When we read an article in Forbes with this title — “The Hoax of College” — we know that word is getting out.
We also know that word is not changing potential behavior, which borders on the suicidal.
It is a good article. Here are some gems.
As steadily as ivy creeps up the walls of its well-groomed campuses, the education industrial complex has cultivated the image of college as a sure-fire path to a life of social and economic privilege.
It then told of a pair of starry-eyed undergraduates.
By the time they graduated in 1995, the couple was $194,000 in debt. They eventually married and each landed a six-figure job. Yet even with Kellum moonlighting, they had to scrounge to come up with $145,000 in loan payments. With interest accruing at up to 12% a year, that whittled away only $21,000 in principal. Their remaining bill: $173,000 and counting.
Then they divorced. Each cites the struggle with law school debt as a major source of stress on their marriage. “Two people with this much debt just shouldn’t be together,” Kellum says.
It’s easy to get divorced. It’s almost impossible to get out of student debt.
The two disillusioned attorneys were victims of an unfolding education hoax on the middle class that’s just as insidious, and nearly as sweeping, as the housing debacle. The ingredients are strikingly similar, too: Misguided easy-money policies that are encouraging the masses to go into debt; a self-serving establishment trading in half-truths that exaggerate the value of its product; plus a Wall Street money machine dabbling in outright fraud as it foists unaffordable debt on the most vulnerable marks.
It’s possible to get a B.A. for about $13,000 and a law degree for $6,000. But you must do it online. I know two young people who are doing it. They are paying their own way.
But what about the statistic about $1,000,000 in extra lifetime earnings? It’s a con.
“I call it the million-dollar misunderstanding,” says Mark Schneider, vice president of the American Institutes for Research, of the prevailing propaganda.
Then there is the cost of servicing the debt.
Warped as the numbers are, they don’t begin to account for the hidden cost of higher education: financing it. Borrowing has doubled over the past decade, to roughly $85 billion in new student loans in the 2007–08 academic year, bringing total student debt owed to well over half a trillion dollars. The average borrower went $19,200 into debt for a diploma in 2004, a 58% increase after inflation since 1993, according to the Project on Student Debt.
Does any oif this change minds? No.
Lacking honest input, three-quarters of high schoolers still seek to go on to college, many deluded about the financial prospects it holds, says American Institutes for Research’s Schneider. “Part of the drive is the idea it pays,” he says. “We need somebody making more realistic statements about the risks.”
The risks are hefty. Half of students entering college never earn a degree. Six in ten African-Americans depart without one. “Hundreds of thousands of young people leave our higher education system unsuccessfully, burdened with large student loans that must be repaid, but without the benefit of the wages a college degree provides,” warned a 2004 Education Trust study.
The article is worth reading. I have given you only the highlights. If you are thinking of sending your child to college, you had better read it.
Click the link.