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.
That’s okay. I was talking about the Boards of Directors of the Fed and international banking. Pay starts above $10 million and if it doesn’t you have kicked open the door to the janitor’s closet.
Community College is very affordable. In NYS tuition is in the $3000 a year range. The maximum Pell Grant is is around $4300. TAP grants are also available, as is Work Study. Colleges have Foundations which give out scholarships. College can be done if you’re smart about it.
Sure, they can find jobs. Many of them will include phrases like:
Would you like fries with that?
Priority or Express Mail?
Right. Law school, probably Yale, is where it’s at. How you get there is up to you, but grades count.
Well, Mom n Dad didn’t raise “greedy”-— Generous he is, and will never have a payphone installed for guests to use...LOL....;^)
That’s right. I figure more and more doesn’t really add up to much unless you have something in mind such as might occur to somebody with a few $ billion to invest. A few $ million isn’t worth the stomach ulcers or chancing what happened to Alger Hiss, but a few $ billion is a different game.
When you are 18 years old, you don’t know what the future will hold.
I have a degree in computer science, and now I am a stay at home mom. Why did I get a degree?
Well, for one I worked for 10 years before I had kids. I met my husband at work. He was way more educated than the men I would have met if I hadn’t gone to college.
Because I have a college degree, I can substitute teach at my daughters’ school.
I figure I’ll be able to do something else with my degree later on when my kids are older.
Darn. I didn’t realize it was so expensive. I was planning on going back and earning a degree in Black Lesbian Feminist Native American Environmental Multi-Cultural Educational Studies...
FedGov money is still not dominating, and fortunately (I think it is a good thing) there is no Education system. It goes State by State and even then District by District. Local taxes pay for most of it.
My real estate tax statement is itemized. Local grade school, local high school and local community college. School taxes are by far the majority of my real estate tax.
Here in Texas all school tax money goes to Austin where it is divided up on a "From each according to their means to each according to their needs" bases, it's called Robin Hood here.
I guess everybody forgot about this part: And the Boomers aren't retiring anytime soon either.
Hey, I'm the Jr guy in the office and I'm 39!
There aren't any young engineers coming through the ranks so I'll probably never be in charge of anybody. I'll be the junior guy until I'm 60 and the boomers all drop dead. Then I'll be in charge with no one to be in charge of....
This deserves an Xer ping.
Of course it won't be a moment until some greedy geezer calls me a slacker for pointing this out....
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
That is what happens when the college loan companies have been bribing most of the financial aid counselors in all the colleges.
I'm in the navy and I read an interesting quote in one of our magazines somewhere. Only 9% of veterens use their GI Bill to get a college degree. The remaining 91% will take a class here and there or never even touch it at all.
Don't know if it's true or not but I know quite a few guys who have no desire to go to college despite the fact that they paid into their GI Bill.
Well, he may know the difference between "common" and "come on." :P
I'd like to know what "private" institution costs this little. I guess this is strictly tuition. Where they really kill you is in the area of room and board. I think most private universities are now costing between 34-40,0000 a year. My daughter just got her masters from Carnegie-Mellon and her two-year bill is around $100,000. I really don't think she has any idea what the monthly cost of that tuition bill is going to be and how much of her paycheck it is going to take.
College costs are outlandish and no one is looking at why. The "fix" that people like Hillary give you, is being able to borrow more money. That is NOT actually the problem, Hill. But, she has a lot of friends in academia, and no one will touch this at all. Meanwhile, the middle class is going bankrupt trying to get a college education for their kids.
Now, a personal note: My youngest daughter is attending Washington State University (Wazzu) and the facility they describe is known as the "Rec Center". My daughter frequents it quite a bit because they have an indoor running track (the campus boasts lots of hills and snow and ice in the winter -- not good for running), exercise and weight equipment. The pool is used by the university for classes as are several classrooms that are in the building.
It may sound like a luxury, but the kids do use this for various types of exercise and the school uses it for classrooms.
My daughter told me the same thing some years ago. A bachelor's degree is becoming about as worthless as the high school diploma. You need a masters, so, more and higher tuition and more bills at the end of it.
On top of that many private schools are sitting on huge endowments that they WONT touch.
Dirty little secret about Harvard’s endowment:
It’s big. And the way it’s invested, it’s way, way past critical mass. The investment income generated by endowment ALONE can cover the tuition of all the students, and then some.
Correct! College supply hasn't increased as much as demand has with the grade inflation caused due to state programs that give free rides to so many kids. The end result? The free-market for college space has to adjust to the increased demand vs lack of supply.
CPI figures (which I consider to be low-balled politically) would indicate that my college loans would total $30K plus in today's dollars yet I had paid them off within 5 years of graduation. Of course, I wasn't driving a new car and "keeping up with the Jones's"!
It is (and always has been) a matter of priorities!
I’m graduating with $20K in unsubsidized student loans for my final two years of school. If you consider that this is for appx $5K each semester — and my tuition alone has run $3500 at a state school — it’s impossible to NOT come out without debt.
Typical semester @ 15-18 hours runs me 3500 for tuition/fees . . then add $100+ for parking, and roughly $300 for books. Then notebooks, the $130 graphing caluculator I had to have for physics and algebra, a laptop (which okay was a luxury but I would have DIED without one for note taking — it saved SO MUCH TIME!). I commute, so add gas — and lunch money. Then assorted other fees for organizations — like professional ones which are pretty much required if you want to go to graduate school.
I can probably come up with more. And I haven’t even approached the issue of “living” expenses. $5K a semester for school specific crap is a drop in the bucket. I don’t know how the 18-23 year old crowd does it. I’m lucky to be married and that hubby has a great job.
Just for reference if anyone is curious . . . this is my summer tuition statement. I’m in 14 hours this summer (roughly a “normal” long semester number of hours). I’m in all lower level classes and I’m graduating in August. Two of these are retakes from when I was 18 and knew everything . . .the other two are sciences I wasn’t planning on taking, but messed up on the dates for when my CLEP was due to be taken so now have to take 8 hours of science to graduate.
The classes I’m taking are a freshman level Sociology class, College Algebra, Anatomy & Physiology II, and Astronomy Part 2. Here’s the damage (and please, keep your eyerolling in check over the fees — I have to!)
Date Posted Item Description Amount
04/11/2007 Sociology 2.00 USD
04/11/2007 Library Use Fee 99.00
04/11/2007 Publications Fee 10.00
04/11/2007 Tuition Resident 300.00
04/11/2007 Student Union Fee 22.50
04/11/2007 Cmm Comp Svcs. Fee 10.00
04/11/2007 Technology Use Fee 78.00
04/11/2007 Transportation Fee 21.00
04/11/2007 Medical Service Fee 33.43
04/11/2007 Student Service Fee 84.00
04/11/2007 Student Advising Fee 19.50
04/11/2007 Acad Assist. Fee- SOCI 5.50
04/11/2007 Recreational Facility Fee 39.00
04/11/2007 International Education Fee 2.00
04/11/2007 UNT Board Designated Tuition 543.00
05/21/2007 MATH 3.49
05/21/2007 Publications Fee 10.00
05/21/2007 Math Assessment Fee 25.91
05/21/2007 Sp Svc Fee- Math Graders 14.40
06/05/2007 Biology 1.00
06/05/2007 Physics 23.84
06/05/2007 Library Use Fee 132.00
06/05/2007 Biology Comp Lab 50.00
06/05/2007 Equip. Fee- BIOL 49.75
06/05/2007 Equip. Fee- PHYS 21.63
06/05/2007 Tuition Resident 400.00
06/05/2007 Lab Fee - Physics 2.00
06/05/2007 Student Union Fee 22.50
06/05/2007 Biological Science 5.80
06/05/2007 Technology Use Fee 104.00
06/05/2007 Transportation Fee 28.00
06/05/2007 Medical Service Fee 33.42
06/05/2007 Student Service Fee 105.00
06/05/2007 Student Advising Fee 26.00
06/05/2007 Acad Assist. Fee- BIOL 29.60
06/05/2007 Acad Assist. Fee- PHYS 54.42
06/05/2007 Recreational Facility Fee 39.00
06/05/2007 International Education Fee 2.00
06/05/2007 Instructional Materials-BIOL 5.50
06/05/2007 Lab Fee - Biological Science 22.00
06/05/2007 UNT Board Designated Tuition 724.00
OH and a final comment — transportation IS not a parking pass — and the medical I have to pay even though I have PRIVATE health insurance. I have only stepped in the library here ONCE in two and a half years, and I have a 3.9 GPA. I also don’t use the Recreation facility on campus, but yet I get to pay for that too!
I question just how important a college degree is for some of them.
It really helps them out when they are at a party and can say they have a degree. The hens go crazy if someone does not and get looked down apon pretty badly. My wife does have a degree, but she has witnessed this. It is pretty shameful the pettiness.
I understand completely, but luckily I stumbled accross Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” and will have my final SL paid off in a few short months. I hope that if I ever have children to help keep them away from this debt trap.
Hoping to soon make my greatest asset, my income, start to work for me.
“Well, duh! If colleges are intent on becoming more like luxury resorts, then of course tuition is going to go up.”
That’s very true. I’m amazed to what the new dorms look like. Much new construction that I see at my alma mater. The administrators will say that they need the fancy digs to be competitive with other universities
Fully agree. The only reason to end up in debt for college is because you want to.
Student loans are also the only loans that can result in garnishment of pay *without* a court order.
If you get the chance, take Dave's Financial Peace University. It'll be the best $91 you EVER spent. My wife and I did it and it's been life-changing.
We just got my first college student registered Saturday. Her tuition is going to be $10K / semester. She can take 10 credit hours or up to 20 credit hours for that price. The college suggested she take 15 hours. She signed up for 19 and intends to graduate in 3 years. I found it amazing it was flat rate.
It's not just student loan debt, either. Most campuses invite the credit card leeches to set up tables -- "Get a free t-shirt when you apply!" -- and students get hooked on "free money."
One of the female freshmen in my class last year racked up five grand on a citibank credit card (with a 29% interest rate) because it was "free"money. Some of these kids are so financially inept it hurts to look at them, and some of their parents aren't much beter.
A fried asked me what could be done with a degree in sociology. I told the friend that would qualify them to study for a masters in sociology. The friend then asked what could she do with a master’s in sociology. I told her then she could study for a PhD in sociology. She asked what she could do with a PhD in sociology. I told her that she could then teach sociology in college. She changed majors.
“I understand completely, but luckily I stumbled accross Dave Ramseys Total Money Makeover and will have my final SL paid off in a few short months.”
Good for you. Ramsey works. My wife and I will be totally debt free in about three years. Mortgage too.
“If you are divorced parents, you have no choice about paying for your childrens college education.
You HAVE to pay for it.”
Does the same legal requirement exist for married parents?
“Does the same legal requirement exist for married parents?”
No. It has been challenged in the state supreme court as violating equal protection laws, but the challenge failed.
You forgot one.
“No. It has been challenged in the state supreme court as violating equal protection laws, but the challenge failed.”
That is amazing! I suppose that it could be an attempt by the State to be more punative of divorces.....I then have to wonder why it is so easy to go thru the process if they want to be so punative.
Schools still take 75% of my property tax. Fairbanksans have a tradition of complaint about gov’t, and when I mention this 75% they suddenly change the subject.
Many who obtain their PhD do not know that they have the key to the world. What they do with it is up to their initiative (which they have clearly demonstrated), but they sure don’t have to get a job. Exec Director of something would be an amusing passtime for a few decades.
I’ve seen this, too, and it’s insane. Normal (well, maybe not so normal, anymore), married parents have no legal financial obligation to their children once they are over 18. If you want to fund your childrens’ university education, that’s your choice, and if not, that’s your choice, too. But somehow once parents get divorced, a right to have your post-secondary education funded by your parents is created. Sometimes I’m kinda glad I don’t have any kids, or an ex.
My son will enter college this year but surpise, surprise they expect mom and dad to take out the loans now instead of the kids.
When did all this happen?
>>the average college student is graduating with more than $19,000 in debt<<
>P-40>The average college student will spend more than that on their first car.<<
Eh, cry me a river. My MBA is looking to cost 80 grand.
I still don’t understand why they have “financial hardship” awards for Executive MBAs though.
When you were not paying attention. The cost of education has gone up at twice the rate of inflation. A fancy school in 1975 was about $5,000 per year tuition room board books and spending, which is about $21,000 today. But the current cost of all that is about $45,000 per year.