Americans Are Losing Faith in the Value of College. Whose Fault Is That?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Dustin, Sep 11, 2023.

  1. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    The TLDR is that the price of college has risen too high for students to see it as a good investment. That is probably a confluence of factors including the easy access to government-backed student loans and the sharp decrease in state and federal funding of universities since the 1980s, combined with the number of students who don't graduate.

    Interestingly I saw this, "In Canada and Japan, public-university tuition is now about $5,000 a year. In Italy, Spain and Israel, it’s about $2,000. In France, Denmark and Germany, it’s essentially zero" This is inaccurate. When I was attending a B&M university in 2016, the tuition was closer to $7,000.

    York University today is between $7K and $12K:

    University of Saskatchewan: A little over $7K for 30 credits per year:

    Athabasca University: $8400 for 30 credits per year for Alberta residents:

    Perhaps only Quebec has tuition as low as $5K per year.

    This is the Gell-Mann amnesia, where I can't know if the rest of the article is accurate because I've landed on this inaccurate information but I'm going to trust it anyway.
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  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    The New York Times is a longitudinal study of the pervasiveness of Gell-Mann Amnesia.

    Anyway, you all know how I've said over and over that schools should be evaluated on their own merits rather as part of a group? Well, the group that makes the very least sense is lumping all of higher education together as if it were some sort of unit, and that's what's happening here.

    The bottom line is this: anyone who says that "college costs too much" just doesn't know where to shop. Want to get that Bachelor's degree box checked? Sure, we OGs at DI know that you can figure out the Big Three if you're really cost conscious, but nowadays if you're starting from scratch there's no real need for that. Just do the Speedway program at Southern Utah University. It's just nine grand, stem to stern. If you're Pell eligible, you may end up paying nothing at all. If you're not, then repaying nine grand in student loans over ten years will hit your budget about as hard as your bill for Internet service.

    And if you can't find positive ROI on that over your whole lifetime, sorry, but that's on you.
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  3. freeloader

    freeloader Member

    The statistics quoted line up perfectly with those from this article:

    Regarding Canada, the information is from Statistics Canada, a national agency of the Canadian government. However, despite the article being dated 2023, the Canada statistics are for the 2019-2020 school year.

    I think your criticism of the Times article is a bit strong, but I readily acknowledge that it isn’t a good luck to be referencing a decline in college attendance in the United States which is linked in part to the pandemic and the associated/following inflation when you are citing pre-pandemic statistics for Canada (and presumably other countries) in comparison.
    Dustin likes this.
  4. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    That is true for those of us on this board but I see the information asymmetry as a threat to college attendance in general. I used to be one of those people who thought ITT Tech was a good deal! And in the 90s I got emails for life experience degrees that seemed perfectly rational to the uniformed consumer I was.

    Thanks for the info. Despite being Canadian, I had forgotten about the currency conversion. Still, those numbers seem very low based on the actual tuition I paid. I'm wondering if those tuition numbers exclude ancillary fees or other non-tuition but mandatory items.
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  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I get that, I too have learned many things here that I never would have elsewhere. But you'd think that a straightforward way to save, like, $100,000 would eventually seep its way into popular recognition! o_O
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I could not agree with this more.

    Almost everyone--except pundits--who put down higher education seem to not have one themselves.

    In doing my BS in Business, I had a little help with tuition assistance, paid some out of pocket, and took out no loans. I'd say my expenses back then were around $500. Adjusted for inflation that would be about $2K today. Heck, let's double it because academic inflation is high. Could you do a degree like I did for four grand? Sure, depending on your circumstances. (Everyone's life depends on some circumstances, right?)

    My BA was even less, costing around $100 back then or $400 today.

    And no, nothing unique about me. In fact, we had a Gang of Five back at Hanscom AFB, all of whom were sergeants and who did their degrees with Regents (now Excelsior). We all retired as officers. The ROI was off the charts.
  7. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    Yes, you would think that. Still, I fear that students who are straight out of high school would often not succeed in these alternative programs, but I may be wrong.

    I believe that in addition to the individual's view of the problem, there is also a macro-economic side.
    It's in the last paragraph of that article:
    I have no idea how accurate that $1.2 trillion number is. However, it is not unreasonable to think that fewer people with a college degree also lead to lower productivity in the overall economy.
  8. cacoleman1983

    cacoleman1983 Well-Known Member

    Colleges need to stop charging so much and student loans need to stop lending to everyone at such high rates. Another problem is that you can't even discharge student loans in bankruptcy. The system is set up to create debt slaves that never ultimately pay off their student loan debts. Those who do often either find loopholes or come from upper-middle to elite working-class families. As someone who loves higher education, you will never find me getting a student loan as the ROI and the long-term costs wouldn't be worth it. I strongly recommend trade schools and/or community colleges over universities for those in the bottom 50% of the economic class. Only go higher than this if you have grants, scholarships, a job, and/or veteran benefits sponsoring your education.
    Dustin likes this.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I'm 64. I took my last student loan in 2001. Despite a solid payment history and 32 years of public service, I still have a substantial balance and pay hundreds of dollars each month. I project that I will have them paid off somewhere in my early 90s.

    I don't regret borrowing it. Ever.
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  10. MasterChief

    MasterChief Member

    I hate the predatory terms of student loans and I've encouraged others to pay them off ASAP. Personally, I've maximized my military, federal, and state benefits to minimize my borrowing. I took advantage of discounted tuition and will admit to downloading college textbooks from questionably sketchy sources...Like you, I have zero regret obtaining a student loan. With me, I planned a budget to pay off my student loans before borrowing. Rich, I enjoy reading your contributions and finding myself agreeing with you 99.9% of the time. I just don't think I could "settle" with ANY kind of debt going into my 90's (I'm 55). Understand your circumstances and priorities are different than mine.
    Dustin likes this.
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I leveraged my loans into an education, then leveraged that into a career, the benefits of which make the monthly payment seem insignificant. Let's just say I'm more interested in how much longer I have to pay off my car loans.
    MasterChief likes this.
  12. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Well, how useful IS a liberal arts B.A.?
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Of that gang of 5 sergeants who became officers with their Regents degrees, four of them earned either a B.A. or B.S. in Liberal Arts. The only one with something else, me (Business), also had one. Each of us earned Air Force commissions based on those degrees. Pretty useful, I'd say.

    Another good use: getting into grad school and specializing in what you want to become.
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  14. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I did the same in the Navy but they're pickier now.
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  15. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    And your undergrad degree was useful - to get into law school, right? Seems to me the widely ballyhooed low utility of liberal arts degrees isn't all it's cracked up to be -- at least sometimes.
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  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Supply and demand. Our gang was commissioned during the Reagan-era build-up in the early '80s. And it's why so many of use retired soon after Desert Storm. We were, uh, "encouraged" to.

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