Skip to comments.Graduating with degrees in debt
Posted on 06/17/2007 11:52:39 AM PDT by Graybeard58
My friend's son is moving back home. He is in debt, his mother says. "Up to his eyebrows."
Well, join the club.
Most Americans today carry about $8,000 in credit card debt, which sounds like peanuts to some of us out here, staggering under far more. Lots of this debt goes to all the doo-dads and gee-gaws that we once considered luxuries and now view as staples. But more, far more of that debt is going toward the very lubricant that Americans have been indoctrinated into believing will grease the economic ladder for them: Education.
Education, which Thomas Jefferson once proclaimed as the "great equalizer of the conditions of men," has become the great albatross of the working class. The difference between what a high school student can hope to earn today versus what a college student earns is the difference between Dinty Moore beef stew and bouillabaisse.
A college graduate earns almost twice as much as a high school graduate over his or her lifetime, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Add to that the attendant social and cultural benefits (college graduates tend to vote, read and attend cultural events), to say nothing of the soupcon of wisdom that students might inhale, and you've got a time-tested vehicle for success.
Here's the catch: You have to be as rich as Croesus to afford it. Either that, or you have to embrace indentured servitude. The average cost of a four-year private institution is $22,218 a year this year, an increase of almost 6 percent over last year, reports the College Board. The organization adds that tuition will increase an average of 10 percent each year for public schools and 6 percent for private ones.
College tuition has grown faster than family income for the past 15 years but that hasn't stopped families from doing whatever they can to get their progeny into the higher halls of academia. It is a tragic equation that is tearing at the middle class, leaving it caught between a rock and a hard place: Throw your children to the demons of debt or consign them to a life of dead-end jobs and missed opportunities.
The worst of it is that we are living shoulder-to-shoulder with what USA Today calls "the wealthiest generation in American history." The problem, if you could call it that, is that the people grabbing that wealth are typically over 55. Wealth for older families has actually doubled since 1989. For those 35 to 50, wealth has shrunk. They cannot manage to save and they are smothered by debt.
I graduated from college in 1984 with a debt I then considered crushing: $10,000. For 10 years, I sent little paper stubs of $117 a month off to Wachovia Bank in North Carolina. That seems like chicken feed now, but, remember, I was working in newspapers. Chicken feed is what they pay you.
Today, the average college student is graduating with more than $19,000 in debt, if they're lucky. Go to a "good" (i.e. expensive) college, and it's worse. USA Today reports on students who have six-figure debt, like Rutgers University graduate Joe Palazzolo, who graduated this year with a master's degree in public policy and student loans of more than $116,000. (That's an $800 monthly payment).
College costs will continue to accelerate, and you don't have to have a college degree to figure out why. There's a huge demographic bubble of kids in the college-age group, so it's a buyer's market from a college's perspective.
To make themselves attractive to students, they add fripperies like spas and widespread Internet access, to say nothing of trendy coffee shops, rock-climbing walls, state-of-the-art health clubs and princely dining halls. The University of Vermont recently spent nearly $100 million on student amenities, including an artificial skating pond. Boston University upped the ante with six racquetball and squash courts, a competition pool, a recreational pool, two gyms, a jogging track and a 35-foot rock-climbing wall.
Washington State University boasts the largest student weight and cardiovascular center in the country, a natatorium that features a leisure pool with a water volleyball net and water spa that can accommodate more than 50 people. Ohio State University's $140 million gym includes a natatorium with five pools and two spas, golf hitting stations with putting greens
What, you may ask, does this have to do with Plato?
Ah, but you would have to be a college graduate to answer that.
And that would cost a lot of dough.
Well, duh! If colleges are intent on becoming more like luxury resorts, then of course tuition is going to go up.
A college degree is worth zilch. Add a legal degree, or MBA, or PhD and you might have something. but that would require getting some kind of decent grades at some point. Seventh grade is when they start to notice grades, so that is when the wheat starts to separate from the chaff. Party, get a truck, get a job at McDonalds and disappear in the chaff, or read some of the assigned books and get the grades. It’s never too late: witness the 73 year old who hopes to pass the high school exit exam so he can get married and join the army. If he had done this at age 18 he would be high in the cabinet of his country and on the BOD of an international bank or own a $10 million house in Tennessee and be in Congress.
I can relate... :(
College tuition will continue to increase at exponential rates as long as congress keeps fixing the problem by making more money available.
The more student loans available the more the colleges know they can ask for and get from the students.
Greybeard is correct. An undergrad degree for anything other than science or engineering is asympotically approaching a Wizard of Oz degree. (All political “science” types can look up the word “asymptote”.) Of course, the next step is govt sponsorshop of all college education, followed by govt jobs for the vast majority of graduates who have no discernable skill, followed by “equal rights” and “diversity” requirements so as to provide positions for those entirely incapable of producing income. Such is life. Remember, we already have provisions for the talentless: Rap, civil servants, and - most important - politics. (Common, think of ANYTHING that Gore could really do...)
It won't go away and the universities will continue to increase fees because there is no incentive to do otherwise.
True. But those loans are, at the end of the day, government backed against default.
They have the added “bonus” of not being able to be wiped away in bankruptcy either.
The kids are getting screwed and congress is helping lending institutions do it.
What a wonderful country! Or to quote that great american, Don King, only in America.
If somebody thinks it might be neat to have an income of $50 million a year like those others who clearly aren’t really all that much smarter, they might take a look at what opens doors. Unless he is the son of an elite family already, he will have to take the graduate school route, and physics won’t get it done. Law is the road to success in America. But, get the grades in high school and then in college so you can get your way paid. Be a Corporate lawyer and all doors will open.
And once again I’ll post this, just so it college doesn’t seem hopeless and out of reach financially. It is possible to graduate with your bachelors tuition free.
Dual credit during high school will earn an AA, with no tuition. Many, many states have merit scholarships that provide full tuition and books, if you score high enough on the ACT/SAT and attend a state university. In Florida it’s called Bright Futures, in Georgia, I think it’s called the Hope Scholarship.
Of course, to make this work, you have to attend state universities, and be fortunate enough to live within communiting distance (thus eliminating housing expense.)
I sincerely doubt that there is any significant difference between, say, and education at Harvard, and one gained at UMass or Boston College. Except that, when on job interviews, you can drop the name “Harvard”, get ooh’s and aah’s and much more moolah. Meanwhile, not a single person among the the Forbes 500’s top 50 has a degree from an ivy league school. Homeschooled kids routinely outscore students from the nation’s top private schools on standardized exams.
Man needs a little cheese with that whine, the last I heard the united state military was still paying tuition after active duty service. So save your money, don't be a coward, saddle up!
Oh, it worked for me!
OKAY, I realise anecdotal ain't much, but I know that our son would not be where he is if we, and his older brother, had not pushed him after the Masters thing. Heads up the Equity derivatives research dept. for a large intl bank now.
Never with a BA or Masters would he have gotten this far....Beat out the MIT,Harvard, Yale guys who laughed when they saw he came from Flori-DUH for his first job at JPM on Wall St.
As I said, anecdotal-totally- but illustrate what advanced degrees can do for ya...BTW, taught at Florida while going and No Debt at graduation....We are blessed with our kids beyond our understanding....
So why do I (as an engineering student) get labeled a bigot when I tell arts students that they won’t find jobs when they graduate? Dare I speak the truth?
Thats not the problem. The real dirty little secret here is every middle class parent is paying his kids tuition. AND the tuition of 1 or 2 minority or poor kids tuition. On top of that many private schools are sitting on huge endowments that they WON’T touch.
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