college debt

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by ndcaster, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. jman72

    jman72 Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm not going to reply to any single post, because there are several extolling the same (incorrect, I might add) sentiment of "these kids today are just too lazy to work and pay for school like I did". Well, the game these kids are playing ain't the same game you and I played and the world is not the same as it was in the '70s-'90s.

    When I started college in 1990 at a top state university, tuition was $25 per credit, which meant my semester tuition was $500. I could work a minimum wage job ($5 per hour) for 7 hrs per week during the semester and pay off my tuition. No big deal at all- I did that and more, and graduated debt free (with a BS in Chemical Engineering, by the way).

    Today, in-state tuition at that same school is now $225 per credit, nearly 10 times as much!! Working that same minimum wage job (now paying $7.25 per hour), I would have to work 42 hours per week during the semester just to pay for that tuition (not including food, housing, etc). See the problem- it's not just hard to do, it is impossible to do now without loans (and don't say you could still do it..if you say that you could work 40+ hours per week and still pull off a degree in chemical engineering, you never majored in chemical engineering)!

    And this is best-case scenario. Out-of-state tuition for that same university is now $625 per credit, which means you'd have to work 110 hours per week to pay your tuition. I teach at a private university now where tuition is $42,000 per year...a student would have to work 5800 hours (or nearly 3 years full time at minimum wage) to pay for this! So, to save up beforehand, you'd have to work for 12 years (and not spend a dime on anything else) to save for this if you wanted to not take out loans.

    My point..college was essentially free for me (and all of you over 40) compared to now, so please don't pat yourselves on the back too hard for an advantage we had (lucky us!!) and criticize kids for something they don't have control over. My college students are amazing kids, who honestly work harder than many of my friends back in college- they are anything but lazy. The deck is unfortunately stacked against them (I have three kids, including a high schooler whose work habits put mine to shame at the same age), and he's frankly terrified about the future and the prospects of deep student loan debt. And before you jump on me, I TOTALLY agree that college is not for everyone, and many of these kids getting into debt would be much better served in a trade. Believe me, me and my fellow professors spend a lot of time debating the ethics of putting 18 year old students (who don't really know any better) into $200K debt.

    And finally, contrary to popular belief, the VAST majority of these students are in STEM and other "real" degree programs (not Underwater Basketweaving). And sorry to burst your bubble everyone, but I know MANY unemployed (or underemployed ) scientists and engineers...I have a PhD in chemistry and was scared s***less about finding a good job, so STEM is not a sure thing.

    Sorry for the rant, but I just feel that may of you think things are the same as they were when you and I were young...they most certainly are NOT.
     
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  2. alathIN

    alathIN Tele-Holic

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    It's true that there is a correlation between undergraduate degrees and income, but the income of the home you grew up in is a stronger predictor. Ie, on average, higher socioeconomic kids have higher incomes and go to college.

    Analogy: owning two or more luxury cars is highly correlated with income. Therefore we need a government subsidized loan program to help low income kids buy luxury cars.

    Also, income is not the best measure to make this comparison. Better is wealth accumulation (see below).

    And don't give me any anecdotes about how much some random literature or performance art major makes; those don't count. WTF? Of course it counts. It all counts.

    Funny you should mention plumbers. A master plumber and owner of a plumbing company in my area became aware that there were not a lot of young people going in to his line of work. He's wondering where he's going to hire people from in the future. So he sets up a program where high school students can take plumbing apprenticeship as an elective. Figured out a curriculum, got it approved (with extreme difficulty) by the school board. In his program, these kids would come out of high school as apprentice plumbers with earnings not far off from undergraduate degree entry level income, with no debt. By the time the college kid graduates and starts paying off loans, the kid from this plumbing program is a journeyman and making real money. Can easily be a master plumber before age 35 and retire a millionaire at 55.
    Dude got this program all set up, and then couldn't get anyone to sign up for it.
    So he set up a program to bring foreign kids in. Now he is in effect running a plumbing school for Mexican high school kids, and he doesn't have any trouble whatsoever finding kids to sign up for it.

    Read the book "The Millionaire Next Door." It's taken from an econ PhD's dissertation.
    Instead of just overall wealth, they look at whether people's wealth status improves over their lives or doesn't.
    Interesting factoid: most common primary car for prosperous people? Ford F-150 pickup truck.
    There are lots of people with high incomes whose financial position actually worsens as they go forward. I know a lot of doctors in this boat.
    I'm not sure why you insist that plumbers don't count. This study found that in general, the kind of trades education that plumbers, electricians, etc get is a better financial investment in the long run and more likely to lead to long-term growing wealth.

    I don't think the book was including masters and up education. My guess is that advanced degrees are more likely tied to a profession and have a more direct effect on income.
    But undergraduate education is not necessarily a good investment; increasingly so as costs keep going up and universities are becoming more and more clever at extracting money from students. Setting up an overpriced convenience store where students can pay with their university ID, and it goes on their bill to be paid with student loans is one example. Giving your average 18 year old the equivalent of a high-limit credit card with no payments due for four years is in most cases not doing them a favor.

    Of course, there are people with no practical aptitude who aren't suited to be plumbers or electricians. It wouldn't be a good idea for them to become an apprentice electrician.

    Similarly, I don't think it's a good policy goal for everyone to go to college. And I don't think you're doing an 18 year old any favors by letting them go into big time life-altering debt to finance a degree in a non-renumerative field.
     
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  3. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting post! I actually agree with a lot of it. There are powerful social incentives discouraging some kids from becoming plumbers and so on. When I said "no plumbers" all I meant was that a story about an individual plumber that you know, and their earnings, isn't going to convince me that the overall trend of more college -> more earnings is wrong. In my own family, everyone except me is freaking out that my nephew has decided to become an electrician instead of going to college. Maybe I'll check out that book if I have some time.

    I totally agree that "college for everyone" is not a good goal for our education system, and it does a lot of kids a disservice and sets them up for trouble later on. And I also agree that universities do a terrible job of managing costs for students.
     
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  4. Bones

    Bones Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It doesn't matter, they chose to play the game in their time on their field with in the rules that existed. The costs were laid out for them, they signed the papers. They are responsible for their own debts. To your other point, it is absolutely unethical to encourage kids to sign up for this, there's no debate about it, but in the end, they are still responsible for their own actions.
     
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  5. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting to see some University Level Educators chime in here.



    Naturally, others know better and, as always, counter with their well-reasoned "so what, suck it up" retort.


    Ah, splendid debatin' y'all!! Let's lower that bar, how far can it go?
     
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  6. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Those durn Millennials!


    The idea of blaming these kids for taking on college debt is so strange to me. They are pushed from elementary school age that college is a necessity and parents/counselors guide them through the whole process. They’ve never made an impactful financial decision in their lives, the first one they make is 5-6 figures, they don’t have a job, and they’ve got a helpful grownup pushing them along. But wait, there’s more! We’ll criticize you 10 years down the road for being so irresponsible and listening to us if you regret anything.

    Yea, they took on the debt and have to pay it. There’s no debating that - the govt will eventually just garnish their paychecks if they don’t. That doesn’t make it ethically right and I think it’s a worthwhile thing to look at ways to make the system a little friendlier.
     
  7. d barham

    d barham Tele-Meister

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    I was blessed with a smart kid. At his school students work jobs on campus to pay their tuition. There are summer work programs that, if you can get into them, will pay for room and board. He has one of the few jobs on campus that allow him to actually make some extra money as he goes. My son is a Sophomore. So far the cost to me has been zero with no debt.
     
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  8. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Meister

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    I'm a college teacher. My first concern about this thread is the ignorant generational bashing. I find my students to be hardworking, inspiring people. Far more so than most of my peers when I was in college 25 years ago. Stop assuming the worst about people you don't know or spend time with. We feed all kinds of promises about life to our teens, and they are disappointed to learn that many simply aren't true. I think that is our fault more than it is theirs. They're young, they have a lot to learn, but they aren't any more dumb or spoiled than any other generation.

    The original issue here of college debt is a real problem. The overwhelming economic statistics in our country are clear: this generation needs a degree in order to have more income potential, more job security, more options, more mobility, etc. That doesn't mean that one kid CAN'T match that through other avenues, but the vast majority will not. Unless you are in a very focused field like engineering or accounting, the degree is less about a specific hard job skill and more about critical thinking, collaboration, communication, ability to finish what you start, ability to work in the short run towards long term goals, etc. Many employers see college as a type of finishing school, regardless of what the degree is in.

    Given those facts, income is not pacing with the cost of education. I've told my kids to live at home and go to a state school. Maybe do a year or two at a community college first. The idea of going away to college and living on campus is becoming a reality for wealthy kids or kids who are willing to incur massive debt, and it's not worth it. Every kid should get an education, but every kid should weigh their options carefully and not get sucked into some fantasy about "The College Experience".

    Carefully stepping down off my soap box...
     
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  9. rcole_sooner

    rcole_sooner Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    People need to quit getting loans they cannot afford.

    Same for homes, vehicles, whatever.

    Simple.
     
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  10. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Friend of Leo's

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    Smart! I wish I had done that. I'm the type of person who had no idea what they wanted to do as a career, got nudged towards college, dropped out, worked some really cool jobs and went back, worked some more and went back more. So now I get a lot of "you studied THAT in college?" from coworkers :D Jack of all trades, master of none.
     
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    A son of friends is now an exchange student in Switzerland, going to high school and improving his German language competency. His plan is to study engineering in Germany, where tuition is free (even for Canadians). I don't think he's going to swot four years of engineering study only to lounge around afterward as an unemployed university graduate -- that's what Art History is for!
     
  12. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    What's the monthly payment on a 38K student load?

    A colleague of my wife sent her daughter to Ireland to study medicine -- getting into med school in Canada is extremely hard. The cost was 100k. A year.
     
  13. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Study the educational systems of the many countries that offer free university education as an investment in their citizens. This is really only a big problem in the U.S.; I ask myself who really benefits most from the present $1.5 trillion student loan market.
     
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  14. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As I mentioned above, what surprises me is that some countries offer this to everyone, not just their citizens.
     
  15. tery

    tery Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Either Mom & Dad pay for it up front :D … or you make payments .
     
  16. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    College debt is just another loan bubble that will burst sooner or later. It's probably a good idea to figure out how to be on the profitable side of the bust.

    The thing to watch for would be a change in laws that allow borrowers to get out of this debt via bankruptcy or other means aside from fleeing the country. That's the only thing propping up the bubble, that the debt is lifelong. Lenders will fight tooth and nail to keep this in place but, eventually, the bubble will burst.
     
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  17. dswo

    dswo Tele-Meister

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    I agree that college is way more expensive than it needs to be, and that pushing everyone toward college was a mistake. Here are some things that haven't been mentioned yet:

    1. The money isn't going for better instruction. It's going to better facilities, more support services, middle management, and regulation compliance. It's easy to see the problem, hard to make the individual cuts. European schools, where tuition is lower, lack many of the niceties US students (and their parents) expect. It's the same in Japan.

    2. The real cost of athletic programs is often disguised by shifting it from the tuition bill to mandatory student fees. At the school where I teach, these fees are a large fraction of the total bill, and contribute to indebtedness.

    3. At my school, in-state tuition is low. Most of the annual expense comes from room and board. Some of that's under the university's control, and some of it is under students' control.

    4. One reason students of my generation (I'm 48) had lower tuition bills was that taxpayers subsidized a higher fraction of that bill than they do today. During the Great Recession most states cut per-student-spending on education, and haven't restored it. This has shifted more of the burden away from people like me, with no children, to parents and their offspring. That's great for me in the short term, but it makes younger people reluctant to have kids, and is probably one of several reasons our fertility rate in the US has dropped below replacement level. That's bad for me in the long term, because I'm counting on those still-unborn youngsters to pay into Social Security and Medicare, like I am doing now for my parents' generation.

    5. In my opinion, there's too much focus on majors. What will sustain you after your first job (or first career) is not your major, but your general education. That's where you acquire the big picture. That phrase sounds fuzzy, but it's that big picture view that enables you to improvise, adapt, do more than you're told. Unfortunately, many people talk about general education requirements as something to "get through" on the way to your real education, which they assume (mistakenly) to be courses in a major.

    6. An unstated assumption of some contributions to this thread is that higher salary = better life. I'm old enough not to discount the importance of money. I've observed, though, that what counts as "enough" varies widely; and I won't use money to measure the worth of someone's life, or even career.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  18. Boubou

    Boubou Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    University was relatively cheap when i was there, so were salaries though.
    Got out with a masters degree in 1983, had a government scholarship for my graduate studies.
    I am happy i took the path i did, it worked well for me.
    At work we had a guy from Thailand, he also had a scholarship from his country, but he had to repay it because he left the country, the deal was they pay for your studies, but then you have to work for a number of years in your country in your field.
    Thats a model that has some merit, make it easier on those that pursue a career in their field, making it an incentive to work hard and get a job.
    Same with our armed forces, they will pay for your university (college, whatever, its university here in Canada) but you have to work form them for a number of years after ( at least it was like that way back when).
    Life is hard. Young ones are not prepared for that.
     
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  19. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Here's a student loan payment calculator...the interest rate & term are the main factors:

    https://www.saving.org/student-debt/38000


    At 3% interest over ten years, $366.93 a month. That's a whole guitar every month!
     
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  20. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Holic

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    I'm 48 and love to pick on millennials as much as the next middle-aged guy, but the escalation of college tuition is a huge problem. The in-state tuition at the two large state universities I attended in the 90s has probably tripled since then and these are fairly low tuition bang-for-the-buck type schools. Guess what hasn't tripled or quadrupled since then? It's not "whining" to object to the insane escalation of tuition rates which are very real and quantifiable and are far out of line with income.

    Here's a chart that shows increase in tuition from 1978 compared to other metrics including the consumer price index.

    [​IMG]
     
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