Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wall Street's 99 Percent Took Out Too Much Student Loan Debt

Ezra Klein gives it the old college try, but I'm not buying it. See: "Who are the 99 percent?" (via Memeorandum):
College debt shows up a lot in these stories, actually. It’s more insistently present than housing debt, or even unemployment. That might speak to the fact that the protests tilt towards the young. But it also speaks, I think, to the fact that college debt represents a special sort of betrayal. We told you that the way to get ahead in America was to get educated. You did it. And now you find yourself in the same place, but buried under debt. You were lied to.
I don't think so. Scroll down at the website, "WE ARE THE 99 PERCENT." I honestly don't know what people expect? What are they thinking? They attend college, perhaps for a Bachelor's degree, and graduate with $100 thousand in student loans? That's gotta be the definition of insanity. I graduated with a Bachelor's of Political Science at the age of 30 with no debt. None. Zero. Nothing. My first year of graduate school I continued working part time on Saturdays for extra income. That allowed me to borrow less that I could have in federal student loans. Then by the second year of the program I won a four-year fellowship that paid for tuition along with a stipend and teaching employment (guaranteed two TA assignments per year). I quit my part time job to attend my studies. I graduated with my Ph.D. with about $60 thousand in loans. I've been paying them down ever since. It was a good investment. But I would've never taken out that kind of money for a Bachelor's. These young people haven't been betrayed by the poor economy. They've been lied to and ripped off by all the people who told them they could borrow their way through undergraduate college rather than pay their own way.

Added: From Bruce Kesler, at Maggie's Farm, "Tea Partiers Against The Biggees, Wall Street Protesters Want To Be Biggees."


Joshua said...

Assuming you got your bachelors from a 4-year institution (I think that's a safe assumption), the chart here ( shows how much more you'd be paying now. Below, I've broken it down to show the cost of attending an institution in either 1980 or 1990 as a percentage of the cost of attendance in 2009-10.

All Institutions 1980: 41.3%
All Institutions 1990: 58.0%
Private Institutions 1980: 42.6%
Private Institutions 1990: 65.3%
Public Institutions 1980: 42.5%
Private Institutions 1990: 56.5%

Given the rapid increase in college tuition, would you care to explain either: (a) how you personally would have managed to "graduate[] with a bachelor's in Political Science at the age of 30 with no debt. None. Zero. Nothing."; or (b) how it is that anyone could be expected to graduate from a four-year institution with a bachelor's degree without a significant amount of debt at today's tuition prices?

Finally, given that getting a bachelor's degree from a private university without debt is, for all intents and purposes, impossible (short of a full scholarship or a trust fund), do you recommend that: young people today not go to college at all (unless they are in one of the groups mentioned above); that everyone attend state universities, which would obviously require increasing significantly the amount of subsidies available to in-state students; or that we all find magical unicorns to provide low-cost college education?

Dennis said...

A lot of us worked and went to college at the same time. It took us a little longer, but we graduated and had far less debt. Some people went into the military and earned GI Bill for college or used tuition assistance.
There are a thousand ways to get assistance if one is not to lazy to get up off their butts and do the research.
I finished both an undergraduate and graduate degree will working. I studied on buses, trains, airplanes, motel rooms, in libraries late at night, in computer rooms, et al. Wherever I could find the space and time. My family was poor enough that they could not afford to pay my tuition so I had to work for it.
If you want it bad enough you will find a way to make it happens. Otherwise quit your whining.

Unknown said...

Yes, we should be questioning why tuition has outpaced inflation, but we still have to take responsibility for loans we voluntarily entered into.
Personally, I do recommend that students not attend a school they can't afford. Maybe the schools would lower tuition if everyone was not so willing to pay it.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Dennis.

I just am amazed at how much money people borrow. Borrowing is okay, as it's an investment. But one has to consider how they're going to pay it back. And yes, we worked as studied at the same time. When folks say "I worked my way through college," that means they attended college while generally working full time to pay for it.

Joshua said...

No response? No stories about how these spoiled trust-fund babies should stop their protesting and just go out and get jobs (which aren't there)? No stories about how they should pick themselves up by their bootstraps (if they have them), go out and get a job paying $40k with crappy health insurance, and manage to find a way to make ends meet given their loan payments and (god forbid) medical bills?

Oh I know. The FREE MARKET will provide it all for them. The FREE MARKET will make college affordable. The FREE MARKET will fix the health insurance system because then "consumers" (not patients) can choose which medical procedures they need and which they don't, just like when they go to the store. After all, they didn't go into all that debt getting an education for nothing! And who cares if they can only afford one of two procedures their doctor recommends, I bet in your day you used your super work ethic to just get another job or fellowship to pay those bills right?

Joshua said...

I apologize, I didn't see the comments that followed my initial post.

Nobody has responded to my initial point by the way. Should kids not go to school? Is it really possible to work enough to pay the almost $40k in tuition for a private university? And again, if you want to suggest everyone should go to state schools, then surely you must be prepared to advocate greater government spending on those schools?

Dennis said...

Too many people want to go to what they think is a prestigious school and will put themselves in debt. There are large numbers of community colleges that do an excellent job of preparing one to first find out whether they are ready for the academic environment and all that is required and giving one a chance to ascertain just exactly what field of endeavor is where they are meant to matriculate.
There are many very good technical colleges that are available. Not everyone is going to succeed as a CEO, lawyer, et al. Because one graduates from a technical college does not mean one does not have the wherewithal to become a great leader.
We all take different paths on our road to bettering ourselves. How many people who graduate high school are truly mature enough to make the most of being in college? Most are not.
One must remember it is the education and what one learns that is important, not the degree. The degree just gets one in the door. After that, in most cases, it is a matter of how one uses the tools gained in their lives.
Once one recognizes what is causing the rise in tuition, as a matter of fact for everything else, one sees that there are a number of ways to mitigate and/or reverse those trends.
Whining about things, no matter how sophisticate one might believe that whining is, demonstrate a lack of intellectual laziness and a certain lack of real desire.
Two of my granddaughters and going to community colleges or are preparing to go. Both work at a country club as waitresses and bar-tending. They put money aside to help defray their costs. Both want to prove that they can do it own their own. We could help, but I respect their need to be self actualizing. Too bad Joshua seems not to display the same sense of purpose.

Dennis said...

I have the distinct feeling that no matter how many ideas one gives to Joshua, and people like him, he will never take any of them or the responsibility required to set goals and achieve them.
It will be just one "straw man" argument after another. I have to admit one is not going to get am "ain't it awful" from me. Education and life is what you make of it. One either accepts the challenges or one runs away.

Dennis said...

The truly sad part here is that literally thousands of blue collar jobs like carpenter, plumber, et al go unfilled because the trades are no longer taught in schools and we as a society have been taught that they are some how of lessor importance. Just who is going to fix, maintain and ensure things work? These professions pay good money, part of which might even be used to pay for a college education, and should never be looked down on because they are in many ways more important than many college degrees.
The old question as to who did more to improve health in this country, the garbage man of doctors is important. Without the waste management professionals disease would be running rampant and doctors would be spending their time chasing symptoms instead of cures.
There are literally thousands of opportunities for those who wish to improve their life instead of whining. At what point do we finally recognize that whining solves nothing. The future belongs to those who find the solutions to the challenges placed before them, NOT the whiners.