The Great $1 Trillion University Funding Confidence Game
As this semester begins, college loans are nearing the $1 trillion mark, more than what all households owe on their credit cards. Fully two-thirds of our undergraduates have gone into debt, many from middle class families, who in the past paid for much of college from savings. The College Board likes to say that the average debt is "only" $27,650. What the Board doesn't say is that when personal circumstances go wrong, as can happen in a recession, interest, late payment penalties, and other charges can bring the tab up to $100,000. Those going on to graduate school, as upwards of half will, can end up facing twice that. _AtlanticUniversity presidents can collect salaries in the millions of dollars, university professors on sabbatical can be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars every few years for not teaching. Luxurious facilities are being built on expanding university campuses in the middle of an ongoing recession. And universities are bursting with "administrative bloat," a serious problem pushing higher education costs upward far above inflation rates.
A fact of academic life is that the tuition-debt nexus keeps most colleges going. At Loyola University in Chicago, 77 percent enroll with loans, as do 85 percent in New Hampshire's Franklin Pierce. At historically black colleges, where endowments are low and students are often poor, it's usually 90 percent. Nor is soaring private tuition the only reason. At public Kentucky State University, with only $6,210 in charges, 76 percent sign up for loans; so do 85 percent at the University of North Dakota, where state residents pay $6,934. What these figures suggest that borrowing is as much to finance living away from home as for bursars' bills. Books, travel, and socializing quickly add up. Room and board charges have doubled in actual dollars since 1982 to enhance campus life. Bowdoin's menu features vegetable polenta and butternut soup, while Penn State provides legal downloads of music numbering two million songs a week. But let's be clear. It's not the colleges which are paying for these and similar amenities. It's the students, mainly by borrowing, which the colleges actively encourage. _Atlantic
Where else do we see this type of irreversible bloat and skyrocketing costs? Oh, yes. In the public sector union arena. And would it surprise you to learn that university staff and faculty across the US are pushing for union representation and collective bargaining rights? Can you imagine the scam running up to $10 trillion a year, with a little union help?
Only in government, academia, and the media does one see such a total disconnect from the brutal realities of economic life in a recession. Such huge multi-trillion dollar debts could only be run up when these giant special interest groups cover for each other. It is a perfect storm of obfuscation and lead-up to massive ruination of ordinary lives.
The sacrifice and long term burdens and economic scars would perhaps be worth it to many young people and families -- if only the youth were receiving valuable training and preparation for life. Instead, as a rule, they are receiving an indoctrination into a dysfunctional ideology, rather than a worthwhile education. That is what makes the entire confidence game so completely destructive.