Thursday, September 3, 2009
Have you shit your pants yet today? No? Read this.
If you have a child about to enter college... or, if you are like me and have a child who is a few years away from starting kindergarten, I am sure that some of the figures in that Wall St. Journal article regarding the recent trends in college costs caused you to fill your trousers.
For those not in the know, it may be tempting to brush off the examples of catastrophic debt as just statistical outliers... a burden incurred to get a degree to do brain surgery on aliens or taxidermy on chupacabra.
Sure, some of these folks got law degrees over the course of seven years... but the chick with $181,000 in debt who is working as a clerk in a small law office? She went to the University of Pittsburgh. Not MIT, Harvard, Cornell, Oxford, or Cambridge... Pitt.
In a time when we lament the cost of essential services, such as health care, rising "faster than inflation," the amount of money loaned to students to acquire a degree is widely regarded as "absolutely necessary," if not a bare minimum... rose 25% in the last reporting year. Naturally, some of that increase can be viewed as being inversely proportionate to the downturn of the economy. College funds were decimated at the same rate as 401(k)s in the past 2 years, after all. The trend of skyrocketing tuition rates, however, extends well beyond the current financial downturn.
The WSJ article makes a valid point in attributing the increases in tuition to the availability and easily accessible funds that are offered to students to fund their education. While it makes sense that if a student couldn't just haphazardly borrow 30 grand a time, tuition would necessarily have to be scaled back to keep up enrollments. However, if the funding weren't available, it would take a period of time for that to have an effect on tuition, causing a vacuum of skills for a large swath of young people. Not to mention the fact that exclusivity is a prized commodity in some circles of academia. High tuition and low enrollment could be used as a marketing ploy to gin up competition for what is then perceived as the "best and brightest" young minds or some other horse shit such as that. The point of this is, even if you cut off the free flow of education dollars, you aren't going to see a year of college at any university you've heard of drop to 5 grand. What you would see, though, would be an explosion in the low-level, low-value educational services such as Eddie's Business Institute and Quik-Lube Shop and University of Blawnox Online.com.
To their credit, Republicans did introduce legislation a few years back to try to stem the growth of tuition. While that would have been welcome, it isn't really all that much help. If the cost of a Bentley rose by 10% each year, and for whatever reason, that rate slowed to 5%... would that make a Bentley any more affordable?
I have absolutely no idea what the solution to this problem is. Perhaps I should regard my $89,647 dollars of remaining student loan debt as a badge of honor or a mark of distinction... Sphere: Related Content