‘Financially Hobbled for Life’: The Elite Master’s Degrees That Don’t Pay Off

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Dustin, Jul 8, 2021.

  1. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    In the WSJ today:

    The article mostly focuses on MFA grads and mostly at Columbia, but includes some other data

    Yikes. Of concern is that if you take an Income-based Repayment (IBR) plan, at the end of your 20 or 25 years your debt is dismissed and although you pay taxes on that "benefit", the taxpayers eat the rest. So effectively the taxpayer is subsidizing Columbia's high tuition.

    I've considered going to Columbia's MPA myself, which is $60K. But $60K is not $300K.

    chrisjm18 likes this.
  2. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I'm assuming that you're only referring to the tuition for the MPA program. The tuition for the MFA program is not $300k. If you max out on loans and don't work while in school, this is what happens. There are people borrowing over $100k to attend Capella and Walden, and those are online programs with mostly students who work full-time.
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Expecting a quid pro quo for graduating from a university is often folly. There are a ton of law school graduates these days who would agree.
    Vonnegut and MiracleWhipz like this.
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    90% of all new J.D.s are in the same position. EDIT: Dr. Douglas beat me to it.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    The Columbia University's MFA total tuition and fees are $71,000.00. People who attend this kind of program are also taking out the loan for living expenses as well. If you consider living expenses in the student loans debt, then you should consider opportunity costs. Therefore, you can compare whether it worths the effort. I once considered Doctor of Engineering Science in Computer Science, but Columbia University's professors did not respond to my request for a research sponsor. The admission officers advised me to take two courses as non-program to connect with the professor before completing the admission. I realized it just a scam, two courses cost about $14,000.00 and admission is not guaranteed.
  6. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

    While you can certainly argue that Fed Student Liam programs are a subsidy for higher education, I’m not sure you could argue that the taxpayer eats the rest through graduates using IBR programs.
  7. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Unless I've misunderstood, when the loan amount is forgiven the cost of that is borne by the government who directly issued the loan (at least since 2010 according to the CBO link below), so the cost is paid by taxpayers. It looks like the CBO estimate is that for IBR loans the government is paying 16.9% of the loan amount, while standard loans make a "profit" of around 12.8% on the loan. (https://www.cbo.gov/publication/55968?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=812526&utm_campaign=0)

    I'm a huge fan of loan forgiveness and other ways of reducing tuition, no question, but it's not free.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  8. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    How would one argue that we don't?
  9. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    So far, the government has made a huge profit off of loans. The cases in which large amounts are typically forgiven are through fraud, school closures, bankruptcy, and disability. It's a myth that student loan debt can't be discharged through bankruptcy. So far, not much has been forgiven through IBR or the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program. If you're worried about what taxpayers have to pay for, look at the types of schools that usually close or scam students. Look at the schools that have high student loan default rates, and the government can't collect due to low earnings.
  10. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    How is that a myth? The Code still says student loans are non-dischargeable in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 doesn't it?
  11. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    You can file for an adversary proceeding citing hardship.

    Here's a paper discussing that and making the claim that about 25% of borrowers who pursue that are successful: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1894445

    And a response countering that, among other things the sample size (205 borrowers) was too small to be useful:

    I don't know who to believe.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    There's an undue hardship exception. Recent data says that people are successful about 50% of the time, but hardly anyone attempts to get their student loans discharged due to the belief that they can't. The Brunner Test, Totality of Circumstances Test, and other tests are used to determine if there's undue hardship.

    SteveFoerster likes this.
  13. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Hunh! Interesting!
  14. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

    With the changes from 2010, I don’t believe we have had anyone who has been on a traditional IBR plan that has reached the threshold of having the balance waived (transferred to tax payers). PSLF programs are a different story.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  15. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    100K for a Walden or Capella PhD is not a good business. If you add the opportunity cost that is the time invested to complete the degree, the amount can go to $200 or $300 K. Most Walden or Capella PhDs end teaching as adjuncts for $2K a gig, this is about 100 courses to recover you investment. If you teach about 2 x 5 courses a year, this is about 10 years to recover your investment.
    sanantone likes this.
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    That is based on a huge assumption. Walden and Capella graduates have been employing their degrees successfully for decades, and not as adjuncts. You can't back up your statement that "most Walden or Capella PhDs end (up) teaching as adjuncts." How do you know that? How about the fact that almost 100% of them are mid-career professionals who will use both the degree and the educative experience to enhance and promote their careers?
  17. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Back in 2016, the median salary for those who completed Capella's business doctoral programs was $90,000. I don't know if these people were already high earners, but even if they were, at least they're not economically disadvantaged people who are being taken advantage of. I suspect more low-income students major in education and counseling.

    I looked at the number of people who have graduated in 2019 from the business PhD program concentrations, and the numbers are surprisingly low for such a large school. The concentrations have single-digit graduation numbers. I'm going to take a look at the DBA program to see if the numbers are higher.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I was too strident in my reaction to RFValve's post, and I want to apologize. I also want to emphasize the point that people who attend schools like Walden and Capella tend to be mid-career professionals who are using the degrees to advance already successful careers. That is a far cry from some school enticing naive undergrads and fleecing them with high tuition, student loans, and no job prospects.

    As for them ending up as adjuncts, I still wonder about the evidence for that. Not that there aren't a lot of Capella and Walden grads adjuncting, but that doesn't really say much--except that it indicates a successful use of the degree.
    JoshD likes this.

Share This Page