A modest proposal: No student loans till 30

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
I don’t like to use the word “crisis” unless people are actually running around the streets on fire and screaming, but this whole student loan mess is becoming a bit of a problem. Student loans top both credit card and auto loan debt...

And a college degree just ain't worth what it used to be. I wonder if this will shift parents and students to less expensive online and local options for higher ed.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Sadly, they are not usually much less expensive, and sometimes the same price as on-campus classes.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Sadly, they are not usually much less expensive, and sometimes the same price as on-campus classes.

It takes a bit of effort and research, but we've planned college, via CLEPing, online courses, and local courses, for our son Noah. As the numbers stand now, he can earn a Bachelor of Science in Psychology for about 15Gs. It's not impossible, you just have to do some serious shopping around.

I think that's the direction that higher ed can (and should) go in anyway. Life's a buffet- grab a spoon!

Shaynus's picture

Learn how to develop iPhone apps, and I have a job for you making $80K as an 18 year old.

Seth Johnson's picture

How about the proposal I had for my college tuition...financial aid was tied directly to academic and civic responsibility...bad grades or participation in wild partying and the financial aid was cut off for the next semester. Their help didn't pay the whole tuition bill but was greatly appreciated. Thanks mom and dad.

Jim's picture

My son just graduated from the U of Minnesoata w a degree in Mech Engineering

He will turn 30 next month so he has had a busy decade since HS graduation; but he graduated debt free.

He served 6 years in the USMC (including service in Iraq).

He started college 6 years ago. At first he purposed to major in Economics, but changed to Engineering 4 years ago.

He worked a number of jobs: hardware store, at a major bank, internship at 3m, and the Army reserve. He continues as a Staff Sgt with the Army reserve. He graduated one week ago. He is now relaxing in for a week and will start at Seagate as an engineer on 5/21.

Things have been tight financially - for example his car is a 20 year old Toyota that is a complete beater, but he graduated debt free.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jim,

I went a similar route - minus the military service. My BA took 7.5 years to finish at a Christian college with no help from parents, or anyone else, but I finished debt free. Some of my former classmates are still paying off their loans 15-20 years later. Debt is always bad, but especially for those intending to enter vocational ministry.

__________________________________________________________________________________
Susan,

Thanks for making my point.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

You know, I think this is the direction future higher ed is going to go. However, I'm not convinced it's a good thing. I am taking doctoral classes right now via internet. I have taken modular classes and traditional classes. I have been an educator for 15 years. Condensing classes might save money, but it sacrifices education in the bargain. Besides what is lost in the classroom, students also lose the sharpening that happens among students who discuss what they are learning - regardless of the major.

The underlying problem is the increasing availability of student loans. I know, cutting back the loans might mean some kids miss out on higher education - though there's no reason more can't do what Jim's son and I did to get through college. But the readily available supplies of cash mean colleges can continue raising their prices without any threat to themselves. I am currently teaching middle school history. One of my favorite topics for my students there applies here. It comes from Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address. He said, "Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem." Government's so-called solution is killing higher education.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Internet classes will not always be like they are now. With the easy availability of internet teleconferencing, there will be no problem with classroom discussions and participation just as happens in the traditional setting now. In fact, I know of someone who was at our church before he graduated who took some high-school classes in that fashion -- his attendance could be verified online, and if he wasn't connected, visible to the teacher and able to respond, he didn't get credit for that class.

There will certainly be some hands-on type classes that will require physical presence, but those will continue to decline, especially with remote facilities that do not require an entire university structure. There is no reason that in the future there will need to be 100's of universities all that have an expensive building program, endowments, etc. In fact, with the right kind of licensing, and spreading out of grading work, there's no reason every budding lawyer could not take class from Harvard Law professors, or engineering from MIT, etc.

School does not need to be as expensive as it is for students to get a really good education. Most of the money is going to support an old-fashioned (some might say outdated) system that will need to change at some point, same as the film development industry, or paper printing, etc., etc. It will take some time for this to change completely, but I rather doubt that college for my (as yet non-existent) grandchildren will look anything like what it does today. I'm sure some will say that that will make education suffer, but I doubt that if done correctly, it will be as bad as will be predicted, and in fact will probably have some advantages over what is done now. It's a surety that the education inflation happening at the rate it is will have some fallout. I think the colleges should be thinking ahead to what it will mean for the students rather than trying to simply preserve facilities and jobs. The current model is completely unsustainable long-term, and the sooner that is realized and planned-for, the better.

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

I continue to think there is something significant about presence which is lost when you don't have actual presence. It's why people can have CDs and MP3s of their favorite groups, but there is nothing like the live experience (or so they tell me). I think the physical, personal interaction is a huge part of education. You can't replicate the value of face to face even with webcams and instant messenging of some sort.

I think we will return to a more vocational training system and away from a liberal arts education. Even now, aren't liberal arts educations increasingly vocational or specific in nature? I don't know if that is good or bad. Probably bad over all, but I think "liberal arts" probably has a double entendre due to the atmosphere of higher education and that isn't a good thing.

BTW, there's a site (I can't remember what it is) where you can already take some of MIT's classes for free though not for credit. Same with many other schools, including seminaries like Covenant Seminary. So you can avail yourself of teaching and knowledge, but I wonder if education might still require face to face presence and interaction.

Charlie's picture

Larry, I think you raise some good points.

I've taught in traditional classroom settings and was in training for online teaching when I left that organization. All the teachers in the online program had already been traditional classroom teachers. Many of them replied that the online environment engendered better student interaction, a finding that surprised me. I was a bit skeptical of the online classes. However, especially shy students can find the format liberating. They're more likely to express their opinions, because they don't feel as much peer pressure from their classmates. Also, each class had a TA that took questions in private chat. The private chat feature was great for students who didn't grasp a concept but would never "interrupt" a class to ask for clarification. So, I think temperament plays a role in how students react to it.

As for presence, I think that's worth considering. I had several large lecture classes in college. With 400 students in a straight-lecture format, does the physical presence of the professor really matter? A 1-on-1 chat over coffee is definitely a more "present" experience than an email conversation, but I think a sustained email conversation or a live online small-group format is still much better than being a name on a roster of 30+ students. My hope is that the technological options we have will let us focus our physical resources in the areas that need them most. For a seminary, maybe an intro NT class could be delivered just as well online, but a sermon preparation class would best stay in a traditional classroom format.

For better or worse, I think a hybrid teacher/TA system is likely to form. Think of a large class of 500 students that all have the same main professor and curriculum, but is broken into groups of 10-20 with TAs who work with them on a more individual basis.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jim's picture

My daughter's plan:

1. Took post-secondary as a Senior in H.S.: took her Sr. Year at a community college paid by the state. Starts her 1st year of college as a Sophomore
2. Began working at 14: 2 years at a pizza place ... Followed by 6 years at Caribou coffee (like a Starbucks)
3. Spread 3 years of college over four. Rose to supervisor at coffee shop
4. Graduated w a degree in finance from Univ of Minnesota at Mankato
5. In her final semester gets a 5,000 credit card w no interest for 1 yr
6. Before graduation receives a signing bonus of $ 5,000 ... Payable after 90 days of employment
7. Graduates and tours Europe for 10 weeks
8. Starts job w 3M
9. Receives signing bonus after 90 days and pays the CC off
10. Debt free education

Jim's picture

She had at least one scholarship each year. No single one that big ... Maybe between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000 each year

We paid all of her auto costs except a transmission repair that we split w her

The last two years we bought a new Saturn because the previous clunker was too expensive to repair. We sold the 2 yr old Saturn to her after graduation

Barry L.'s picture

Since we now realize that we'll have to work to age 75, working on your degree to age 30-35 is not a terrible thing. You don't have to finish in standard 4-6 years.

I'd be very careful getting my online degree at certain online colleges. Definitely do your research. Just because you save more money than traditional doesn't mean you get the same opportunities upon graduation.

I will say, that making it more difficult to borrow for college will cause people to make wiser decisions on the major they choose. Based more on what makes them more employable rather than what what be cool to study...

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I have found that many employers aren't giving as much weight to brand name colleges as they used to. Once upon a time, attending certain schools granted automatic 'status' and a leg up. But in many fields, employers are giving heavy consideration to a student's actual accomplishments and the recommendations from their previous employers, rather than the brand name on their degree.

If you are using a variety of sources for higher ed, you MUST consider how and IF credits transfer. That's a biggie.

One of the points the article makes is the stupid use of college as a sort of stepping stone to independence, a place to party away from mom and dad, or a way to 'find yourself'. None of these are, IMO, adequate reason to spend thousands of dollars, only to declare bankruptcy later and let taxpayers foot the bill.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Charlie, you said it much better than I did. I agree that a hybrid system is probably what will happen. Take, for example, the typical 1st year Gross Anatomy class taken in a medical school. I would guess that half of the material covered could be done in a typical remote class. The other half -- well, nothing would replace hands-on experience, but I wonder if the hands-on work as well as a remote class could be done by the students in a local morgue, rather than in a central location, with local oversight, even though the head professor is remote. I'm sure there are plenty of issues I haven't thought of, but that's kind of my point -- how we do education will need to be completely rethought, as the current model with its huge inflation and maintenance of way too many redundant facilities is clearly not sustainable. Some of what is currently done in education is done because it was the best way a long time ago, not necessarily because it couldn't be done better or more efficiently another way now.

It's really interesting to hear about the greater interaction from online students who might not be willing to interact in a normal classroom situation.

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
None of these are, IMO, adequate reason to spend thousands of dollars, only to declare bankruptcy later and let taxpayers foot the bill.
I do not think that student loans are dischargable in bankruptcies.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

It is possible to discharge student loan debt if it can be proved that repaying the debt “will impose an undue hardship on you and your dependents.” Brunner v. New York State Higher Educ. Servs. Corp.

Ron Bean's picture

It is sad to see how many graduates, including those with advanced degrees, have no job experience of any kind. It's hard to get hired without a job history.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/business/student-loans-weighing-down-a...

Quote:
Ms. Griffith, 23, wouldn’t seem a perfect financial fit for a college that costs nearly $50,000 a year. Her father, a paramedic, and mother, a preschool teacher, have modest incomes, and she has four sisters. But when she visited Ohio Northern, she was won over by faculty and admissions staff members who urge students to pursue their dreams rather than obsess on the sticker price.

“As an 18-year-old, it sounded like a good fit to me, and the school really sold it,” said Ms. Griffith, a marketing major. “I knew a private school would cost a lot of money. But when I graduate, I’m going to owe like $900 a month. No one told me that.


Let me get this straight- she didn't do the math before signing on the dotted line? Do people really have to be told that if they go to a school that costs 50G a year that they will owe 200G when all's said and done? Like, I did that calculation in less than 3 seconds, and I didn't need to spend four years in college to figure it out.

Quote:
Even discounted, the price is beyond the means of many. Yet too often, students and their parents listen without question.

“I readily admit it,” said E. Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State University, who has also served as president of Vanderbilt and Brown, among others. “I didn’t think a lot about costs. I do not think we have given significant thought to the impact of college costs on families.”

I think the pressure to send kids to college is so great (if your kids don't go to college, it's embarrassing, or you are a 'failure' as a parent) that they sign first and ask questions later. Bad, bad idea. People need to know that http://www.collegeplus.org/ there are options .

Ron Bean's picture

There are government loan agencies who are lending money that isn't theirs.
There are schools who are glad to take money and SEEMINGLY don't care if this young person is majoring in Incan Art History (or University Studies-my favorite) where a job future is dubious.
And there are students who have never worked, never had a personal budget, and never had to make monthly payments on anything.

I know there are exceptions, but the above is a recipe for disaster.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jim's picture

Although my experience was 40 yrs ago, I do think that working through college is prudent. I had multiple jobs over 4 yrs: chemical plant worker in the Summers, greenhouse work, shoe sales, and newspaper work.

Dick Dayton's picture

Like Jim Peet, my experience is "ancient history." I came from a secular home, and my parents paid for my undergrad studies in science. In grad school, I had a fellowship, so it was a pretty clear path to the advanced degree.

When the Lord drew me to Himself and called me to ministry, all those comforts changed. I worked 40 - 60 hours a week all through Bible school. I crammed 3 years into 6, and we had two children. Even though it was the recession of the early 1970's, the Lord graciously provided work in the factories in our area.

Looking back upon those years, there were some invaluable lessons : 1) God provides. Even in recessionary times, there were jobs out there. They were usually hard work, involved getting dirty, and hours that kept me tied up from 3 to midnight. But, God provided both work and the strength to do it. 2) Working wtih others in the factories was a great learning experience in working with people. This was a whole segment of society I had not known before, and it was a great experience. 3) The long and hard hours made pastorng seem quite workable. For six years, I went from about 6 AM to midnight. There are some long days in ministry, but we do get to regulate our own schedules, to be sure we accomplish what must be done, along with time for family and reflection.

However, I must also recognize that the kinds of jobs the Lord provided are not as easily available now. With outsourcing, much of the manufacturing industry has fled our country. This makes it more of a challenge for this younger generation.

When I graduated from Bible College, we had paid off our mobile home, had no school debt, and a very small savings. This permitted us to serve in a smaller work, where we loved our people and had great time.

Those who graduate with high debt do carry a burden, and I would encourage younger people to pay off that debt as soon as possible.

Dick Dayton

Ron Bean's picture

Recently I have had the opportunity to talk with a professional "head hunter". (No, not THAT kind! The kind that matches employers with job seekers.) He said that there has been an increase of job applicants with degrees from Bachelors to PHD's who have never worked in their lives. A lot of them have huge amounts of debt while some have little or none thanks to scholarships or wealthy parents. Most employers expect some kind of work history. Barring that, they might offer a person who has none an entry level position.Surprisingly, a number of these recent graduates refuse to accept these offers.

IMO, a resume that has nothing under the "Work Experience" header is a liability.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jay's picture

Good discussions going here; appreciated a lot of what was said previously, esp. Charlie and Shaynus's posts.

I recently went to technical school for computer networking classes. I took one set of classes via straightforward video recordings and another class via a more interactive, online classroom environment. The interactive and online classroom environment was far better that the canned videos, but I would definitely recommend a real classroom over the online model if it is at all feasible. That being said, the online system that my school used was just about perfect simply because it gave me and others the ability to ask questions privately and in real time, and that did eliminate the mental/social barrier of 'do I interrupt the class to ask this question or not?' AND because the teacher made it a point to emphasize that we could always call or email; I'm not sure that we'd get that level of availability for a real life instructor.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

pvawter's picture

I completely agree with those who have said that students ought to work through college. My experience is not so ancient as some previous commentors, since this year marks my 10 year reunion, but I made specific choices to minimize the costs associated with college by living at home and attending a school nearby, taking advantage of as much financial aid (in the forms of scholarships and grants) as I could, and working as much as possible. I worked as a short-order cook, press operator, retail salesman and auto technician, and as a 22-year-old graduate, I already had a 13-year work history.
With the advent of distance education in the last 10 years, very few students must move far from home for an education (even a Christian one) anymore.
I wonder, if an 18-year-old student is incapable of recognizing the financial burden of their student loans, are they really ready for independence? Furthermore, if they don't understand the consequences of taking out massive loans for themselves, can they possibly understand the consequences of a federal government routinely practicing deficit spending? Yet we allow them to vote.