Another unemployed (on food stamps) PhD article.

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Koolcypher, May 10, 2012.

  1. jumbodog

    jumbodog New Member

    (1) I don't know where you got the 20K figure from. According to ASA the average undergraduate debt per borrower was 23K in 2008 and the total cumulative debt was 60K for phd students. Overall, 70% of all graduate students borrow money sometime in their college career with an average debt of 47K. It's quite the common myth that grad school is mostly scholarship funded. That's true for phd students in the hard sciences. But it's more rare in other fields. Overall, 45% of people in phd programs borrow. All stats from: Student Loan Debt Statistics - American Student Assistance

    One of the issues that these stats don't reveals, however, is the impact of interest. Many students will wind up paying twice what they borrow due to interest. This is especially true now that subsidized loans have been eliminated for graduate students. I detest that change with a passion because it makes school cost more without being honest about it up front.

    It's important to look at the system as a whole because as I suggested above it's a set of interlocking pieces. Cutting student loans is going after the root because in order to get the phd you need a college degree in the first palace. If you can't afford undergrad you can't get a degree and if you can't get a degree you can't even get into a phd program.

    (2) I agree which is why I qualified it with "all other things being equal." Because one can imagine a nightmare scenario when the whole thing spirals down the tubes. I don't think it's likely though provided it's managed properly.
  2. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    From the link that I included on the word "total" in my post. Here is the link again. The Chronicle happened to interview 72 adjuncts; the majority (38 of 72) had less than 20K of debt, as shown in the chart marked "Student Debt".

    I don't know where you get the 45 % figure from. According to the table in your link, only 35.4 % of people in PhD programs borrow for their graduate programs. I am reading from the "Debt Burdens of Graduate Students by Degree Program" table, 5th line up from the bottom (labelled "PhD") in the 2nd column from the left (labeled "Graduate Education Debt, Percent Borrowing").

    So according to your link, 64.6 % of people in PhD programs did not borrow for graduate school, and have zero graduate school loan debt. This seems consistent with my suggestion that "Most students who enroll in traditional, residential, B&M PhD programs don't rely on student loans."

    It's true that other types of graduate students often graduate with much higher levels of debt. However, I would suggest that that most aspiring professors do come from traditional, residential, B&M PhD programs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2012
  3. jumbodog

    jumbodog New Member

    The confusion lies in the vague usage of the terms "phd" and "doctoral" programs, which the ASA break out differently. In a technical sense, not everyone who has doctorate has a phd even though in common usage the two terms are used interchangeably. You're talking about 5th line up from the bottom "phd" and I'm talking about the 3rd line from the top "Doctoral programs".

    As I understand it, your main point is that the government's ability to influence the supply of phds is overstated because many if not most grad students don't have student loans. There are two points I would make. The first is that an adjunct has to pay off their total student loan burden not just the debt they accumulated in grad school. Using "phd" stat from ASA when undergraduate graduate debt is included student loan debt is at the 50% level. That's a significant enough percentage to qualify the government as a "market maker" in the supply of phds.

    The second point I would make is that averages can be misleading. The major problem with student loans is that it encourages the educational system to produce a good (a phd in medieval history) for which there is no corresponding market demand. The fact that some students in some degree fields don't have this problem (like chemistry) doesn't mean the system is functioning effectively. The true wickedness of the system is that it's the students with the least market power to pay off their loans who go deepest in debt. This is what we are seeing in the legal field today. The cost of a law degree hasn't gone down but the demand for a law degree has gone through the floor. So many lawyers are walking into their first job making less than a paralegal but with 90K in debt. That's not a failure with that person; that's a failure with the system.

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