Skip to comments.How An Unlimited Supply Of Borrowed Cash Is Destroying Higher Education
Posted on 12/27/2019 8:58:53 AM PST by Kaslin
You have to go to college was an article of faith when we were growing up in poor families. Now we wonder if our ticket out of poverty still has the same value. Far too many of this generation are leaving college with substantial debt and few meaningful job opportunities.
Put a little differently, what is the value of a bachelor’s degree in womens studies or sociology or any other fields that are not science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or business? Ask some of the young people working at your local coffee shop or favorite restaurant. They will probably tell you, not much.
The problem has become so overwhelming that politicians are talking about free college and forgiving college debt. It sounds good. The truth is that these proposals are a disaster in the making because they ignore the root cause of out-of-control costs of higher education.
What is the root cause? It is an effectively unlimited supply of cash for public universities and colleges to squander without any requirement to improve. Over the past few decades, U.S. higher education has seen dramatic changes, few of which have been for the better.
According to Benjamin Ginsberg in “The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters,” Administrators and staffers actually outnumber full-time faculty members at Americas colleges and universities. … Forty years ago, Americas colleges actually employed more professors than administrators. In the not-too-distant past, many universities treated a deanship as a part-time job. The dean had to teach, conduct research, and provide service. Now the situation is very different.
We went to the website of a local public university and checked the office of the dean of the business college. The site identified the following vaguely titled and well-paid hangers-on: senior associate dean, associate dean for undergraduate programs, assistant dean for academic services, administrative specialist, technology and database specialist, marketing coordinator, assistant to the dean for finance and administration, senior major gift officer, and director of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education.
This does not include the multitude of secretaries and assistants who support these dubiously necessary administrators. Nor does it include the deans for other colleges, the department heads, the office of the president, or any of the other administrative offices. Bear in mind, this expensive phenomenon is replicated across colleges and universities throughout the country.
Once in place, these administrators justify their existence often by the simple expedient of spending more money. As Bill Bennett, secretary of education under President Ronald Reagan, explained, The tendency of the colleges and universities at the undergraduate or the graduate level is to charge as much as they can, and continue to build and expand.
Thanks to federal cash and the increasing willingness of families to borrow to pay for college, universities began a multibillion-dollar building boom across campuses, featuring private dorm rooms and network TV-ready football fields. Colleges themselves went into debt to pay for these extras. By the end of 2011, more than 500 colleges and universities rated by Moodys Investors Service had $211 billion of outstanding debt, compared with $91 billion in 2002.
Does any of this improve the quality of education? The answer is almost certainly no. It does increase debt for the institutions, taxpayers, and students.
Consider the long-term debt in one state. As of June 30, 2010, the total long-term debt owed by Mississippis higher education system was $958.1 million. By June 30, 2012, this debt had increased to $1.1 billion. By 2017, five short years later, long-term liabilities had climbed to nearly $5.9 billion. This debt is a breathtakingly huge mortgage on the future of Mississippi, its taxpayers, and students who attend the universities. This is just the long-term debt in one small state.
Like any mortgage, someone has to pay the principal and interest. State funding of colleges and universities has declined. But raising money is easy: Students can borrow and borrow to pay higher and higher tuition. Since 2000, even in a poor state such as Mississippi, average tuition among its eight state-supported universities has more than doubled.
One of the dirty little secrets is that tuition does not include a plethora of fees such as student activities, capital improvement fees, post office boxes, student ID cards, parking permits, wellness education fees, and orientation fees. As the universitys webpage explains, This is not an exhaustive list of miscellaneous expenses and the amounts are subject to change without notice.
Since student tuition and fees (much of it borrowed) has become a primary source of funding, keeping the student population on an upward trajectory has become paramount. As a former dean at a local university once explained, the facultys job is to keep butts in the seats. A president put the demand somewhat more eloquently, stressing the importance of student retention, progression, and graduation rates.
Did you notice what was missing? The president made absolutely no mention of learning. So what if there is grade inflation? So what if students graduate with useless credentials? The goal is to retain, progress, and graduate and, of course, keep money flowing in. Ten years after finishing college, one in five graduates is holding down a job that does not require a college degree. Keep in mind, this only includes students who actually graduate.
Even in this environment of retention, progression, and graduation, the sad truth is that the four-year graduation rate for students attending public universities is 33.3 percent. If we stretch it out to six years, the graduation rate climbs to 57.6 percent. Students who fail to graduate, however, are still obligated to pay debts they cannot discharge, even through bankruptcy.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, For every new dollar of federal student aid, tuition is raised by 65 cents. Administrators claim costs are driven by state and federal regulations, an increase in litigation, and costs of accreditation. Not everyone agrees. Professor Benjamin Ginsberg dismisses the argument that this increase has been a necessary response to mounting demands from government and accreditors.
If student debt is forgiven and college is made free, there will be even less reason to stop spending. We, the people who pay, must demand that universities and politicians focus on education.
"shortbio">Ms. Jude is a practicing corporate defense lawyer. She served as a JAG officer in the USMC. [email protected] Dr. DePree is a retired college professor who served as an infantry officer in the USMC.
Fauxcahoness’ smoke signal today read:
“The SPICE must flow”.
There is another side of that, and that’s jobs.
In an environment where the tariffs were lowered and jobs were flowing overseas, an education doesn’t do you much good.
In an environment where the tariffs are restored, and industries are staying, investment and innovation is occurring, then a degree is of much greater value.
I honestly did not know the borrowed money was still flowing so freely.
Another dirty little secret: STEM degree programs are a LOT more expensive to run than crap degree programs, which generate a far greater rate of return for the institution.
I can easily see President Eisenhower giving a speech akin to his 1960 “Military-Industrial Complex” warning, only now warning of the “Academic-Government Complex”. Very similar dangers and bad outcomes from this flood of money.
There always is
When free money flows and professors are needed for the influx of kids who can't read - the bottom of the barrel gets hired. And what can these new professors with IQ's around a hundred 'teach'? Grievance studies... how to hate. How to value 'feelings' over facts...
I bet it doesn't sound good to those who actually PAID their school loans.
The SPICE must flow.
In most places, unless it is skilled manual trades, you cant even get an interview without the “College Degree” box checked.
Young folks are stuck between a built in system of “credentialled” folks as gate keepers vs piss poor schools offering nothing but a paper chase.
Not too long ago, diagramming sentences was grade school and Algebra was middle school. Now, many “studies” college grads can’t write nor perform anything higher than addition and subtraction.
Most teachers are low-performing babysitters with little skill themselves.
Things have to change.
Educating the youth? What’s that?
Indoctrination forever and ever. And get the victim- er- student (and sometimes the parents) to foot part of the bill, make up the difference in borrowed money.
Not all fetters and chains are forged of iron. But they are just as constrictive and place just as much limitation on freedom of action and conscience.
Lifetime indentured servants to whoever has the financial reins.
And here I thought it was the communist/socialist infiltration of institutions of ‘higher education’ and the government that had done it. Who knew?
If you’re willing to blindly sign on the dotted line for a tuition loan, the school has an incentive to keep raising that list price.
There is a RIDICULOUS amount of “free tuition money” available, if only prospective students will look for it. Yes, it takes some work and planning - just like saving money to pay cash when the time comes.
Want a substantial scholarship? Obvious criteria of race, gender, and income aside (for which there is plenty of option$), look for: unusual sports or musical instruments, religious/cultural affiliations, businesses with assistance benefits, assistantships, obscure/foreign colleges, etc. There’s online education available free/cheap to get advancement. Then there’s just working your butt off to get high grades.
My wife got her MBA for free + stipend, because she was foreign, female, and 4.0 GPA on prior degree.
My daughter just started middle school band; a big deal was made about certain instruments (french horn, tuba, oboe, etc) having a _very_ high likelihood of _very_ lucrative scholarships.
My second degree was cheap, as my employers paid most of it.
If you’re paying list price for anything, tuition included, you’re doing it wrong.
I’d not want to hire someone without the “college degree” box checked.
Yes, that isn’t sufficient - but it is necessary.
In an interview I don’t have time to evaluate all the topics I expect competence in. That checkbox assures high likelihood the candidate does have that knowledge. I’ve worked with non-degreed engineers, and while competent they did have gaping holes that would have been filled in a degree program.
That checkbox also assures that a candidate can take on a years-long project which requires satisfaction of a broad range of requirements to the approval of a large number of experts. Having been a college prof, I saw how many were filtered out by this process, unable or unwilling (!) to do the work.
Yes, many who graduate are not sufficiently competent (being a quasi-manager, I’m stunned by the lack of competency in candidates with Masters’ degrees) ... but if the degreed are that bad, how much worse those who couldn’t even manage to complete a degree in anything?
Here’s a copy of the Gender Studies page at CU Boulder:
Statement from the Department of Women and Gender Studies on Anti-Black Racism on Campus
The Department of Women & Gender Studies stands in solidarity with the Black Student Alliance and all students of color that continue to be affected by the repercussions of the racist hate speech that was directed at Black students studying at the Engineering Center on Sunday, October 6th, 2019.
We understand this act to be part of a larger social and systemic pattern of ‘white supremacy’ in the United States, in Colorado, and on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.
As a department and a discipline invested in the intersectional analysis of power, including its gendered and racialized dimensions, we recognize the pervasiveness of racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic hate speech to be indicative of a hostile and unsafe environment for Black students, students of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. As such, we support the specific demands of the Black Student Alliance, as detailed here: (click to enlarge)
And we wonder what’s wrong with college graduates?
“How An Unlimited Supply Of Borrowed Cash Is Destroying Higher Education”
Nail on the head!!
As an engineer with multiple degrees mechanical and chemical engineering I can state very clearly you can get a complete education online for free
Any engineer worth his salt can learn anything from a book doesnt need any professor
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