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NYU Makes Tuition Free for All Medical Students (wsj.com)
931 points by mudil 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 507 comments

I'll probably be downvoted on a forum like this, but I worry about the most successful universities using their funds to subsidize those who would be fine without it. I was actually made aware of this by a wealthy Stanford alumni which has a fairly broad program for undergraduate tuition assistance. Graduates of mid/low tier universities seem more and more likely to have to compete with better credentialed people with lower debt.

Don't get me wrong, this is fantastic on an atomic level, and the levels of debt required to get an MD these days is insane (have a lot of family in the field). Also, it's not like this is a unique structural disadvantage, just a new one.

IDK. The same thought process led me to not being able to complete college due to financial reasons.

Despite being emancipated, FAFSA still considers you a dependent until you're 24. I was told that only with documentation of leaving an abusive household would a dependency exception grant be applied. So according to FAFSA I was supposed to use all this money that I didn't have to pay for college. By 24 I had dropped out and gotten a development job, now putting me outside of the income level where I'd get even federal loans (and quite frankly I still can't take on that debt load).

Just make college free. Trying to make all of these complicated rules to make sure that a few people aren't "getting one over us" is just making more cracks for people to fall into. If you're concerned that the rich are going to somehow use the system without paying, structure the backing tax so that they pay their fair share. No one cares that high school is free for the rich too. Everyone pays in, everyone can participate.

I think not being able to default on your student loans is the main factor in rising costs. There is no reason not to give out a student loan of any amount if it is guaranteed money. And there are many people who struggled to graduate highschool, or people who have no idea what they want to do in life in any way, that are getting crazy large loans to go to very expensive and demanding schools and and are very likely to drop out and have nothing substantial in return. They might only go for one year but then BAM, now they got near $30,000 in debt to pay with little to no job experience and no degree.

With students able to get loans of nearly any amount, the schools have no reason not to raise tuition prices, and that extra money ends up feeding a bunch of administrative bloat, a significant amount of which gets turned around into crazy marketing and advertising schemes to trick more fresh highschool graduates into taking out loans to pay for the crazy tuition. The first time in most of these people's lives where they are expected to take out a significant loan of money and are easily manipulated into potential financial traps. For many of them it is the first financial decision in their entire life and it rivals the cost of buying a house.

I think you're right, at the same time if allowed to walk from student loans... wouldn't we see a similar incentive on the student side?

I would find it pretty tempting when graduating to ... default. You've got plenty of time to fish your way out of bankruptcy as you're young, you don't have much for assets or anything...

That seems fine to me. Banks are in the business of calculating risk on loans, they can work out under what conditions they're willing to loan money to students who have little to lose by declaring bankruptcy.

If they basically shut down all student funding, that doesn't seem like a huge problem either - it's a fairly bad model and I think society would benefit for from the pressure to find a better way to educate people.

It's a difficult question, it would have a lot of unpredictable knock-on effects. But subjecting the industry to market pressures seems a move in the right direction.

  Banks [...] can work out under what conditions they're
  willing to loan money to students [...] If they 
  basically shut down all student funding, that doesn't
  seem like a huge problem either 
The problem arises if they decide "We'll only loan money with a wealthy co-signer" and that locks out working class kids from college and the class mobility opportunities education provides.

I considered that briefly, but honestly I disagree. Class mobility is a pleasant fiction we tell ourselves about, but the data suggest that it is nothing more. Since 1980, the prime time of our current every-goes-to-college education paradigm, social mobility has fallen off a cliff.[1] And frankly, it was never a major feature of society.

For deeper socioeconomic reasons, pretty much everyone in the truly lucrative fields like law and medicine is already quite well-off, and people who graduate from other degrees generally either end up in poorly-paying fields like academia, or else in careers that half a century ago didn't require tertiary education at all.

[1] http://jhr.uwpress.org/content/43/1/139.refs

Whilst absolutely a concern the cost of a college education is hugely inflated by the guaranteed loan money.

That would cause a crazy economic implosion in the education sector. Anything like that would need to be done very gradually or else there would be massive layoffs at every university all at once.

I agree but we must also realise the amount of struggle and suffering the current system causes to graduates.

In general it's a lot easier to see the flaws of a new proposal than take notice of the problems with the status quo.

So doing things really gradually also has a cost.

Short term the costs to those you describe as suffering will be significant too...such as no options.

The clear result of this would be parents that can afford to send their kids to college will send their kids to college by just paying for tuition. Interest rates will go up significantly, which makes the math on taking out a loan worse for anyone that doesn't need one. It would be a death spiral for loans.

I'm not convinced the politics of subsidizing education get better after that. There's a very high risk that a large and powerful swath of the country reacts to it with "I worked my ass off to pay for my kids to go to college, why should I subsidize yours?" The resulting increase in inequality is bad for society as a whole, but honestly it's a feature for most upper income parents.

It would probably put some pricing pressure on college, but the predictable knock-on effects are really really bad.

> I think not being able to default on your student loans is the main factor in rising costs. There is no reason not to give out a student loan of any amount if it is guaranteed money.

Just because the loans can't be discharged during bankruptcy proceedings doesn't mean the lender gets their money back. Default rates are high (and rising). The lender may get some money, but that doesn't mean they get their principal back, let alone a sufficient interest to justify giving out the loan in the first place.

The mechanism by which you default on a loan is bankruptcy. If you can't discharge a loan in bankruptcy, you can't default on it.

Some people never make enough money to pay it off, after which the government will pay the loan off after a few years. The lender gets payed anyway. These are risk free loans for lenders.

> The mechanism by which you default on a loan is bankruptcy. If you can't discharge a loan in bankruptcy, you can't default on it.

I think you may be confusing the terms 'default' and 'discharge', and have the ordering wrong.

You may be in default, which may lead to bankruptcy, which may lead to the debt being discharged.

Discharging the debt does not lead to defaulting on it.

This helpful Wikipedia paragraph should clear things up for you:


Note that 'default' is simply 'a debtor has passed the payment deadline on a debt they were due to pay'. 'Bankrupt' is 'a legal finding that imposes court supervision over the financial affairs of those who are insolvent or in default'.

See how 'bankrupt' is done to someone who is already either insolvent or in 'default'?

> The mechanism by which you default on a loan is bankruptcy. If you can't discharge a loan in bankruptcy, you can't default on it.

This is absolutely, completely, 100% wrong. Defaulting on a loan means that the borrower has failed to repay according to the agreed-upon terms.

> Some people never make enough money to pay it off, after which the government will pay the loan off after a few years. The lender gets payed anyway.

This isn't really true either. The lender is not guaranteed to be paid their principal back.

> These are risk free loans for lenders.

If these were truly risk-free, then the interest rate on private student loans would be roughly equal to the current actual risk-free rate of investment (because any new lender could always capture additional loans by undercutting their competitors and still make a profit).

Except, that's not true at all. The interest rate on private loans is quite high. In fact, it's significantly higher than the interest rate on mortgages, which are loans backed by collateral that can actually be seized.

The spread between them is very low, much lower than another kind of unsecured loan would be to young adults with no credit.

>The lender is not guaranteed to be paid their principal back.

This may apply for personal loans, where real money is given up; but, it's not really correct to call a bank, the originators of most private student loans, as far as I know, a 'lender'; as, banks don't lend their own money, but create new money through promissory notes.

> This may apply for personal loans, where real money is given up; but, it's not really correct to call a bank, the originators of most private student loans, as far as I know, a 'lender';

It is 100% correct to refer to a bank as a lender. This is standard use of terminology.

Do you have an official reference? I would believe that persons in the industry may use slang terms, but technically it would be incorrect to refer to a bank as a lender in most 'loans' they perform.

If you check the Promissory Notes, I'd guess they probably don't say "lender", except as possibly an alias for a definition that is not equivalent to the standard definition -- wherein, one forgoes actual physical property (cash, for example) for another's use; with the expectation that the property will be returned at some point (possibly with some form of payment to compensate for the real loss of property).

Edit: Do you think Wells Fargo has myriad $100k bundles just sitting around waiting for students to take? I don't think so. They use their power to create new money, rather than loan out the entire principal from their reserves.

I like the idea of withholding tuition from future earnings. That way we can get rid of all the "underwater basketweaving" courses that are so popular today, and focus on the ones that the economy actually needs (as in, is willing to pay top dollar for).

There's one "but" however: this does absolutely nothing to improve affordability, so some mechanism needs to be devised to reduce overhead costs, and put a cap on profits. I would prefer if that mechanism were market-based as well.

I very heartily disagree with letting the market decide education priorities, for two reasons.

First, education is chock full of positive externalities, which will never be realized correctly. While "the economy" doesn't need underwater basket weaving - or art history, or literature - society still does. Even if people don't work in their field, the world is better for the increase in knowledge. Man does not live on engineering alone.

Second, the invisible hand can only do its work in a world where the effects of decisions are predictable. Given the long lead time on a choice of major affecting your income - at least four years, arguably more if you factor in choice of AP classes on high school - that's never going to be the case. Say this system had been in place in the 90s, and say you're okay with underwater basket weaving students getting the short end of the stick because, well, they signed up for it. Fine. But what do you say to the computer science class of 2001?

"culture" may be good, but at what price? If the price for that degree were 10 million dollars, you wouldn't be insisting we get lots of those degrees. Everything has its price based on how much value it offers.

The problem with every economic system is information -- though that is far less of a problem in a capitalistic society with constitutional freedom of speech (capitalism helping to prevent the black box that forms around centralized economies like socialism, communism, or crony capitalism/fascism). This problem is on full display with those liberal arts degrees. Students leave high school knowing practically nothing about society or how money works (the fault of our education system removing most practical courses from the curriculum). What they have been taught from an early age though, is that getting a degree is the path to success. They hear about making X thousands of dollars more per year if they get one (without the nuance that a select few degrees making a lot more than average offset the entire liberal arts division) and they want to be successful so the go without any real-world knowledge to provide balance.

Instead of getting directed to a degree that will ensure their livelihood, they are told to "follow their heart" and "do what makes you happy". Unfortunately, the definition of a job is "something you wouldn't do for free" and people work jobs to get money to do the things they want so much they'll pay for them.

The simple fact is that most kids aren't cut out for college. They are much more suited for technical schools where they can learn the trades that keep the world turning (and they could leave making far more than a liberal arts degree with practically no debt). But they aren't told about that and instead wash out of the hardest degrees into meaningless degrees that offer a kind of debt slavery without any reward whatsoever. If they had gone to technical school, they could work less, make more, and spend that excess to culture themselves however they like.

>> society still does

That's just, like, your opinion, man. Society certainly does not need so many graduates in English Literature: there are only so many open positions at McDonalds, and they as a rule do not require a degree.

If there's market demand, society can pay real cash money for it. It used to be that most writers, painters, historians, etc, etc, had to also have an useful day job. _Albert Einstein_ had a day job up to a point. There's nothing wrong with that if the market can't support full-time work in a certain profession.

The second part of your argument I do agree with: there are a lot of details to flesh out. Maybe it will compel the colleges to teach broader sets of skills, since if they teach a narrow profession that's not useful they don't get paid.

> That's just, like, your opinion, man. Society certainly does not need so many graduates in English Literature: there are only so many open positions at McDonalds, and they as a rule do not require a degree.

This strikes me as a deeply sad view of the world. As an individual, a well-rounded education is a life-enriching thing, even if it doesn't directly tie into your professional career. As an overall society, having a more highly-educated populace is a net positive for everyone.

> It used to be that most writers, painters, historians, etc, etc, had to also have an useful day job.

And if you look even farther back in time, most artists were supported by a rich patron who believed in the value of art.

In Germany, college is free, but there are a smaller number of slots available for majors which are not in demand. Is this also a “sad view of the world”?

>> This strikes me as a deeply sad view of the world.

That's not a "view of the world", that's _objective reality_. There aren't enough jobs for those folks to take, so they end up at proverbial McDonalds. Those that do get jobs often don't get a wage that a degree that's in higher demand would command. That's the world that already exists, you can't will it away no matter how you finance people's education.

>> That's not a "view of the world", that's _objective reality_.

That's just, like, your opinion, man. Setting aside arguments as to the mere existence of "objective reality". You're essentially saying "the way I see it is the only way to see it", which does not help convince someone who sees it differently.

>If there's market demand, society can pay real cash money for it.

The point of my argument is that this is one of those cases where that's not going to happen, because we're talking about positive externalities. A generally educated populace, especially in the liberal arts (reading, critical thinking, political science, etc.) is a powerful but diffuse societal benefit in a way that doesn't really have a buyer.

What that likely means is that society needs to collectively come up with a powerful institution to serve as a patron of education and the arts. We could all pay in some token amount of money, and then experts could redistribute it in more globally-optimal ways. While we're at it, that institution could probably take care of a lot of other externality-related problems, like building roads and maintaining some sort of conflict-resolution system. And we should probably all get a say in how it runs. Hey, wait a minute, this sounds familiar...

English major here! I never got the McDonald's gig, but I am now helping the economy and keeping the world turning by making money as a useful software engineer. :)

I wouldn't use the stern-faced "useful" language, but I agree with you about it being perfectly fine to have a day job and pursue literary/artistic interests on the side. TS Eliot insisted on keeping his job as a bank clerk. Gladstone wrote serious history at night after discharging his duties as the English PM. Etc, etc.

Regarding choice of degree, the value of a liberal arts degree is difficult to argue for---and against. It's not like, say, math where you can do the proof or you can't. You can model the system such that transformations actually map onto transformations in the target domain or you can't. But I can often tell when someone has a (successful!) liberal arts degree by, to give one example, how careful they are with imprecise language. And, to give another, how light of a hold imprecise concepts have on them, how flexible and playful they are in such thinking (this has nothing to do with being unable to be "rigorous").

But also the fact is the system did not work for most people. Partly because most students just aren't suited for it...and that's fine. And especially with how broken college is now (for one, non-STEM subjects tend to allow the student to choose from a smorgasbord of unrelated courses instead of systematic growth over years). IMO far fewer people need to go to college, we should increase the funding and prestige of vocational school, and non-STEM subjects need to more regularly be taught again in a demanding way.

education is about more than the economy

This whole idea of taxing future earnings is like one step away from indentured servitude.

But you're in indentured servitude either way, except it's debt servitude, and there's no accountability on the part of the college for teaching you anything that's actually useful. Under the proposed setup, the college is directly incentivized for maximizing your earning potential. I like that a lot. Think of it as a tax that you'd pay in e.g. Germany anyway in order to get "free" education, except the amount you pay directly depends on the quality of education and people who chose to get vocational degrees don't have to pay for you. The whole thing entirely bypasses the government, so that's at least 30% savings right there.

> "I think not being able to default on your student loans is the main factor in rising costs."

The law responsible for this situation (the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act) was passed in 2005. Prices had already been rising for decades. I'm not saying it hasn't had an effect, but it can't possibly be the "main factor," because it literally didn't exist when prices started to rise.

In short, the free market has found a very lucrative cash cow for all involved. A select group of people are getting fabulously rich off this broken system, and since they control it there is no incentive to stop. Of course, someone is getting shafted. The students, in this case.

Definitely not a free market. If the government didn't guarantee student loans, the banks would have been a lot more conservative in giving out loans. In fact, this is easily the biggest factor in the rapid rise in tuition.

The biggest factor in the rise in tuition is easily austerity policies lowering in-state school budgets.

As the government applies ever greater amounts of money to pay for tuition, tuition rises. That's simple economics. You can read about the facts here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/prestoncooper2/2017/02/22/how-u...

Yes, don't fund students, fund schools. The government shouldn't pay tuition bills, it should ban tuition for schools receiving public funding.

Though I question why an AEI schill should be considered a credible source on anything.

The parent posts detail the ways the government has distorted the free market, and your takeaway was that this is the free market's fault...? So was the '06 housing bubble was the free market's fault as well?

Quite so. It was the "free market" that gave out those loans, it was the "free market" that repackaged the CDOs knowing full well the repercussions in case of defaults, it was the "free market" that stacked rating agencies, regulators, courts, even academia, to prevent their cash cow from going away, or from suffering any kind of personal responsibility for their crimes.

I think you missed your opportunity to learn something because the parent post was being too subtle.

Both student loans and the housing loans leading to the crisis are blinding examples of the government interfering with the risk assessment process of large loans resulting in a failure.

Students get loans they can't realistically payback because the issuers know they are (mostly) safe from bankruptcy.

In the early 2000s the 'gift' of the affordable housing bill was to issue a bunch of mortgages to people who realistically couldn't pay them back either. Leverage against loans by the banks made it systemic, but the root cause of the housing crash was trash loans that would never have been issued if it weren't for the government offering guarantees.

In both cases the government was even less "free" than the market. Interested parties distort laws and regulations to their own benefit.

You are confusing a free market with a government controlled market.

College is expensive because so much money is available in the forms of subsidies and loans. If the federal government stopped guaranteeing loans, and cut back on other subsidies, the cost of college would be much much lower.

This seems to be a pattern in America.

People call for X to be more affordable > government subsidizes X > X absorbs all subsidies and becomes even more expensive > people call for X to be socialized.

Maybe instead we should start to unwind student financing. For example: let students discharge student loans via bankruptcy. That would give financiers pause and would put an upper bound on what many universities could charge.

> let students discharge student loans via bankruptcy

This is a fine idea, but you have to recognize that this just means approximately no one gets student loans (and those who do get them don't need them). Think about it: if you come out of college with, say, $20k of debt (granting that this might bring down prices) and no assets, bankruptcy is a very tempting option. Student loans are just inherently problematic - the people who need them have no assets, and the thing they pay for can't be used to secure the loan.

Sure, prices would come down, but partially because so many people would be priced out and demand would drop. The solution has to involve more than that.

A potential solution is HECS here in Australia for university.

It's a government loan that anyone who goes to a HELP approved course can obtain (nearly all proper university courses) and it gets taxed out of your future earnings, and is indexed at (almost) CPI (e.g. this year it was indexed at 2%).

There is still argument here on whether it should be free (University used to be free in Australia) or a higher rate of repayment (the government tried to index it at the bond rate which would make it an indefinite tax on a high proportion of those with HECS debts...) but it does work in the sense that it doesn't drive anyone into the ground and allows anyone with high enough marks to go to uni without worrying about course fees - and it still will eventually be repaid.

Can someone with better knowledge on these areas than I tell me why a loan system like HECS would or wouldn't work in the US?

> This is a fine idea, but you have to recognize that this just means approximately no one gets student loans (and those who do get them don't need them).

The vast majority of student loan loans are issued by the federal government since private lenders are cut out of the federally-guaranteed Stafford loan program, so changing rules on discharge won't meaningfully effect loan issuance without some other federal policy change.

> Think about it: if you come out of college with, say, $20k of debt (granting that this might bring down prices) and no assets, bankruptcy is a very tempting option.

So make them hard, as they are now, to discharge for some period of years after they would regularly first enter repayment, and then subject to discharge like normal unsecured debt.

Or, just eliminate the federal student loan program and special bankruptcy treatment of student loans in favor of robust federal need-based and public-service-based grants.

> The vast majority of student loan loans are issued by the federal government since private lenders are cut out of the federally-guaranteed Stafford loan program, so changing rules on discharge won't meaningfully effect loan issuance without some other federal policy change.

This is a good point - I think of Stafford loans as inextricably tied to the no-discharge terms, but that's probably not the case. Perhaps cutting out the no-discharge terms would just be a backdoor to government-provided university-level education.

Bull. Student loans did not become non-dischargeable until the mid-2000’s; and before that plenty of people got loans and there was no epidemic of graduates immediately declaring bankruptcy. You’re spouting propaganda talking points from predatory lenders.

There actually was. Particularly with doctors and lawyers.

Among regular students, not as much, but discharging hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for a few years of bad credit when you're making hundreds of thousands of dollars is a great deal. It was a rational decision to make.

> Think about it: if you come out of college with, say, $20k of debt (granting that this might bring down prices) and no assets, bankruptcy is a very tempting option.

You actually have to convince a judge that's appropriate. And the court has a wide variety of tools at it's disposal to reach an equitable decision. From telling the petitioner to get stuffed all the way to telling the creditors to get stuffed.

Can you cite a case of this happening? As far as I can tell, chapter 7 cases are only ever denied for failing to file properly (missing deadlines, failure to disclose, etc), or kicked over to chapter 13 (which would be pretty remarkable in a case involving the little to no income of most students).

If we were being reasonable about student loan debt Chapter 13 or 11 would be more appropriate than Chapter 7. Both of those allow for debt service to be renegotiated.

Student loan debt is a particularly odious bit of neoliberal policy, forcing students to take on debt for something other societies provide for free, non dischargable and guaranteed by the state.

In Europe when the government subsidies things, they usually also put a cap on what the organisation is allowed to charge. See for example universities and trains in the UK.

> people call for X to be socialized

Alas it never gets to the final step: X is socialized.

> People call for X to be more affordable > government subsidizes X > X absorbs all subsidies and becomes even more expensive > people call for X to be socialized.

The problem is that government subsidizes loans. It doesn't do something like capped match. The government should just say, "We will cover your need-based education burden up to $20,000".

Something like this would make most state schools accessible to most kids and yet, put a big limitation on how much schools can raise tuition. Some schools will raise it up to 40k, others will keep it at 20k, both will try to maximize intake for their tuition.

Simply handing out unbounded, undischargeable loans is just crazy!

This sounds like government should pay people subsidiaries directly. Like an HSA but for more than just health. If you use the account for school it's tax free otherwise there are fee or the transaction is declined. How much more amazing would service from utilities be if they had to go through customer to get the same subsidiaries they get now.

I have taken an education loan from a bank in another country. They literally only approved me for a maximum of $30,000 loan. Let me explain how that worked.

I had to pay first 15% from my account, they would pay the remaining 85%. Every semester, once I showed a receipt that I paid 15% to the university, that bank would wire the remaining 85% directly to that University.

What did this do to my decision making? I literally only chose universities for which I could afford the upfront 15% and the max of $30k. I chose this university even though I had admit from other universities which had higher tuition.

What impact does it have on universities? Universities with higher tuition start seeing a decline in enrollments. I got out with a max $30k debt, of which I paid 15% out of pocket already, per semester.

I could've dropped out of school and joined again a few years later but that loan would still be available to me for 7 years.

Or, we could try just doing none of that, like back when college was actually affordable!


Woah there... govt subsidizes what? This isn't about subsidies (except for loan guarantees), it's about unsecured credit and debt that can't be discharged in bankruptcy. That (like credit card spending, 8 year car loans, and payday lending) is a recipe for rising prices and high eventual bankruptcy rstes, but it's not govt subsidy. It is regulatory capture.

The government backing a huge portion of the loans and creating special treatment for the loans are both, ya know, subsidies. They are slightly indirect.

Yes, that is why I called out loan guarantees. Regulatory capture (special treatment) on the other hand, is not subsidy any more than granting a patent/trademark is a subsidy... it's regulatory capture (the opposite of effective regulation). Corporations don't get to blame the govt for the rules that industry paid for... see what you made me do!

To bring down cost you don’t bring down the subsidies, but you let the government negotiate price limits on subsidized goods and services.

This is how health care and college subsidies work in my country. The government negotiates with the universities and medical industry what the price and the subsidy level will be. Schools and health care can opt out of the subsidy scheme and shrink their market to the rich or opt in and have lower margins with higher quantities. Most choose to opt in, even the top tier.

The trick is using the negotiating power of government, which is something U.S. politicians are unwilling to do.

== That would give financiers pause and would put an upper bound on what many universities could charge.==

It would also limit the pool of people who could get a loan for college in the first place. Maybe we can take a page from other developed countries who don't seem to have the same problem.

It seems to be a pattern in America where we act like a problem has no answers, meanwhile the rest of the world contains many potential solutions to the problem.

Remember when college used to be cheap enough for people to afford working summers? I don't remember because that was before my time, but that was also before the subsidies and loans were made available by the feds. Turns out, if you dump money into an industry while increasing demand and not changing supply, prices will increase.

That was because states covered most of the budget. Austerity policies changed that. And supply and demand is not applicable to macroeconomics, which education is part of.

States still cover most of the budget. As someone who went to school while poor and on a scholarship, I hated this, the price was so inflated because

1) The government pays the majority of it if you're poor, schools know you'll pay 2) If you're middle class your parents pay half of it, the government pays half of it, schools know they'll pay 3) If you're upper class, you might have a legacy admission and the school knows your parents will pay and probably donate to the school too

There's a difference between the government funding education and the government funding students. Costs are high because the government funds students (sometimes), not education.

And very few people get government scholarships, most get loans which must be repayed: essentially an extra tax on the middle class.

Government funds most public universities to an absurd degree. Tuition is a drop in the bucket for most schools. Government loans are an extra tax on everyone, and are best seen as a money transfer from all taxpayers to public institutions.

Government loans aren't a tax on those who don't need them, who are the very people who should be taxed the most.

And states only fund roughly half of school's out of their budgets and that number has decreased in recent years.

> And very few people get government scholarships,

Untrue. Lots of people get Pell Grants, but the value of each is very small.

Grants and scholarships are different, FWIW. Pell grants can be an extreme amount of money depending on your income bracket, but given the prior knowledge that people at each income bracket will make up the difference in amount (for a service like education), it can be seen as increasing school prices by the highest paid amount.

Yes I suppose you're technically correct. But government grants hardly pay for poor people's education, especially considering they trap them in the cycle of being unable to pay for books and food without earning too much to lose the grant.

I'm not following your comment, Federal student loans started in 1958 [1] but costs didn't start to skyrocket until the late-80s/90s. Since the late-80s costs have more than tripled at public universities after adjusting for inflation from about $3,000 to almost $10,000 [2].

==dump money into an industry while increasing demand==

Did the money create the demand or are you saying they dumped the money while also creating demand?

==not changing supply==

Do public universities have the same number of available seats as they did in 1958? 1980? 2000?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_loans_in_the_United_St...

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/how-much-college-tuition-has...

> For example: let students discharge student loans via bankruptcy.

Ataturk's reply to this is dead below but I must agree with the (spirit of the) comment. While I support letting students discharge loans via bankruptcy, I VEHEMENTLY oppose making this applicable to loans already signed. This is absolutely ridiculous and anyone who supports this kind of position should be barred from public office on grounds of insanity.

EDIT: I also think income and means testing ought for any government program or service ought to be illegal. You cannot say "you must make below $n to be eligible for this government program". I know the economists in the audience will bellow and bicker and say that we have limited resources that we must allocate "logically" but guess what macroeconomics is nonsense anyway because out here in the real world people don't behave logically. We need to make it against the law to use income, means, or property testing for any government program or service. Can't afford to offer it to the entire population regardless of income? Either increase taxes or rollback the program. Can't have it both ways.

I'd say that a politician who stares at a problem head on and refuses to deal with it, because we didn't deal with it in the past, is the insane one.

Student loans have become incredibly predatory and the banks were the ones who had the information to realise these were bad loans, but they lobbied the government to make it so they had to do no due diligence. Now they've fucked up and unless something is done about the loans they are all going to start defaulting anyway.

The default rate is already growing[1]. Based on the number of people I know who are making minimum payments and waiting 20 years for the loans to be forgiven based on income levels, I expect a large portion of expected revenue on these loans is going to evaporate starting after 2028 when everyone who got bad terms and a shit job after the great recession start to become eligible.

It's already a house of cards and we should just deal with it instead of tying large portions of the population to these bad deals


> It's already a house of cards and we should just deal with it instead of tying large portions of the population to these bad deals

I guess the taxpayer is kind of screwed when it comes to Federal loans. I still think it is a bad idea to retroactively change laws even if the idea seems popular. As far as I understand, an individual's loan obligations don't automatically transfer to their surviving family members so if you have a massive student loan it will die with you.

If the loans were predatory, lets ban them going forward. If we find illegal activity and predatory behavior I am all for prosecuting bankers and throwing people in prison. In fact, I will go further and say we should rid of all the silliness of deductions and credits in income tax toward education loans as well.

New York made a good first step with its excelsior program. While I don't like the income ceiling for the program, I think overall this is the way forward. I think we should expand the program to allow people to go to school part time for free. Private schools can either compete with free public education or shut down.

> I'd say that a politician who stares at a problem head on and refuses to deal with it, because we didn't deal with it in the past, is the insane one.

I am all for dealing with the problem but I still firmly and politely OPPOSE any effort to make it easier to discharge existing loans with taxpayer money. I am not an expert on this matter though so I don't know much about it. All I know is we cannot give a handout to people who went to college by signing a loan letter and pay for it with resources that could have gone to people who didn't go to college.

I think the first good step is to make private education loans go away the same way as any other private loan going forward. I don't know how we can apply this to direct federal loans.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-is-federally-gu... According to this web page:

> As of June 30, 2010, Congress stopped the guaranteed student loan program for newly issued loans.

> If a borrower defaults on a guaranteed loan, the federal government pays the bank and takes over the loan. The federal government pays approximately 97% of the principal balance to the lender. At that point the federal government owns the loan and the right to collect payments on the loan.

Yeah, no. If you have a guaranteed loan (which apparently you can't get anymore), I say you are on the hook for it for life especially if you start making money later.

Ah I thought you were treating private and federal loans as the same. I'm with you on private loans being treated as regular loans, let them go away in bankruptcy.

For federal loans, the position the US is in with them needs to be unwound. It's not even a choice at this point, it's worse than how inflated the housing crisis happened and if we don't deal with it on our own, it's going to just show up as a surprise.

That's not to say we need to wipe the slate clean at once. We could just do a 10% or 5% haircut on all loans every year and treat it the same way as an entitlement. We will need to fund it of course, and it will not be painless, but that's the position the countries gotten itself into.

Not doing something to cut down the massive amount of debt that is already dealing with large amounts of defaults is just be willfully ignorant of the risks.

>Yeah, no. If you have a guaranteed loan (which apparently you can't get anymore), I say you are on the hook for it for life especially if you start making money later.

The only things we saddle people with life for are prison sentences for murder and rape. Student loan debt shouldn't be at that level of seriousness. Think about it. If you had a debt from the government that followed you _forever_, why even be part of the system anymore? You are incentivized to either not work, or work and hide every bit of income. If you don't give people a path out of an issue, they aren't going to play by the rules anymore

> The only things we saddle people with life for are prison sentences for murder and rape.

I said that because I assumed the government can afford to suspend payments if your income goes below a certain level. I doubt an ordinary person has the ability to work and hide every bit of income. The good people at IRS work hard and those (bastards over at) state departments of revenue work even harder.

In practice, you're right. The taxpayer has to eat the cost. And I am sure how things will eventually happen when things eventually need to happen. Politicians hate saying no to their voters. The Republican nominee for POTUS in 2012 was at a debate or a town hall before the election and I remember him going on a rant about simplifying the tax code to a round of applause. One woman got up and asked what about credits and deductions with contributions toward their child's college fund and the nominee didn't have the strength to say he wants them to go away. Guess what if we want to simplify the tax code, we have to get rid of credits and deductions. If you can't say that to people who just applauded to you saying simplify the tax code, it will never happen. No politician wants to do that because that will destroy their career.

This is just what I think. I have no realistic way of influencing public policy. (:

Wait, you are suggesting that medicaid, food stamps and low-income housing assistance should be offered to everybody? I don't think I have heard this suggested before. I'll have to ponder this.

> Wait, you are suggesting that medicaid, food stamps and low-income housing assistance should be offered to everybody?

Yes. None of these programs should exist if we can't offer them to 100% of the population. Both Democrats and Republicans use these programs as a vote bank and it polarizes our public discourse.

Means testing is basically a compromise between the two extremes that you offer: fund them completely (by raising taxes) or drop them completely (because they're too expensive). That's the best you're going to get in a system where lots of people with vastly differing views have to agree on a single conclusion: a compromise that makes everyone a little bit unhappy.

And of course schools need 2 or 3 administrators per faculty member, earning more than faculty "because they are more important" naturally.

Don't forget the gymnasiums, stadiums, aquatic centers and all the other high-priced facilities that schools have constructed to compete for those easy-to-get student dollars. Because who can learn in an environment without swimming pools?

For the most part, those types of facilities are paid for out of athletic department funds and donations.

yes the sorts of facilities that universities build for athletics are extravagant and many would say ridiculous, but they really don't have a bearing on the cost of tuition.

> For the most part, those types of facilities are paid for out of athletic department funds and donations.

Just 23 of 228 (NCAA DIV 1 2013) athletic departments were profitable for their schools.


You often do because the cost of administering financial aid and loan programs is much more than if the government simply funded education. The same applies to healthcare: you need dozens of administrators because you have dozens of insurers to deal with. Simplify the system so all costs are paid for by the state and your costs go down.

That's backwards. College is expensive because demand is extremely high. Subsidies increase that demand by making college affordable for most, but the suggestion that the subsidies themselves are the problem is plain wrong. We wanted an educated workforce, we've got one. We can say we don't want one, but to blame our efforts to educate people as the problem with education is not productive. We either educate people or we don't. We increased demand on purpose (and we should have!). Of course prices are going to go up! Normally supply would expand to keep up, but something is rotten in education. Teachers get paid a pittance, there were several high profile accreditation frauds, and the natural inclination towards prestige as worth more than the actual diploma combine to seriously limit our ability to expand and mitigate prices.

As the supply of available money increases, there is no incentive not to increase tuition. Any system that is flooded with money experiences price inflation.

Because students are not able to discharge their debt in bankruptcy, they constitute a riskless loan opportunity to the lenders, who throw money at them.

A sad side-effect of this as that the price inflation that this causes is forcing more and more students who might have otherwise been able to finance their tuition without loans, into needing loans also, thus dooming more and more of the next generation into huge debts that will effect their ability to buy houses, start families, and save for retirement.

Considering the millions of people struggling to pay for college and desperate for lower tuition, this is totally untrue. This is like saying, "if we didn't have food stamps, food would be half the cost."

Actually providing an "unlimited" stream of capital, does cause inflation. That's global fact: e.g. New Zealand real estate has started becoming unaffordable [google -- it was in the news these days] due to U.S. and other millionaires pouring in cash.

I am not going to make the analysis for food stamps. Maybe some stores would have lower prices, no idea, as I don't know the model of issuing food stamps.

Think it like this: Alice comes to your store and says I am going to pay 50% of whatever Bob buys. Bob has spending power x. Now Bob, suddenly can buy 2x. However, Bob can buy that many stereos costing x (wlog) and is probably going to just spend x/2 and let Alice pay the other x/2.

Or you can say, well I am the only store in town selling stereos, so now stereos cost 2x, as I know you can afford them. Bob, as he has to buy the stereo, is going to pay x and the store owner is going to pocket an extra x, as it is a monopoly (or oligopoly) and thus can keep the prices high.

So, if you substitute Bob with an average student and Alice with the government, you will see that the student kept paying the same (at best -- you have to account for market pressures here, general currency inflation etc which cause more inflation) and the government has to keep paying now (or you know break the oligopoly; set different rules).

Food stamps have a limited value.

If we provided people with unlimited special accounts only good to buy food (with money, not food stamps), this would definitely affect prices in groceries.

That's reductive. Food and education are very different industries, and the scale of subsidies to individuals is HUGE in education compared to food stamps.

Plus, the nature of the subsidy is important. State-sponsored universities don't seem any more culpable than private ones in this mess.

I think the reverse of what he said was true: that tuition has risen artificially because of all the free money. But yeah I'm also skeptical that tuition would decrease even close to the same way if the money were removed. I think they'd cut supply before they cut price. Especially with the all too common "but you need a degree" fallacy

Let's ballpark things.

Assuming 1 teacher making 100k teaching 20 students * 5 classes * 3 credit hour classes a semester ~= 333$ / credit hour. 128 credit hour degree ~= 43k over 4 years. And that's assuming relatively small average class size and ignoring adjuncts etc.

Yet, many schools are charging 4-10 times that much. The question becomes what are the 3+ other people doing if not teaching and can you get rid of that?

PS: And sure some professors make well over 100k and facilities are not free, but again many people even at expensive schools are pulling in less than that.

> Assuming 1 teacher making 100k

Assume a PhD student making a $35k stipend or a foreign grad student making $14/hr.

This covers a good 25%-40% of the curriculum, depending on the institution.

No, College is expensive because it's horribly inefficient. Professors are paid terribly.

Professors aren't paid terribly -- adjuncts, lecturers, and teaching assistants typically are. That's because there are far more people jockeying for teaching positions than there are positions available.

But saying college is expensive because it's inefficient begs the question: why is it inefficient? I'm inclined to think that the amount of federal money available is, at least, a factor...

That's because there are far more people jockeying for teaching positions than there are positions available.

Imagine what they could be doing if more people were going to college.

Administrators and swanky campuses are expensive.

College is inefficient because instead of just paying out of the taxpayers, we created a roundabout system of loans and banking that serves no one except shareholders.

Inefficiency is only enabled by the pure quantity of money flowing into the system.

That would mean they're getting increasingly inefficient, significantly so? Given how much costs have increased.

Certainly factors into the cost, but seems unlikely it's the key factor in the rising costs.

Why would it be unlikely?

> Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

> By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

> Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.


There shouldn't be a debate on why higher education is expensive, it was answered in a 1973 paper that won a 2001 Nobel prize:


tl;dr: In markets where the cost of education is less than the increase in wages, the real cost of education isn't the fee, it's the relative effort of passing it.

I agree.

Yes, it will cost a lot and yes we need to find a way to fund it, but giving all communities fair access to education is in everyone's best interest.

Increasing the base level of education makes everyone a more intelligent, informed citizen and voter, and will have a positive impact on the progression of our country. I think it's a bad idea to be penny pinching in this regard. I also think everyone being educated, and learning how to think for themselves (which I find is the key greatest value of getting higher education) will keep the people in power from herding everyone around like sheep, and will lead to more progress and innovation.

I will gladly pay a higher portion of my salary if it means the general populous can think for themselves, has a means to climb if they wish to, and the base level of education of the people in my country increases.

I agree with a lot of your points, but the way to increasing the base level of education isn’t through making all colleges free — it’s through investing in and making community colleges free.

Why? If we’re trying educate the entire populace instead of a few high achieving high schoolers, we should recognize that a majority of people can’t afford to up-end their lives, move far away, and spend 4 years getting a degree.

Community colleges, emphasis on the community term, would allow for people — local people — to educate themselves without drastically affecting their livelihoods. In this way, community colleges can also potentially act as job retraining facilities.

Note that I am slightly biased as a Californian.

This is fair. I'm saying all higher education, so if upending your life doesn't work for you, you could choose a local school or community college.

Also the regular admissions system would be in place, so higher achievers would still exclusively get into more prestigious schools, it's just that money won't be a factor.

While this is in the broader scope but after five years of graduation, the college you attended is irrelevant. The prestigious name is meaningless.

Personally from experience, the prestige comes with network and the network is where it's at. The connections you have definitely grease the upward escalator.

Most people who go to college don't upend their life. By the numbers ~60% of students go to schools 100 miles or less from home. Obviously the numbers are far different for graduate school but I think the point still stands that subsidizing all college doesn't suddenly require people to move to the other side of the country.

There's also a big difference between classes at a local community college and a university. Some community colleges are quite good, and you can always try to transfer to a 4 year university before graduation. However, it would be incredibly dishonest to pretend that the quality of education between the two is the same or that employers view a degree from a community college the same.

For instance both MD and PA have notoriously few and poor community colleges. But both states have an abundance of very good colleges. Free tuition for all would mean more people could attend those schools as opposed to being forced to attend a poor CC just because that's all they can afford.

Can you elaborate on the Californian bias with regard to community colleges? Is the California community college system better/worse than other states?

I’m a native Californian that went straight to a 4 year, but I sometimes think about how much cheaper college would have been if I had gone to community first.

Went to CC in California. Paid ridiculously little. All classes transferred, started with killer foundations at a fraction of the cost. Transferred to UC. Been employed 8 years. Nobody's ever asked where the first 2 years of college were from. Not even for my first job.

I don't know why more people don't go that route. It's like $26 dollars a unit, the books cost more than the classes do. The professors were dope as hell - especially in the hard sciences. Plus you didn't have a lecture hall with 150, 200 kids in it - you had 30, 50 for a "big" class. The instructors always showed up to office hours, they all spoke great English, and actually cared if you understood the material - they weren't ditching class to prepare for a conference, or having a TA do the actual teaching. They genuinely liked their subjects.

Going to CC is practically a secret weapon. I'd hire a CC graduate over a "bootcamp" graduate any day of the week.

I believe the California community college system is better than most states. Let me elaborate.

In the summer before my freshman year, I didn't really have much to do, and so I decided to take up a course. My options were to either take it at the UC where I'd attend, or to take an equivalent offering at a local CC. When I looked at the price, there was a 10-fold difference, $2000 against $200.

It was a no brainer to enroll at the CC: transferring credits was easy because the UC system and the CC system already have an agreement [1]. This is in addition to the transfer agreement between the two institutions, where CC students are guaranteed admission to some of the UCs if they fulfill the requirements [2].

Before the first day, I recall having low expectations; I had bought into the mindset that a smaller tuition meant a shabbier campus and a worse experience. I was dreadfully wrong: the place was modern, and my class size numbered around 15 people.

More over, its population was diverse. I didn't see only college students; there were middle schoolers, high schoolers, international students, and even parents dragging their children to camps. In general, the place had people serious enough about their education that they would spend a nice summer doing so.

Here, it seemed was a greater emphasis on the community side of college. I want to mention that this is in contrast to what I've previous seen. I came from a high school which didn't focus on getting people ahead, but on only keeping them from following behind; that was the primarily the idea of summer school. I've also heard of high school students paying for private SAT/ACT tutoring, and for online AP courses. In hindsight, CCCs act as equalizers in the field of education -- I would even say they are the modern day equivalent of churches in our state.

[1] http://www.assist.org/web-assist/welcome.html

[2] http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/transfer/guarant...

> Why? If we’re trying educate the entire populace instead of a few high achieving high schoolers, we should recognize that a majority of people can’t afford to up-end their lives, move far away, and spend 4 years getting a degree.

On the other hand, consider a state like Maine, which has under 1.5 million people and a bunch of good state universities for a variety of disciplines that a community college isn't equipped to teach. You don't have to move that far away (I moved two and a half hours away from where I grew up, and tbh I wish it had been further) and when you're leaving high school it's probably more common than not that your life isn't really settled enough to upend.

(I think making community colleges free, too, is a very good idea.)

More people should read, “The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money”

People take it a priori that more education is always good — when there’s a lot of evidence that the vast majority of higher education (in both time and dollars spent) is wasted.

Free but not compulsory, right? You don't need higher education for a lot of jobs and many people do not wish to attend college. I also think it's wrong to imply that people who haven't attended higher education can't "think for themselves". My 2 cents.

100% agree, and not the point i'm making.

I'm saying it will increase the average level of individual thinking, but not saying that it's a requirement. I'm simply saying those people that forgo schooling because it's not economically feasible for them, will have the ability to do so and thus one large factor in keeping people down is eliminated.

The problem I have with free college is that college, while expensive now, is already nearly compulsory for a lot of jobs that don't require it. A degree in any irrelevant thing is used as an arbitrary deciding factor. Free college will make for compulsory college as everyone will need a degree to have a chance. Then we actually lose value from the opportunity cost of people not working.

Disclaimers: obviously, yes, I think education is great in general. And I actually don't mind social education. I just think it's easier to get this wrong than right.

Well, the problem with making it free is that you're making it compulsory for others to pay for it.

Except colleges won't make people more intelligent. For the most part, it won't even make people more informed. For many people (especially the incremental people that would go to college if it were free), college is an extended 4-year vacation, during which they immediately forget everything they learned, because they never need to use it on the job.

> I will gladly pay a higher portion of my salary if it means the general populous can think for themselves, has a means to climb if they wish to, and the base level of education of the people in my country increases.

No one is stopping you from doing so. Donate some money to local youth or a scholarship fund.

However, it seems like you want to force everyone else to pay a higher portion of their salary to this cause.

would not increasing the base level of education decrease the chance of the currently ruling party staying in power? does not seem like a wise course of action (edit: for them).

>FAFSA still considers you a dependent until you're 24

You can certainly "game" the system still. One could easy join the military, from there you'd get out around that age, they you'd be independent and you'd still have a GI bill to pay for most of it.

Or like me, I went to a tech school for aviation maintenance, graduated in 1 year, started working full time at age of 20. But by 21, I knew this wasn't the right field for me (too low pay for the amount of work required). I saved my money, quit when I was 24 and enrolled in a 4 year uni for CS full time with only $5k in my bank account.

I lived with my grandparents that were about 40 miles from the uni. The $5k got me through one year just fine since I didn't have to pay for rent or food. For the second year, I went back into the aviation field as a contractor making $22 an hour. After 6 months I had $10k in the bank. I then started my second year of college but to my surprise, since I hadn't filed with the IRS the past year and claimed an income of $0 in the previous year, I then qualified for about $6k in pell grants. So with $10k and pell grants, I went to college full time for another 4 years and graduated debt free (yes, it took me 5 years to graduate, perhaps I'm a little slow..). Actually not totally debt free, I still pay $50 a month for my tech school degree loan from 15 years ago...

>Despite being emancipated, FAFSA still considers you a dependent until you're 24.

It's ridiculous.

Parents divorced and one parent is an asshole? All they need to do is refuse to hand over their tax returns.

Parent remarried? FAFSA wants to see the tax returns of the step-parent and takes THEIR income into account, even if the marriage only occurred the previous year.

Needing parental tax returns is a ridiculous thing for an adult.

Actually in a divorce scenario, FAFSA only requires information about the custodial parent’s household (so if you’re independent you can effectively choose which one). But yes, doesn’t change the fact that the whole concept is dumb. If they’re using tax returns to determine ability to pay, they should also follow the IRS’s rules on dependency.

> Just make college free.

Sure, have some funding ideas?

Raise the income tax, create a VAT, kill the mortgage-interest tax deduction, add a Financial transaction tax, tax capital gains like normal income, stop subsidizing fossil fuel extraction, add a carbon tax, and lower the threshold for the inheritance tax and raise the percentage.

Instead, can we have a negative income tax?

Land, wealth, and other rents taxes.

Making college free is a huge waste of resources.

College is largely an exercise in social credentialing and signaling. If we make college free, the people who want to get ahead in society will just go to expensive graduate programs in order to distinguish themselves. Then the discussion will shift to fully funding those programs...

Our current system is very fair. Take out a loan if you need to, but make sure your post graduation prospects justify taking a loan out. If they don't, then don't get the loan.

One of the major reasons why college is so expensive today is because the availability of loans means Universities are able to continuously hike tuition in support of ever expanding bureaucracies (not in support of the core educational mission) without fear of students not being able to pay, because the loans mean students can always secure funding! Society is basically writing them a blank check... The answer is NOT to give them even more money!

College education has become a financial black hole that will only expand if we throw more money at it.

I have some bad news for you: graduate programs are usually fully funded and some PhD students even get a stipend for attending.

PhD students getting stipends are essentially contract employees. They are doing work, either as associate instructors or research assistants, for that money.


You prefer an under-educated population? The most valuable asset we have in the technology and service based economies is human capital. We need a creative and educated population to continue to compete. I think we should eliminate all for-profit education and preferably make all universities public.

Under educated population is a disaster, but that problem starts about 12 years before college, in a different all public/free education system.

Jamming more people through mediocre and worse college programs to get worthless degrees is a waste of time and money.

Why do you assume that degrees are "worthless?" How are you defining "worthless?" Based on the research, getting a degree significantly increases your earning potential. But I would argue that even if that wasn't the case and everyone got philosophy, literature, and history degrees, our country would be significantly better positioned globally.

And I agree with your statement that the problem starts earlier. Although most of our issues with primary and secondary public education can be traced to poverty and racism. So, I think we should raise taxes to address those as well :D.

You have to be careful with conflating causality. As we turn college more and more into highschool 2.0, we're going to see the correlation with increased earnings start to deteriorate. There's a simple matter that we're greatly increasing the supply of college educated individuals which, in turn, will have a diminishing effect on their demand which will drive earnings down. The only way this will not happen is if there's a proportional (which is to say sharp) increase in the number of available and desirable positions for college educated individuals.

This is also ignoring that we've greatly widened the demographic attending colleges. The reduced selectivity means that the average person is not going to be as top-notch as they were at one time, which means that the average expectation of an individual with a college degree will also go down. This will also have an aggregate depressing effect on our earning:education correlation. More important than ever will become median earnings for college graduates. The top graduates are earning vastly more than ever before which will mask the overall problem.

I’m referring to all the unemployed and underemployed college graduates complaining about the debt they are in. Simplify transferring the debt somewhere else isn’t fixing anything, it is just shifting the drain on society. College is highly useful for some people, and not others. We should do more to make sure it is available to those who would benefit, and offer different things for those who prefer or need trade skills.

Why do you proceed from the assumption that degrees have worth and demand that we prove that statement to be false?

In the real world it is the opposite - you assume the degree is worthless until you demonstrate the otherwise

Worthless = "no employer willing to pay good money for the skills or knowledge you acquired"

> You prefer an under-educated population

Who is undereducated? We managed to create a civilization that went to the moon back when the vast majority of people never went to college. Germany continues to be a leading industrial power while lagging most of Western Europe in college statistics (especially "academic" college like we have in the U.S.)

Is it possible to simultaneously have an over-educated population and an under-educated population? I am having a hard time squaring the two prevailing ideas on this issue. One is that we need more/free education because an educated population is best. The other is that we need to import vast amounts of new unskilled labor so we have someone to pick our fruit. I realize you only espoused one of these ideas, but I am curious if someone holds both those positions and would help me understand how both can be true at the same time.

If you define "educated" to be an expensive and worthless-to-the-world degree, then I am totally fine with an "under-educated" population.

People will still go for the degrees they go for today, which for the most part are degrees they believe will provide a good return on their investment of _time_. On top of that, unis would need to limit how many people are accepted to a penguin program, because how many qualified teachers can they throw at that?

Beyond admissions quotas, I imagine that if gov’t does decide to fully subsidize unis, they too will impose limits per field of study. This is already done in European countries that subsidize uni.

Finally, I think with “guaranteed” gov’t loans, unis have already taken a lot of their skin out of the game. They don’t have to worry about that student defaulting on their loan later, the gov’t does. Or even for private loans. If you had a seemingly infinite bank account, would you penny pinch or see how many new toys you could buy?

Then don't fund Shady St Uni. Put criteria in place for evaluating, and make sure the universities have skin in the game.

(Also, not every degree that doesn't immediately result in you making $250,000/year is worthless. And students are pretty motivated already in pursuing degrees that they see jobs in. Even if your education is free, if you put in 4+ years into something that you can't do anything with, you're still not profiting. Students themselves would still have skin in the game even with free education.)

Ok. Do that first and I might support it. But the guaranteed loans for everyone system of today has not only inflated costs, it supports a bunch of worthless crappy schools. Go look at the list of universities in the US, and find the bottom 100. They are as offensive and wasteful as a $10,000 toilet seat.

I agree. But that's not a product of free education.

It is a product of guaranteed government loans, which makes it “free” for universities to take students.

And here you see a difference between free and "free".

> Also, with no skin in the game, I’m sure college will get even less serious.

Or on the contrary, when students are no longer paying customers who have to be made happy, grading can get stricter

What's wrong with zoology / ornithology today?

Not sure why this is downvoted. There are plenty of degrees that might be useless for making an employer more money, but provide important work for society.

You can study whatever you want, wherever you want, without criticism or question if you are willing to pay your own way.

Very well, but what is your objection to zoology? Normally, people pick an arts subject when arguing about poor-value degrees.

Zoology is a biology course, so there's a general scientific background (research, hypotheses, statistics, modelling etc), and zoology in particular is necessary for understanding the spread of animal pests (e.g. insects eating pests), invasive species, human and animal disease (bird flu?), understanding/recording what is in a particular place (perhaps before construction work, or to guide the planning of that).

The report on the lowest- and highest-paying majors ranks zoology fairly highly -- above chemistry and physics: https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/valueofcollegemajors/

As we had seen from free education in most of Western Europe.

I believe when most people say “make college free”, they’re referring to a “tuition free” education. There is still a housing cost, which is “skin in the game”.

Eh, my ideal would be like Europe's that gives you a stipend as well to cover room and board. Paying for housing is more than a full time job in a lot of places with universities (particularly the good ones), and ideally we'd want students to be focusing on their studies.

In many of those places in Europe, stipend is really a loan you have to pay back. The terms are regulated but still ain't free money.

Sure, reappropriate some of the US military budget ($717 billion).


Not a bad idea. There are 1.6M professors (including part time, but let's just assume they're full time). If we paid them 100K each, it would only cost $160B per year. So we can definitely afford to continue with a smaller military.

Obviously the amount of people enrolling and therefore the number of professors will have to increase. However some of that can be addressed by using more internet based lectures, etc..

Also, to backfill the loss to the military, they could require a significant portion of the degrees be in robotics.


We're going to really need that military when China, when we make degrees in underwater basketweaving free for everyone and China (which has a sensible approach to what education is and is not valuable) overtakes us economically and technologically.

Sure. Those invisible fighter jets that don't work were a great investment.


The US military is a publicly funded socialist entity. Interesting how that's ok for war but not for education.

The U.S. military accepts something like 20% of its walk-in recruits. [0] When you imagine education as a "socialized entity," I strongly suspect you're not picturing an institution that rejects 80% of the population (for reasons like, say, being too fat).

[0] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/13/uncle-sam-d...

I don't think you understand. It's a thing we all pay for. It's a publicly funded service that defends the country. It's not about who gets in, it's about how it's paid for. We all pay together for something that is not explicitly for profit that we believe to be for the good of the country. This is socialism.

But also, to your point, colleges would still reject students based on grades. This happens in countries with free college education. Standards are still maintained but it doesn't depend on how much money you have. We would get the best candidates based on merit instead of their parents income.

On the contrary, I don't think you understand how college admissions work. When you're rejected by the military, there's no second- or third-tier back-up plan. But anybody who wants to go to college can go to college and they can get it paid for, no matter how unproductive or frivolous their major.

When Stanford rejects you, you try a state school; when the state school rejects you, you go to one of the state's less prestigious satellite campuses. If they reject you (which is extremely unlikely), you go to community college.

Federal aid is available at each strata.

Ok, sounds good, let's increase that federal aid and take the money from the military budget.

Can something be socialist when a private version could never exist?

Yes. That's not what defines it.

By that definition, isn't every military a socialist entity?

That's the point, isn't it?

The US right holds the contradictory opinions that socialized government can't accomplish anything effective, and that the US military (which is fundamentally a socialized entity) is amazing and awesome and supremely capable.


Look at how other countries in the world fund these things.

Germany even made University free for foreigners.

It's not free. There is no tuition, but at least in TUM (Munich) there is a 'student union and basic ticket' free. It's €129.40 per semester [1]. There are financial aid options available. This applies to all students regardless of nationality.

TUM is a top technical university by German, European and World standards. [2]

[1] - https://www.tum.de/en/studies/fees-and-financial-aid/ [2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_University_of_Munich...

This discussion is ridiculous from an European standpoint.

In Germany all universities (with very few exceptions) are completely free and students have just to pay their cost of living (can apply for subsidies for that too).

There were many studies which showed that ANY fee is a deterrent for students from poor families.

In my opinion the current political development around the world shows that better education is absolutely required for humanity. Education should be financed via taxes (and taxes for high incomes should be increased accordingly to finance it).

I liked the financial transaction tax proposed by Sanders. France, Belgium, and Singapore manage to have this without being known as financial wastelands were no exchanges exist.

Additionally fully nationalize the public schools, and work to remove the administrative bloat that has occurred. I know that the libertarian side here on HN is going to see this and say "more government -> less overhead? does not compute", but hear me out. Their pseudo private status has set up the incentives to de facto remove education from the core mission of universities. Chasing grant money, real estate capital, and investments might technically make them more money, but that flies in the face of what they should be doing, IMO.



I wasn't aware that professors in Germany were unpaid. Or that the NHS was purely volunteer. Or that either countries had abolished private industry in either of those contexts.

Oh wait, no, it just turns out that the turning point-esque meme that socialized services equates to free labor is just absurd.

Could you please not post like this? It's not what we're here for and we ban accounts that carry on.


Wow! You are right! Nobody is entitled to anyone's labor! We should make sure we let the capitalists who use the labor of everyone around them to extract profits.

Nice. Got a bite. Clearly you view the world as a zero-sum game. That's not reality. Reality is - I need help to get something done. You and I talk about you helping me get something done. You and I agree to exchange X value for Y labor. You get something of value and I get something of value. Nobody forced either of us into the agreement... we both did so freely. Wow. So right! So simple! Me like freedom. Me go eat waffle.

I joined the military to get out a bad family situation, after a tour in Iraq I was considered financially independent on the FAFSA due to my veteran status. That designation, in combination with my veteran education benefits, allowed me to pay for school.

While I am thankful it worked out for me, I know this is not a route open to everyone. Unless your family has the financial means (or you get a great scholarship), I am not sure there are many ways to go to college without getting into significant debt.

> Just make college free. Trying to make all of these complicated rules to make sure that a few people aren't "getting one over us" is just making more cracks for people to fall into.

Presumably you mean, increase taxes so we can pay for everyone to go to college? Not everyone wants to go to college. Your proposition means that those people are getting the shaft.

> ...FAFSA still considers you a dependent until you're 24. I was told that only with documentation of leaving an abusive household would a dependency exception grant be applied.

Would you mind saying when and by whom you were told this?

Asking because this was not my experience. While I can't remember if I had to/or was able to finagle my parents' info for FAFSA, I do remember having direct discussions w/my school @ the time so that they weren't trying to factor my parents' assets and income into their aid calculation.

I was told that in my specific situation, I'd need documentation of leaving an abusive household.

Ironically if I had applied to college while I was 17, they have a category for emancipated minor. But since I was no longer a minor, that didn't apply to me.

And to answer you question, this was repeated from several potential schools' financial aid departments.

Well I guess w/o knowing the specifics of our situations it's difficult to know why our experiences were so different, but if that is in fact what you did experience and you weren't trying to game the system (which it seems many people do try, unfortunately), I'm sorry that was your experience-- unless things worked out better for you?

Based on my experience and what you're saying, my sense is that the schools have wide latitude in deciding who they'll consider to be independent. I mean, the FAFSA form requests a bunch of info, but the gov't will calc w/o all of the fields being filled out. I'd guess that they and the schools are saying, 'If you are able to get the data from your parent(s), spouse, etc., you must be on good enough terms for them to contribute. So, gtfoh, w/your excuse(s).' While it's not right, it's convenient for them since, from what a friend in fin-aid consistently told me, there is always more demand for aid than there is supply.

All of this said, just w/respect to the general discussion, people need to give think a little more about what purpose(s) schools actually aim to serve and who benefits from things functioning as they do today. There, unfortunately, is no such thing as free formal schooling; money comes from somewhere. And a shortage of funding for the system isn't even an actual issue today in the U.S.

The questions more people should be asking are 'Why is (formal) education so expensive?' and 'Who is benefiting from this arrangement?' Once more people start figuring out the answers to those questions,-- some of which are actually quite interesting/disheartening/infuriating-- the avg person would be in a much better position. I say this, not musing on some theory, but having researched this a bit for a class I had in uni. Some of the answers are hidden in plain view.

Agreed, this was exactly the thing that led to me dropping out of college as well. In retrospect moving into software was the better decision, and I now have the money to go back if I choose, but folks missing out on the education experience because of poor law is completely avoidable.

> Just make college free.

I think a good compromise is to make public universities and community colleges free for residents of that state.

Private schools with massive endowments can do what they already do to make college affordable to the exceptionally poor or talented.

> now putting me outside of the income level where I'd get even federal loans (and quite frankly I still can't take on that debt load).

There are no income limits on federal student loans.

You're totally right, I misremembered that part.

There are definitely limits on the nice ones.

That's ironic, I came from a houshold with parents willing to pay my tuition until I was 25 but FAFSA decided that I needed money once I turned 24.

regarding "development job... putting me outside the income level":

I faced the same situation; after being rejected, all I had to do was file some extra paperwork ("special circumstances") saying that I'd left my job and no longer had any income.

I have exactly the same story. FAFSA was so frustrating.

While "gaining admission to NYU medical school" is likely correlated with good socio-economic background (as do all accomplishment), the correlation is not 100%.

You can get into NYU from a poor socio-economic background, if you work hard and attain academic excellence.

And while all students will appreciate this discount, it will make more of a difference to those who are not "fine without it", i.e. those below the top richest and most privileged (for whom spending $200-300k on education is easily affordable).

Finally, this isn't exactly pure charity out of the kindness of NYU's heart. It's a response to medical candidates choosing other fields due to cost and debt issues:


These are the exact candidates this subsidy seeks to relieve.

Per your first argument, even granting that admissions is meritocratic / fair for the sake of argument, the education you receive, networks provided, and simple prestige of the school all provide advantages that you will not find to such a degree at a lower tier school. Tuition subsidies adds an additional major advantage of not having the drag of loans slowing your future economic growth. Again, I understand that society is full of these self reinforcing advantages and that I benefit from many (including a public academic scholarship); the critique is merely incremental.

Per "it will make more of a difference to those who are not "fine without it"". Sure, but it would make more of a difference if needs based and scaled broadly (not sure what restrictions exist on the funds for this aim). Although this line of argument admittedly unravels into base utilitarianism when followed.

This argument is fascinating, because you are in effect arguing that people should be rewarded according to their lack of privilege: "we should give these subsidies to students from 'lower-tier schools' rather than students from 'top-tier schools' who are already well on their way to success".

This is the "social justice" argument.

Now let me ask you this:

If you get sick and require surgery, would you rather be treated by the smart, skilled, hard-working doctor who succeeded in everything he tried, including being accepted into a top school?

Or maybe you'd prefer the under-privileged doctor, who never did well academically, and only got into a lower-tier school, but managed to graduate thanks to your social justice subsidy?

Your argument seems to make society more just and equal, but you support it because it is convenient to appear as just person, and you are isolated from the repercussions of your proposal. In reality, your policy will prefer and encourage mediocre doctors over excellent ones, you just hope it won't affect you.

Thankfully, American society is structured in such a way that a top school like NYU can muster the funds required for the subsidy, and thus we will have more excellent doctors, instead of more poor ones.

That is the least generous take of my argument and not conducive to a productive discussion. Never did I make an argument about social justice or the removal of merit from the system. In fact, I was making an elitist argument, that those with great merit will do fine without a subsidy of their tuition and that the market will award them with or without this fund.

I did not mean to offend you, and apologize if I misread your comment.

Either way, I disagree that the better people will always prevail, no matter the circumstances. By definition, a stronger candidate will succeed where a weaker will fail, but that will only apply up to a particular challenge differential. If you keep shifting resources to the weaker candidate, the stronger will fail or give up, eventually.

On a personal level, I came from an underprivileged background myself, and succeeded due to stronger drive and working harder than most people I grew up with. But there were many points when I wanted to give up, and I know how close I was to ending up in the same failure mode as they did.

Finally, even if your argument was correct, and these medical school candidates would succeed "regardless", the point of these scholarships is to make sure they choose medicine as the field to apply themselves and succeed in. Sure, they'll be successful regardless: they'll just make a great career in investment banking, and leave medicine for those who have less options.

Society wants great doctors, so it pays the most qualified individuals to undertake a course of training and application in medicine. Makes sense, I think.

>>You can get into NYU from a poor socio-economic background, if you work hard and attain academic excellence.

Very true. Unfortunately many times the schools where a kid from a lower socio-economic background will attend will not prepare them for a school like NYU. In fact, sometimes it will probably be a net negative.

Not necessarily the school itself, but the whole environment. Other students will be so disruptive to an entire class or school that they will drag down their piers down with them. And by this I'm talking about gangs, drugs, bullying. And if it is not their piers it may be their family themselves who will drag down the kids (alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence).

And it is not like you can just say they should know better, because at that age they don't really know any better. Kids from crappy neighborhoods don't even start in the home base, many times they are not even allowed to play.

I've been in many different socio-economic backgrounds.

First school I went to was the lowest performing school in Georgia, in which I was the only white child. By high school I had moved to the highest performing high school in the state, where the senators sent their kids, etc. "Real Housewives of Atlanta" was from my school district then.

Drugs, alcoholism, bullying, and domestic violence happen in every environment, and in my experience they trend towards those with the means to sustain those habits. The rich kids had been doing coke and molly since they were 13 and have been buying it from their classmates. In the richer burbs, the cops are present to keep out people who "shouldn't be there", and less to keep the citizens who "should be there" from breaking the law. The huge emphasis on "upstanding members of the community" having a "traditional household" hides high levels of domestic violence.

I agree that kids from the poorer backgrounds don't even start on first base, but it's not because of any life choices they've made in a lot of cases.

Out of curiosity, if it wasn't the environmental or family differences, and if the cops aren't preventing crime in the higher-income neighborhoods, what do you think caused the first school to be low-performing and the other to be high-performing?

I don't think it was negative environmental differences, but the positive ones.

The kids in the burbs had been taught to read before they entered school. The teachers are just better, as they're paid better there (school funding comes from property taxes). The kids are pushed to succeed, internalize that, and push eachother to succeed, whereas school in the city felt more like daycare going into prison.

Also, your teenage screwups are far more likely to be swept under the rug or not be noticed in the burbs. Saw more guns in school there. Saw kids get busted for literal pounds of drugs, but because their dad knew the DA or something they got a sealed misdemeanor possession, and had it expunged as quickly as possible.

You know the saying "you're fine as long as you aren't breaking more than one law at a time"? Like don't speed if you have a joint in your car, etc.? That comes from a huge position of privilege that isn't afforded to a lot of the population.

EDIT: Also I was told (but haven't confirmed) that apparently colleges were weighting grades from the higher background school in such a way that you could be a B or C student, and after weighting it was the equivalent of off the charts in the other district. Like literally unattainable, straight As with AP classes (if they were even offered) would still be weighted as less.

Why does a socio-economic background disqualify someone from having drive? How about dreams? Should poor kids flush those for the good of the class? Because they MIGHT have bad apples in their social circle? For circumstances they don't control- we ought to prevent them from being able to change those circumstances via opportunity and hard work?

How common do you think this is? I would bet it is no more common than other shitty circumstances regardless of socio-economic status.

This entire sentiment is nonsenical IMO.

I've never had the displeasure of being around so many drugs as when I went to prep school-- not some random private school, but a legitimately prestigious one to which future U.S. presidents and or their spawn are sent. Kids there were smuggling large quantities of narcotics in and out of the country, sometimes at the risk of death.(No, I am not exaggerating.) They were also robbing each other of said drugs. The difference is that because of the institution(s), players involved, etc., more discretion is involved in how disputes were handled. All of this scales down the further removed one gets from such environs until you reach the disproportionately poor groups, who make up the bulk of the stories that people hear, but not necessarily the bulk of "crime" were they to be policed at the same levels of the former mentioned groups.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, bullying, domestic violence are issues that affect people of 'noble birth', too. In fact, a number of kids I knew in school were acutely aware of the fact that their parents saw them as a burden or impediment to their own lives and as such, sent shipped them off to boarding school. And so, the kids drank and drugged... Fast forward to college, I know of one kid whose parents shipped off on a study abroad trip to "cure his drug addiction." Yeah, he ODed while we were on a ship in the middle of the Pacific-- though he'd scored coke, but surprise, surprise, the nice dealer he'd met while were in a SE Asian port gave him something else.

tldr: Yep, kids from poor neighborhoods often don't start out w/the same advantages as those from higher socio-economic backgrounds, but kids from the latter backgrounds often work vary hard to even the playing field by engaging in self-destructive behaviors that for some reason people like to mostly associate w/being poor. Really the only difference is that certain members of society are more willing to forgive even the worst behavior for one group while penalizing mercilessly those of the other for the most innocuous behaviors.

Ps. A pier is something one might take a walk on. A peer is a member of a cohort, class, etc., ostensibly.

>>Ps. A pier is something one might take a walk on. A peer is a member of a cohort, class, etc., ostensibly.

Thanks for pointing it out. Didn't notice the error until you mentioned it. Too late to change it now.

Cool. It happens.

This is a problem we have in Europe as well (at least southern EU where I'm from): colleges are almost free (1000€/yr here, so affordable), even the best ones.

But who can get to the best ones? People from poorer environments unfortunately get a poorer education as well (middle and high schools are of less quality), and it makes it way harder for them.

Equal opportunity is really tricky to get right.

I am the first person in my family to attend university. Stanford gave me a full ride to study CS and it has made a world of difference in my ability to access opportunities.

I am an anecdote obviously. However, I want it to be known that at Stanford, people at the bottom of the economic ladder receive aid, but people in the middle still get squeezed.

Making tuition free for all would actually be a net positive. Sure. There are people at the top who would benefit, but for the most part, financial aid is financed by the estates of people in that elite socioeconomic class.

I don't really have a point here. This is just my experience of the system.

Yea but historically Stanford was tuition free for everyone. (Like the founders wished it to be.) So that's why they have such an extensive student aid program, properly not the same anywhere else.

Edit: Actually more of a comment for the post before.

This is pretty common at top schools. I know many of the Ivies also gives tons of aide to those who need it the most.

it’s definitely falling short of that ideal. i know too many people getting squeezed.

Those competitive jobs will likely to go to the better-credentialed people anyway, regardless of debt status.

On the other hand, perhaps some great minds choose to go into medicine rather than banking, or more important but lower-paying medical disciplines, because they know they won't be graduating with crippling debt. That seems like a big win.

This. Specialties that have a high quality of life but are often impossibly underpaid relative to the student loan debt burden (eg Family Medicine / Rural Medicine) should see a boost in residency candidates.

On the other hand, subsidies that everyone gets are the best kind: they're a small help for people who don't need them, and a big help for people who do need them. And there's no bureaucrats who get to decide if you need them or not.

To be so privileged that the free med school is something you can do without is to be in an almost insignificant percentage of the population. Even for the upper middle class med school costs are huge.

Now less privileged people can see NYU med school as something to aspire to. I fail to see the problem here.

>I'll probably be downvoted on a forum like this, but I worry about the most successful universities using their funds to subsidize those who would be fine without it.

This is the definition of "means-testing" and it is bad. Testing and "checking" that the recipients of social welfare is complicated and doomed to create a group of excluded people who believe they should have merited it. Means-testing introduces fiscal cliffs, creates a separate of haves and have-nots, and lots of other unnecessary anxieties between classes of peoples. The savings means-testing produces is tiny in aggregate and the harm to culture is large.

Moreover, means-testing becomes the fulcrum that anti-social welfare reformists use to destroy programs. Means-testing introduces an additional point of failure, brittleness that can be exploited. It's hard to rip away a program that is granted to all comers, but if there is a clear line between haves and have-nots, they you can just move the line. This has happened multiple times to the Affordable Care Act, and states regularly do this to medicaid and food stamp programs, to their detriment.

The most successful social programs have no means testing: social security, medicare. If you value social welfare programs, you will not inflict means-testing on them.

Just out of curiosity, would you(r family) have been able to afford medical school anyway?

This isn't just for the poor, it's also for the well-educated, solidly middle-class people who still can't afford med school, or have to go deep in debt, thus leading to them being forced to prioritize high-earning careers over those they might otherwise be inclined towards, medical careers that might have a more positive social impact.

What are you worried about?

Indeed. Some of these universities (Stanford, Harvard) are so filthy rich that they could provide free tuition for everyone and still watch their endowments grow from investment returns alone. Not to mention the enormous gifts they receive from successful alumni. Harvard has received hundreds of millions from the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

And to think that this was Stanford's original mission.

More to do with undergraduates not pursuing MDs. I believe # of applicants actually dipped last year for the first time in a very long time.

Graduates of mid/low tier universities seem more and more likely to have to compete with better credentialed people with lower debt.

Or maybe it starts a trend that if you apply yourself and make sure you do really well at X, you can graduate without a lot of debt. Maybe this leads to a world where we get better at helping people find the thing they can excel at so they can qualify for the free ride and then be awesome at their profession after they graduation. And maybe this becomes a trend where other universities decide a full ride is the only thing that makes sense.

There is an S curve where rich people, who can afford to take risks, try new things. They get to winnow out what doesn't work. The things that succeed become popular and this makes them affordable to the masses.

But, first, someone needs to give it a shot. And that someone is usually pretty well-heeled.

I'm okay with that.

How many Billion dollar companies haven't been started because a brilliant but poor entrepreneur was unable to take the risk? How enormous is the societal loss because of this? Frankly I find your position disturbing.

That would presuppose that admission at schools like Stanford is more skewed towards wealthy students than the "lesser" schools. Which I doubt. But even if, then that would be the problem to address, rather than cutting the assistance programs.

It's not even remotely controversial that students at top schools are overwhelmingly more well off than average. At Stanford theres roughly the same number of students whose families are in the top 1% of income as those in the bottom 60%.


But isn't that a tremendous endorsement of Stanford? That they have recruited so well and changed their cost structure so effectively that even the poor can attend?

How do other top-level schools compare?

Not really? Yes there are other schools that are worse than Stanford, sometimes significantly more but take a top public school like University of Texas which has 5x as many students from the bottom 60% as from the top 1% (5.4% and 27.7%)

Stanford is at 17.5% and 18.6%.

For comparison Harvard is better, MIT is significantly better, on par with Texas, Yale and Princeton are slightly worse.

My point was about whether or not the Stanford Students' wealth distribution is more skewed towards higher family income, as compared to other schools.

And additionally, whether or not these differences are driven by academic achievement (which is often higher in higher income families, for various reasons if not more money spent on good grades) or other reasons.

But do they charge tuition to their bottom 60%? Stanford has a tuition program where its no-cost if your family income is low.

> a wealthy Stanford alumni

Grammar tip: In English, the word "alumnus" is typically declined as it would be in Latin. Especially amongst academics, I'd say.

So if you're writing for that audience, the appropriate forms of "alumnus" are, I think, as follows [0]:

"alumnus" - One male, or one person of unspecified sex.

"alumna" - One female.

"alumnae" - Multiple females.

"alumni" - Multiple persons whose sex is all male, mixed male/female, or unspecified.

[0] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/alumnus#Latin

I rarely hear that anymore. I almost always hear "alumni" in all cases. I've tried saying to the librarians of my alma mater that I'm an alumnus and they repeat back to me, "oh, you're an alumni, sure, let me get you alumni access to our system."

Maybe it's common somewhere else to make those distinctions, but they're not common at McGill.

Unfortunately, common or not, the usage of "alumni" in that context is incorrect. It may be a bit pedantic to insist on correctness in Latin, but all other schools use the term correctly and it doesn't reflect well on a well-regarded school to use the term incorrectly.

Isn't language defined by common use over time?

Yes it is by processes of consensus arising from appeals to stylistic license, shared community language, memes, etc. But not every grammatical error falls into these categories.

Think of it this way - let's say you make a grammatical mistake that most people consider a mistake. You shouldn't hide behind the "language evolves" catch-all card... you should to recognize it as a mistake and try to use the correct form.

"Alumni" is plural.

Your first sentence almost led you to a realization that you're wrong, but you just barely missed the boat judging from your last sentence.

Not at all. You have misread me. That language evolves is a common used argument (and there is a place for it) but often used as a catch-all argument to justify errors.

But in this case alumni is in common use in that way and has been for some time. You yourself acknowledged that by starting your comment with "Unfortunately, common or not".

> But in this case alumni is in common use in that way and has been for some time.

I dispute that. Googling doesn't turn up many examples of official usage of alumni in the singular.

I also disagree with your second claim, which is a projection. When I said "common or not", I meant that frequency in itself does not automatically make something correct, and I gave reasons why in a follow-up comment. I didn't claim that usage was common.

I'm not trying to be difficult, but alumni really is plural. Using alumni as singular is not correct.

It's also important that it's alumnīs in ablative when you're going away from multiple alumnīs.

My friends don't seem to like when I tell them about proper declension when we're in the stadiō.

You could be right, I don't know. Of all the Latin lessons I had in high school, I probably zoned out the most during those that covered the ablative case. :)

txru is trolling you. when we inflect Latin words in English, we always treat them as if they have nominative case.

When I was at University, I worked for the Department of Annual Giving, at first on the phones. I still remember one of the other callers always starting her spiel with "We're calling all the alumnis." With an English plural on top of a Latin plural, for good measure, I suppose. I cringed every time.

(Though, to be fair, the native English word children is in fact a double plural as well. [The -re is plural, thus early/dialectal forms childer "child [pl.]", and then later with a plural -n slapped on top of the already plural word, presumably because the -re plural ending had become somewhat obscure, just as Latin plural endings are for some modern English speakers.] Doesn't make me cringe any less at "alumnis", despite that.)

My Latin is a little rusty and mixing Latin grammar with English is doomed to be an exercise in futility, but IIRC that declension is only correct if you're using alumn- as an adjective for another noun which is masculine or feminine (which doesn't necessarily match the gender of the person, e.g. agricola is a masculine noun but can refer to a female farmer)

If you're using it by itself as a noun, it's 2nd declension and the ending changes only based on plurality or case, not the gender of the actual graduate(s)

> mixing Latin grammar with English is doomed to be an exercise in futility

I agree. When thinking about the use of "proper" English, I find myself conflicted.

One the one hand, I truly believe that languages evolve, and it's silly to put any one particular version of English on a pedestal. That includes the version(s) one might associated with English speakers who are well-educated and/or wealthy.

On the other hand, I was raised to speak "proper" English, because my father believed that it strongly affects others' first impressions of the speaker's intelligence. I think my father was right about that, although I'm still undecided about how much it matters, and whether or not it's a concern worth catering to.

No, if you're using it by itself as a noun, it's 2nd declension when masculine and 1st declension when feminine, just like most nouns coming from adjectives and exhibiting obvious gender. Agricola and its cousins are exceptions, not the general case. Compare amicus / amica.

Alternatively, if you're using it by itself as an adjective, obviously it will take the appropriate gender. You don't need an explicit noun if you're happy with an implicit "man", "woman", or "thing".

I can say that in Latin countries, like Italy, where basic Latin knowledge is common, we use "Alumni" talking about one male/female anyway.

Same grammar confusion happens with "curriculum" (single) or "curricula" (multiple).

In my experience, most people simply use "alum" for the singular, "alums" for the plural. Dropping the n, even!

Presumably a combination of reanalysing "alumn-us", "alumn-i", etc. as "alum-nus", "alum-ni", etc. and a phonological preference/constraint against word-final /mnz/. And against /mn/ too: even English column is /ˈkɒləm/ and not /ˈkɒləmn/.

If you insist on being pedantic, at least be correct.

"alumnum" is the correct Latin term for a singular person of undetermined sex.

My understanding of the issue comes from long-ago high-school Latin classes, and a few websites ([0], [1]).

If you have a more authoritative source of information I'd be grateful for a link.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alumnus

[1] https://www.grammarly.com/blog/alumna-alumnae-alumni-alumnus...

I decided against doing an MD degree at USC because I was shocked by how much money I would have owned at the end of it.

So this is a great news for many people like me. I wish this was around when I was applying.

I agree. The system is set to means test in a backwards looking fashion rather than a forward looking one. I don’t think that makes much sense. I don’t especially see why a future-hedge-fund worker ought to get free tuition even if his parents don’t make much money.

That said, insane cost growth is obviously the overwhelming issue in education over everything else. Almost any system that reins that in is going to be superior to one that doesn’t—-even if it is otherwise less fair.

Completely different situation, but something like that is discussed in Italy too, where the majority and most prestigious university happen to be public: why should we make the tuition free for everyone, specially when it's so low here, refusing the moneys of more riches people that pay more?

The natural solution is invest more in scholarships, at least here. I'm sure that the situation in US is fully different though.

University may be affordable without loans if it were not for all of the capex expenditures every year and needless administration. Education has a huge HR problem. Lots of people doing nothing and it is sucking our young dry.

You mean parents. All this money you're talking about comes from old people.

If you're worried about inequality, you need to take the money away from the rich people, not worry about this or that little thing.

I would say it is pretty hard to determine who would be fine without it. Just because a student is from a wealthy family does not mean that the family will pay for their kids tuition.

I don't believe it will lower medical costs, but would drive students to consider the much needed general practitioner which generally pays less.

The paywall hits for me before the source(s) of the subsidies is identified (assuming they are identified). So how much is public and how much is private?

"NYU raised more than $450 million of the roughly $600 million it estimates it will need to fund the tuition package in perpetuity, including $100 million from Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone and his wife, Elaine."

Sounds largely private.

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