Skip to comments.Price of Obama's 'College Affordability'
Posted on 09/16/2012 5:00:21 AM PDT by Kaslin
"No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don't have the money," President Barack Obama told the Democratic National Convention as he accepted his party's nomination in Charlotte, N.C., this month.
That sentence -- key in Obama's "college affordability" agenda -- says everything about this administration's approach to selling itself to the American voter.
What's wrong with the message? Let me count the ways.
--It ignores reality. There is no reason a qualified poor kid cannot get into college in the United States simply because of money.
Richard J. Vedder, director of Ohio University's Center for College Affordability and Productivity, told me that Obama's correct, "people might get an acceptance at a relatively expensive private school that they can't afford to go to." But if students are accepted into one college, they can get into another, more affordable college, such as a community college, where Pell Grants cover tuition.
"If he's saying that not everyone can get into whatever college they want to get into, he's probably right," Vedder said. "I'm not sure that the American people would agree that every student should be able to get into the school they want." As an example, he mentioned Harvard University.
--It hints that GOP rival Mitt Romney would usher in a Hobbesian era in which poor kids are denied all opportunity to a college education.
To the contrary, Brookings Institution fellow Beth Akers recently blogged that Romney has "expressed a preference for redistributing aid dollars toward the neediest students."
Akers concluded that both Obama and Romney want to "tackle" college affordability -- Romney through market-based reforms, Obama with increased Pell Grants and price controls.
--It ignores the fact that a college education is not a ticket to the middle class or beyond if graduates cannot land good jobs.
The Associated Press crunched government data recently and found that 53 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. These graduates need good jobs far more than they need a break paying off their student loans. They need careers. They need to see an economic future, a path that can lead them out of a downsized economy.
Recent graduates need a president who can instill employers with the confidence to hire new workers. Yet all Obama can do is wave the promise of bigger loans that are easier to pay off.
Or not pay off.
--It peddles a form of loan forgiveness in the name of "affordability."
Congress already passed an Obama measure to cap student loan payments at 15 percent of a graduate's discretionary income and forgive any outstanding balance after 25 years. This year, the Democratic National Committee platform held out "avenues for students to manage their federal student loans so that their payments can be only 10 percent of what they make each month." Actually, last year, the president issued an executive order that set a loan payment cap of 10 percent of income and proclaimed forgiveness of outstanding loan balances after 20 years for some graduates.
Romney's plan is to offer smarter financial aid, countered campaign policy director Lanhee Chen, "by working to create more diverse, affordable options for postsecondary education and by simplifying the financial aid system."
The Democrats' 2012 platform warns: "Tuition at public colleges has soared over the last decade and students are graduating with more and more debt; but Mitt Romney thinks students should 'shop around' for the 'best education they can afford.'"
America's student loan debt now exceeds the public's unhealthy credit card debt. Still, the Democrats think it's bad for young people to think about finances when they pick a school.
The president's remedy is to tell Americans: Vote for me and you can take out really big student loans. Be not afraid. As Vedder noted, "you've got a pretty good chance you won't have to pay it back."
He’s going to forgive college debts right before the election, and then even FREEPERS will vote for him, I’m afraid.
Vote for anything.
Thinking responsibly about any of this stuff is double-plus ungood.
Buying a college education without paying any attention to the price is like buying a car without paying attention to the price.
> “There is no reason a qualified poor kid cannot get into college in the United States simply because of money.”
It used to be that way before college loans, when tuition was relatively reasonable. With federally guaranteed college loans, the colleges saw an opportunity to raise prices faster than inflation and the viscious circle began.
“With federally guaranteed college loans, the colleges saw an opportunity to raise prices faster than inflation and the viscious circle began.”
Exactly. A similar situation has arisen in health care due to third party payment. If massive government subsidies are fueling spiralling cost growth, then the solution obviously isn’t more government subsidies. Instead, subsidies need to be structured so they don’t create perverse incentives for price inflation. This means fixed dollar subsidies pegged to income which incent people to find the best value for the money instead of becoming price unconscious shoppers.
My family did so, 3 times
The solution was to attend colleges we could afford, or postpone college (in my case graduate school) for work and get the degree while working to pay for it
of course all obama and his bride Lavaughn Robinson know is affirmative action and cheap gubmint subsidized loans so they could get what they think they were entitled to - Ivy league and Harvard Law school
stupid is as stupid does and 2 Harvard Law degrees were never wasted on less deserving characters. Somewhere in the world are 2 people who were not accepted to Harvard Law because these 2 self-disbarred idiots were
I’m in the minority of FReepers on this issue. I think that student loan debt should be treated like any other debt in bankruptcy. As it stands right now, it can’t be discharged. That’s a mistake in my view.
While I prefer a world where the Federal government is not involved in this sphere at all, I don’t see it happening. What I would accept as a compromise is for all Federal student loans to be allocated to the schools that have the best record for repayment. The school with the best record gets funded first then the next and so on until the funds are exhausted. But to make it fair, let the schools or their endowments pay any nonperforming loans to boost their scores.
For the most part (probably 70 percent of cases)...most kids in America ought to start out at the local community college for at least the first year of degree work, and live at home for that year. I would also say that half the kids going to college for a four-year degree....will end up doing sub-standard work and earning an average amount of pay for the rest of their life. The idea that they’d be able to repay $75k of college debt is silly...they simply will delay buying a house until they are forty and put a minimum amount of money into IRAs/401ks for the majority of their life.
We have lost sight of what college is about and what it’s supposed to produce.
I agree. Parents send their kids to college on the belief that it will increase their lifetime earnings. And in the past they would be correct. But now that releationship is not so strong and the upfront costs may well exceed the long term benefit.
I disagree. It may be hard for a family to be objective because everyone wants their child to "succeed". But, in many cases, the student is either not prepared, motivated or even capable of doing college level work. As a general rule:
-- 1/3 of the students in college are capable of doing the work and definitely deserve to be there.
-- 1/3 are capable of doing the work, but not sufficiently motivated to reach their full potential.
-- 1/3 are either not capable of doing the work or not sufficiently motivated to even scrape by.
For those in the bottom third especially, college is a waste of money on the part of the parents and time/money for the student. I shudder to think how many parents have second jobs or mortgages just so that junior can party and sleep past noon. In these cases, its cheaper to just let 'em live in the basement until they finally mature.
Sadly, many professors pass marginal students because of pressures to get good student evaluations and to boost retention rates in their major. In short: they pass them to enhance their promotion and job security prospects. How do I know this? I'm a college professor myself.
The problem with that is that nearly every student coming out of college would qualify as bankrupt. No one would want to lend money. A better solution would be for banks to lend money with an interest rate based on the likelihood of being repaid. So a straight A student pursuing a medical degree could get a cheap loan. A C+ student pursuing a philosophy degree would have to pay through the nose.
Only if the college/university held the debt. Why not make colleges/universities be lenders? And, no more government subsidies. Run it like a real business.
Quick! What other atrocious government yoke has the word “affordability” in it?
This has become a program to keep minorities on the gov’t
tit for a few more years after high skool!
And....................where are all of these college grads going to work? Mechanics, plumbers, electricians and on and on.
Obama want’s every child to go to college. Why? So they can finish off the 12 years of public school indoctrination with another 4 years of professional indoctrination to the communist society?
A college degree is beneficial if you graduate in a field that actually allows you to perform a useful function. Otherwise it’s nothing more than a waste of time and money.
While my “better off” high school graduates spent 4 years in college learning (in most cases) useless endeavors, I spent 4 years in the Air Force learning a trade in electronics...one that has paid off for all of my life and has brought me to a very, very good living.
Under the current “college” push by Obama we will have the highest educated janitors and “hamburger flippers” on earth. Man! Won’t the rest of the world simply look at us with envy.
I don't have a source off hand, but I have read Harvard has an endowment so large that they could operate in perpetuity and charge no tuition whatsoever.
Bankruptcy has a lot of ramifications above and beyond discharge of debt. Getting one may well render you unemployable so it really should be a close to last option.
That said I absolutely agree that provision of loans should be based on ability to repay and the colleges should be the first not last ones to pay in the case of default. This is really not that different from mortgages. If you make it economically viable to lend to poor risks then don’t be surprised at the defaults.
These so-called FREEPERS will not vote for him because of anything he does or doesn't do - they will vote for him by proxy because they afil to discern the differences between him and their "real enemy" Mitt Romney. Same result only less thinking involved...
More on the ignoring of reality aspect: a lot of the absolutely best private colleges have programs which provide full-ride scholarships to poor kids who make the admissions cut. My graduate alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania (#8 in the US News and World Report rankings, #15 world-wide in the Shanghai rankings) has a program under which kids from West Philadelphia (portions of which are wretched slums) who make the admissions cut get a full-ride scholarship. So it might not even be a question of punting the admission offer from the fancy school to go to community college or the local state U.
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