Is College Worth It?

I have written before about how challenging I find suggestions that college has no value. When research suggests that learning or critical thinking is not occurring on the college campus, I know that I see otherwise at my university, with my students. Does the academe have work to do? You bet. But creating a society of education privilege where only certain individuals are encouraged to pursue a degree is not an answer.

This Chronicle editorial suggests we are already creating that privilege by pricing a large portion of the population out of the higher education pool.

…going to college is worth it, but going to any college at any price may no longer be worth it. ~Jeff Selingo

But for another viewpoint here is an interesting debate of whether too many students are attending college. It highlights the argument that increased access to higher education has little influence on economic growth. And although I find this argument insulting to education and our students, it is worthy for discussion. Who decides who attends college?

To ask whether too many people are going to college begs another question: If too many people are going to college, then who are these people?  How should we as a society ration a more restricted level of educational opportunity?  ~Peter Sacks

Consider the students in your office today. Which ones could you single out as not being eligible for higher education?

Debt Zapper

Student loan debt has surpassed total credit card debt in the United States, reaching more than $1 trillion this year. That’s trillion with twelve zeroes. Student debt is a recurring topic here, so these 10 Tips for Zapping Student Loan Debt may be worth a look.

More on the student debt challenge:

Presidential Agenda

Student Debt: No new car, caviar, four star daydream

Student Debt continued: Still no caviar

Student loans of interest

It’s not only a national debt crisis

Money, money, money… Must be funny…

Presidential Agenda

My university named a new president last week and I was excited to learn that he has goals similar to mine in the area of decreasing student debt. This is a topic that is of great interest for me as I counsel first-generation college students, many of whom borrow large amounts of money through federal, institutional and private sources to meet expenses. As we reside in a state where 85 percent of the state’s need-based grants support students enrolled in private, not-for-profit colleges with only 6 percent supporting students enrolled in public colleges and universities, change will not be easy

It’s increasingly difficult for the middle class to afford a high-quality public education. That’s a huge concern of mine. Our long-term goal would be that any qualified Iowan could graduate debt free. That’s the direction we want to be going.  ~Steven Leath, president-elect

More on the student debt challenge:

Student Debt: No new car, caviar, four star daydream

Student Debt continued: Still no caviar

Student loans of interest

It’s not only a national debt crisis

Money, money, money… Must be funny…

Money, money, money… Must be funny…

In the 2009 fiscal year, the default rate on student loans climbed from 7 percent to 8.8 percent, over the previous fiscal year, according to a U.S. Department of Education report released today.

Of the 3.6 million student-loan borrowers whose first repayment period was between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2009, about 320,000 people defaulted before September 30, 2010.

You can review information on the national student loan default rate and rates for individual schools, states, and types of institutions at the Federal Student Aid Data Center.

It’s not only a national debt crisis

Helping students understand how to effectively manage student loan debt is a bit of a project for me. I spend much of my professional work counseling first-generation college students, most of whom have high financial need. I have shared my views on the student debt crisis here, here, and here.

Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus present some excellent alternative plans for lowering student costs in higher education by encouraging students to choose community colleges and state institutions.  And although I disagree with their portrayal of unscrupulous financial aid officers when describing the individuals at my own institution, I do not doubt that they are out there.

The next subprime crisis will come from defaults on student debts, starting with for-profit colleges and rising to the Ivy League. The parallels with housing are striking. In both, the written warnings aren’t understood, especially on penalties and interest rates. And in both, it’s assumed that what’s being bought will rise in value, in one case the real estate, in the other the salaries which will accrue with a degree. One bubble has burst; the second is already losing air.

Treating students like an ATM machine

Inside Higher Ed posted another feature on the prospect of eliminating subsidized student loans and their relation to the federal deficit. Is there sense in using students seeking higher education as a revenue generating source for the federal government? Shouldn’t we all strongly object to shifting funds from student aid toward deficit reduction?

The federal government is making a lot of money on students and on parents. There’s a risk of almost treating students like an ATM machine.  ~Becky Timmons, assistant vice president for government relations, American Council on Education