AM PST

  •  Ouch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I feel guilty everyday for trying to go to uni when I can't afford it and doubt I can make it through with my mental dad isn't working (can't pay for back surgury) and my mom makes like 30000 so I'm trying to figure out how to pay for my mental health treatment in order to get thru uni but seems impossible to do so on top of tuition. #AmericanDream

  •  among all the great points in your post, I saw (0+ / 0-)

    one more piece of news:  Republicans have a great pool of future candidates in the 30% number you circled - very wealthy, lower than average test scores, college degrees.

    Isn't that Bush's resume?

  •  even many middle class students are not propared (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have taught at both large public, small public and small private colleges as a professor. Over the last 10 years I have seen an increasingly unprepared student population, including middle class students. At my current college we had 20% of our incoming freshman class in remediation. That being said, as a small private liberal arts college, we have put money into creating success programs for these students.

    As for the working thing, I and almost everyone I knew as an undergraduate worked at least 20 hours a week, and most full time. There were few dorm rooms on campus, with most of us either living at home or renting homes. This was the early and mid 1990s. During my MA everyone worked full time.

    Part of the reason why tuition has increased is a huge decline is state support. At my current college you pay for every cent of your education, around $17,000 a year plus room and board. State schools are getting up to that cost because they are not being supported any more.

    Also what students are looking for in a college has changed. If you are not keeping up on technology (which isn't cheap) you are not attracting students. They want not just good academic program but lot of other non-necessary crap like state of the art gyms, climbing walls, massive student activity programs, concerts, new dorm rooms, all of which costs colleges more and more. So the cost is not just about your education any more it;s about all the other crap we have taught our kids they should be entitled to. Yet, if you don't keep up with that stuff, you are no longer competitive and attracting students.

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