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.
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.
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 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...
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'?
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.
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.
It is 100% correct to refer to a bank as a lender. This is standard use of terminology.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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...
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.
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.
Though I question why an AEI schill should be considered a credible source on anything.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> people call for X to be socialized
Alas it never gets to the final step: X is 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!
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.
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.
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.
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
And very few people get government scholarships, most get loans which must be repayed: essentially an extra tax on the middle class.
And states only fund roughly half of school's out of their budgets and that number has decreased in recent years.
Untrue. Lots of people get Pell Grants, but the value of each is very small.
==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?
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.
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. 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
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.
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
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. (:
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.
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.
Just 23 of 228 (NCAA DIV 1 2013) athletic departments were profitable for their schools.
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.
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).
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.
Plus, the nature of the subsidy is important. State-sponsored universities don't seem any more culpable than private ones in this mess.
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.
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.
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...
Imagine what they could be doing if more people were going to college.
Certainly factors into the cost, but seems unlikely it's the key factor in the rising costs.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 . 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 .
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
Sure, have some funding ideas?
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.
Jamming more people through mediocre and worse college programs to get worthless degrees is a waste of time and money.
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.
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.
In the real world it is the opposite - you assume the degree is worthless until you demonstrate the otherwise
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.)
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?
(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.)
Or on the contrary, when students are no longer paying customers who have to be made happy, grading can get stricter
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/
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.
The US military is a publicly funded socialist entity. Interesting how that's ok for war but not for education.
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.
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.
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.
Germany even made University free for foreigners.
TUM is a top technical university by German, European and World standards. 
 - https://www.tum.de/en/studies/fees-and-financial-aid/
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_University_of_Munich...
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).
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.
Oh wait, no, it just turns out that the turning point-esque meme that socialized services equates to free labor is just absurd.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no income limits on federal student loans.
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.
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 "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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for pointing it out. Didn't notice the error until you mentioned it. Too late to change it now.
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 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.
Edit: Actually more of a comment for the post before.
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.
Now less privileged people can see NYU med school as something to aspire to. I fail to see the problem here.
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.
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.
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 do other top-level schools compare?
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.
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.
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 :
"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.
Maybe it's common somewhere else to make those distinctions, but they're not common at McGill.
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.
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.
My friends don't seem to like when I tell them about proper declension when we're in the stadiō.
(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.)
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)
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.
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".
Same grammar confusion happens with "curriculum" (single) or "curricula" (multiple).
"alumnum" is the correct Latin term for a singular person of undetermined sex.
If you have a more authoritative source of information I'd be grateful for a link.
So this is a great news for many people like me. I wish this was around when I was applying.
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.
The natural solution is invest more in scholarships, at least here. I'm sure that the situation in US is fully different though.
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.
Sounds largely private.