Skip to comments.The Great College Hoax
Posted on 01/15/2009 10:10:48 AM PST by rabscuttle385
Higher education can be a financial disaster. Especially with the return on degrees down and student loan sharks on the prowl.
BY KATHY KRISTOF
As steadily as ivy creeps up the walls of its well-groomed campuses, the education industrial complex has cultivated the image of college as a sure-fire path to a life of social and economic privilege.
Joel Kellum says he's living proof that the claim is a lie. A 40-year-old Los Angeles resident, Kellum did everything he was supposed to do to get ahead in life. He worked hard as a high schooler, got into the University of Virginia and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history.
Accepted into the California Western School of Law, a private San Diego institution, Kellum couldn't swing the $36,000 in annual tuition with financial aid and part-time work. So he did what friends and professors said was the smart move and took out $60,000 in student loans.
Kellum's law school sweetheart, Jennifer Coultas, did much the same. By the time they graduated in 1995, the couple was $194,000 in debt. They eventually married and each landed a six-figure job. Yet even with Kellum moonlighting, they had to scrounge to come up with $145,000 in loan payments. With interest accruing at up to 12% a year, that whittled away only $21,000 in principal. Their remaining bill: $173,000 and counting.
Kellum and Coultas divorced last year. Each cites their struggle with law school debt as a major source of stress on their marriage. "Two people with this much debt just shouldn't be together," Kellum says.
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...
"The two disillusioned attorneys were victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that's just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle. The ingredients are strikingly similar, too: Misguided easy-money policies that are encouraging the masses to go into debt; a self-serving establishment trading in half-truths that exaggerate the value of its product; plus a Wall Street money machine dabbling in outright fraud as it foists unaffordable debt on the most vulnerable marks."
Getting a college degree isn't always a bad thing, but it's not always a good thing, either.
I love that line. And I couldn't agree more.
O boo hoo hoo. If each had a six figure income, then I’m guessing they were living the high life instead of paying off the debt. If they had lived on one of their incomes and used the other to pay off the debt, they’d be done with it by now. Silly people.
Swing and a miss!
>>Kellum did everything he was supposed to do to get ahead in life. He worked hard as a high schooler, got into the University of Virginia and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history.
A History degree? Perhaps, if he had studied something useful...
I would recommend attending school on a part-time basis (and working on a full-time basis, or close to it) as one possible alternative to this scenario. I can't think of too many careers in which $140,000 of debt would actually be a good investment.
Was there some reason this couple with two six figure incomes couldn’t live on one and use the other to retire their loan debt?
While I agree than higher education is now one of the biggest scams on the planet, this couple have only themselves to blame for poor decision making.
Beyond the fact that he received a BA that guarantees you’ll need to go to grad school unless you want to teach HS for peanuts, these people lived in LOS ANGELES—one of the most expensive cities on the planet. No wonder their six-figure salary went nowhere.
Why didn’t they take their fancy law degrees and move somewhere cheaper?
Is profitability the only measure of usefulness?
“If each had a six figure income, then Im guessing they were living the high life instead of paying off the debt.”
Oh, and the LAST thing this country needs is more “degreed” history graduates and lawyers.
Together, they make in excess of $200,000. If they rented a small apartment or paid on a small home and had low ownership cost cars to drive, then there is no question that this debt could be quickly paid off.
They are living expensive, rather than prudent, lifestyles.
Graduated with no debt. First year salary more than paid for all the cost college plus interest (ROI - 1 year).
Of course, I was a geek, spend many a weekend studying and my employer actually expects productivity and something of value.
Nonsense. Nothing increases one’s bankability as surely as an education. With few exceptions there is no greater obstacle to earning potential than lacking education. For every billionaire dropout like Bill Gates there are a million earning $35,000 a year.
Each of you hit the real big issue!
It’s true that it works for some and not for others. I hold four degrees (a Bachelors, two Masters and a Doctoral Level degree). At 46 I still have $59,000 sitting out there at 3.75%. Was it worth it? Yes. Why? Because I was able to get into ivy league programs and parlay them into a very high paying career.
To undertake that financial obligation for a soft science degree and masters or law degree from a third tier university and then to marry someone who did the same thing might not be an ideal financial move. It works on a case by case basis.
Los Angeles does indeed have a lot to do with it. I’m struggling too, because my rent is about 400% of the norm. But I love it here, so I just... keep struggling.
Where did this goofball get the idea that a degree in history would make him money?
This article is idiotic.