Let's Fix This Country

For-Profit Colleges – A National Disgrace »

Ripping off the younger generation Oct 5 2012 Update: October 21: Citing declining applicants, the Univesity of Phoenix will close 115 physical locations, 25 of them main campuses. Growing revelations in the media, such as the article that follows, have made the public aware of Phoenix's and other "universities'" aggressive recruiting, and poor post-grad employment that leaves alumni deep in unpayable debt.

The reputation of American universities, long viewed as the best in the world, is being befouled by the cancerous growth of for-profit colleges that saddle students with crushing debt in return for very little of marketable skills.

At a time when our youth are told that a college education is indispensable to their hope of ever finding a job, the for-profit colleges pursue the young like gulls following fishing trawlers, encouraging them to take on debt they cannot afford to pay. This predation takes the form of eating our young.

The schools do not issue that debt; they just cash the checks, which is what has caused a stampede to create some 2,000 colleges that now account for 13% of all students, up from 3% ten years ago, most by large corporations and even private equity and hedge funds. The loans — about 80% of them — are from the federal government. And if the student cannot pay? The U.S. taxpayer will eventually pick… Read More »


Why Are We Making a College Education Unaffordable? »

The endless rise in tuition threatens the nation’s future Feb 16 2012

If America is to compete successfully in the global economy, it must have a better educated workforce. One would expect we are doing everything possible to make a college education available universally.

Not quite. The federal government does much to make that happen — Pell grants, Perkins loans, Stafford loans — but does so in conflict with unrelenting tuition increases by our colleges and universities that pull in the opposite direction. Combined with a… Read More »

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Obama Seeks to Cut College Costs »

But government and the education industry love the money Sep 12 2013

His plan to attack the runaway cost of a college education sounded grand on its first hearing in a speech in late August, but it then came clear that President Obama must intend for it to never happen — or so a glance at its timetable indicates. The scheme would award more government funding to those institutions that deliver greater value to their students according to a national rating system that the government would develop. But the criteria making up

the ratings won’t even be decided until 2015, and his plan is to ask Congress to link them to student aid wouldn't take effect until 2018, after he has left office.

sticker shock

Over the last 30 years, the cost of a college education has risen by three times the rate of inflation while household income rose only 16%. The sticker price last year averaged $39,520 for private non-profit colleges and $17,860 for public colleges. The net cost of tuition, fees and room and board after financial aid and tax credits were deducted reached an average of $12,110 for in-state students at public four-year colleges and $23,840 at private non-profit institutions. In the last decade that has meant a rise from 23% of a median family’s income to 38%.

So students have had to borrow. Debt per student doubled over the last 15 years leaving the average student owing $26,000 on graduation day. A decade from now over 50% of them will still have outstanding loans when they enter their early 30s.

spending spree

Colleges have spent lavishly to… Read More »


How to Increase Prospects for Low-Income Kids »

And catch up with the rest of the world in the bargain Jan 30 2014

The commentariat is already calling the president a lame duck, as if deciding we should just drift for the remaining 1,000 days left in his second term. But when Barack Obama stepped to the podium for his fifth State of the Union address, he showed firm intent to get things done and, as expected, expressed his desire for fixing two key failings of America’s approach to education that sap the nation’s strength: lack of early education of pre-kindergarten (pre-K) kids and the poor job colleges do in finding gifted kids among the lower rungs of our society.


"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education", he said, asking Congress to "get this done". What gave the pre-K movement a boost was the release last fall of the international PISA scores. Every three years the Program for International Assessment tests 15-year-olds around the world in reading, math and science. The U.S. results were dismaying: 26th in math, 17th in reading, 21st in science.

Kids from affluent families score higher. The problem is with children of low income households who suffer from low exposure to language and learning from the moment they are ready to talk. Poorly educated parents pass along their own shortcomings. Early education… Read More »


What Have We Got Against Students? »

Sticking our young with 6.8% interest in a 1% interest world Jul 10 2013

At a time when the United States has slipped to second tier status in so many categories, a time when the nation desperately needs a better-educated workforce, why are we making it as difficult and costly as possible for students to get a college education?

A number of factors, not least of which is the rise of tuition charges by our irresponsible colleges, have created the crushing burden of debt borne by those who wanted a college education. Exacerbating the problem is a whopping 6.8% interest rate on Stafford loans imposed by Congress. That rate may have been defensible at the time, but the wise solons didn't think to build in flexibility to reflect fluctuations in the market place, so in the new era of 0% interest rates, students and grads are stuck with comparatively usurious interest charges.

Congress' solution was to cut the rate in half — to 3.4% — for two years running, and kick the can down the road. Once again, we've caught up with the can. The year has expired, and Congress went off for a their two week 4th of July vacation, allowing the rate to revert to 6.8% on July 1 for 7.4 million university students. Counting graduates and borrowers from other sources — commercial and government — the debt load has… Read More »