A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College

Discussion in 'Financial Cents' started by melbo, May 13, 2012.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Kelsey Griffith graduates on Sunday from Ohio Northern University. To start paying off her $120,000 in student debt, she is already working two restaurant jobs and will soon give up her apartment here to live with her parents. Her mother, who co-signed on the loans, is taking out a life insurance policy on her daughter.


    “If anything ever happened, God forbid, that is my debt also,” said Ms. Griffith’s mother, Marlene Griffith.
  2. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    The whole financial aide system contributes to these soaring costs. There is no incentive for colleges and universities to adapt fiscally conservative practices. the students will continue to show up on their doorsteps, financial packages in place. My oldest granddaughter just finished her freshman year in a private college. She's fortunate that she had scholarships and grants, combined with a job, so her 1st year debt is only around $3000. But in no way do I think she got $52,000 worth of education in the past 8 months. Before she signed the financial documents, I spent a good deal of time going over them with her and emphasizing that pass or fail, she would still have that debt but with failure, her earning ability to repay it would be diminished. That is a good thing for these young people to remember. Of course, when she graduates, she has a grandmother who will at least help repay the loans but she doesn't have to know that yet.
  3. STANGF150

    STANGF150 Knowledge Seeker



    Thank You for doing the best possible job in helping raise your Grandchildren to be what so few are these days. Decent, Responsible Intelligent Young Adults. Not the whiney lil "I Deserve It" brats that never grow up.
    jollyrodger13 likes this.
  4. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Add the rough job market for non-specialized fields and its a recipe for disaster. I see a lot of well educated servers and bartenders...

    No chance of ever repaying once the interest grace periods expire.
    tulianr likes this.
  5. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    That's the pity of it melbo. I am a big advocate for college educations because I feel they help round out a person and give them an opportunity to "grow up" but with that said, when my pipe is clogged, I want a plumber, not an MBA. One of my clients is a plumbing, electrical, HVAC contractor and his people all earn in excess of $100K at $48 - $50 an hour straight time. Believe me, they earn their wage (think being called out to haul a pump from a well in 5 degree weather and unclogging toilets) but it's a good wage nonetheless. Would they earn as much working at one of the omnipresent insurance companies in CT? Not for many, many years, if ever
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    This is EXACTLY what is wrong with the Higher Education System in our country. Our Liberal Educators have been teaching Philosophy, NOT Revenue generating SkillSets. There are only so many Liberal Arts Jobs, that actually produce a product, or a service, that is in the Private Sector. All the rest are non-revenue producing .Gov Jobs, that produce very little except Hot Air, and Bovine Excrement. Many of the Technical SkillSets produce good Income, and do REQUIRE training in the SkillSet. You almost NEVER hear of a Plumber, Electrician, Machinist, Equipment Operator, or other Skilled Employee, unemployed for any significant length of time. Oh they will go thru Cycles, but if they need to, they can move to where those SkillSets, are needed and find employment. Many in the Housing Biz are hurting, because of the Housing Bubble burst, but those same SkillSets, can be used in Many other Industries, elsewhere in the country. My Grandfather was a Master Plumber, during the Depression. He always could find work, just not in SaltLake City, where he lived. He would contract to do Jobs in LA, where there was a Massive Building boom ongoing. He NEVER lacked for work, until he was forced to reTire, due to a Stroke. Our own Colt Carbine is a GOOD Example of this. He was out of work for a while this Spring, and taught Apprenticeship Programs, as well as take a few programs to expand his SkillSets, until a JOB came Open at his Union Hall. Now he is making up for those months, working his A** Off and has little time to spend here on the Monkey. Ms. Sunshine assures "Me" he is is still Alive, and Well, and enjoying his work.
    If you want a "Good Job" put yourself in a place where SkillSets are valued, and you will have a much better chance at the American Dream. Not many Diesel Mechanics unemployed these days. Especially if they are Good Diesel Mechanics. ...... YMMV.....
  7. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Several issues going on here:

    #1. Choice of school.

    (From the ONU website): Ohio Northern is a private, comprehensive University, comprising five colleges (Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Pharmacy and Law) that blend liberal and professional education.

    Nothing wrong with private schools.....IF you can afford them. To go $120k in hock is a clear message you can't, and shouldn't be going there.
    The average tuition at ONU (2010-11 and depends on the degree area ) is around 25k/yr.

    (From Wikipedia on Ohio public universities )

    Tuition for full-time, Ohio residents attending Ohio State for the 2010–2011 academic year is $9,420.[35] For the 2006–2007 academic year, tuition at Ohio State for Ohio residents placed it as the fifth most expensive public university and slightly beneath the weighted average tuition of $8,553 among Ohio's thirteen public four-year universities.

    That's $15,000 CHEAPER per year.......or $60,000 over 4 years of that 120k debt.

    Does ANYONE really think a hunk of paper from ONU is worth 66k MORE (plus a bunch of interest ) than one of 13 public universities in Ohio ??

    I mean, if you get a degree as a pharmacist from ONU, or one from Ohio State, is Walgreens gonna pay you one dime more for the ONU degree ?

    I think not.

    So the lesson of #1 is GET REAL......going to college ( or not ) isn't a Jimmy Stewart movie......it's a dadgum business decision. And should be treated as such. And if the kid doesn't realize that, the parent SHOULD.

    And as an extension to that:

    ALL degrees require a certain number semester/quarter hours.


    I took CLEP ( college level exam program.....it's probably still around ) tests while still in the army, and they paid for the test. I got almost a year of basic, BS courses out of the way by simply testing out......US history, for example.....I picked up a couple volumes of US history out of the base library, boned up, then took the test. Bingo....one year of US history I didn't have to sit through on my degree, plus books.

    Community colleges.....more wide spread than ever. Often you can knock out the first two years of a 4 year degree CHEAP. In Tennessee, maintain a B average in high school, and the state pays your tution/books through the lottery scholarship.

    LOAD UP on classes. When I went, it was on quarter hour system, and "full time" tuition was 12 freaking hours.....four 3 hour classes. Max load without a wavier was 21 hours/quarter. I figured out Day One that those hours past 12 were FREE.....and took 18 to 21 hours EVERY quarter.....while most of my classmates were taking 12-14 hours and screwing off as much as possible on parents dime.

    #2. See that part of the quote in bold ?

    There is a LOT OF THAT going on Kids are using loans to float a cushy lifestyle for several years and putting it on a "student loan credit card". What the heck is the average college kid doing with an apartment to even give up ? Live at home to start with. WHEN you get a J.O.B., you can then move out and start a life......NOT on borrowed money.

    I don't know IF that applies to this situation or not, but there is a WHOLE DADGUM LOT of it going around.....beer and pizza and good times going on the "credit card" simply because kids are idiots for the most part, and the credit it out there. They simply don't realize they are signing up for a lifetime of indentured servitude to the banksters for a few years of frolic and often, a worthless piece of paper.

    #3. PAY as you go. I started college in 1969, at Virginia Tech. They ate my lunch, and sent me packing......to the US Army. While in the army from 1970-75, I took some courses through the Un. of Maryland, Europe, and those CLEP tests. Came to our present location in East TN, mainly to attend East TN State U, and between working construction, the GI Bill, a wife that worked full time, and going full time only in the winter quarter ( rest of the year it was part time or full time with a lot of night classes ), I got done in 6 years.....followed by a master's in 4 more years. ( And except as a 6 year stint as a public school teacher, I've never had a need for my papers. Always worked construction, mostly my own business )

    Wife stated part time, then full time a couple years after me, finished in 1982, got her master's in 85 when I did, and did her PhD in early 90's. Those last two degrees while working full time. She just retired from public school system after 31 years.

    We never borrowed a dime, nor got an parent money, nor got any scholarships. Only thing I DID get was the GI Bill, which did pay most of my tuition/books.

    Was college cheaper then ? Sure. BUT so were wages. Minimum wage was in the 3 buck range.
  8. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member


    Funny but the way it worked for my granddaughter is that after the scholarships and grants, it was cheaper for her to go to the private school than to Univ of CT. she would have saved housing and meals but for this particular child, it was important that she be encouraged to spread her wings and it would not have happened living at home and commuting.

    But, I agree with everything you mentioned
  9. mysterymet

    mysterymet Monkey+++

    The thing is people have to realize that not all kids are college material. This country needs people in skilled trades. I'd much rather my kids become machinists or electricians than liberal arts majors. If they go to college it will be for useful majors only otherwise I won't pay or cosign.
  10. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    two of my kids recieved full ride scholarships (books, tution, housing and food)... the third was up for a scholarship when he decided to join the military... with $120,000.00 in scholarships when he gets out.... you can attend college with out paying a dime... if you plan and work hard...

    on the otherhand... at my institution students have takenn out loans with no intent to pay them off (they are living on obama's dollar) and have used the $$ to buy a new car...
  11. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    As others have pointed out, what someone studies helps to determine how quickly they can (or cannot) pay off that student debt. I myself have one of those college students who insists upon majoring in Cultural Anthropology. When I asked my son what sort of job prospects there were for such a field of study, he replied, "None really, unless you land some sort of teaching job."

    However, he works and pays his own bills and his own tuition, so all I can do is wish him good luck in his endeavors.

    Here is an article that helps to highlight the fact that not just any degree is the fast track to riches:

    More People With PhDs Going on Food Stamps - Number of advanced degree holders on public assistance doubles

    Melissa Bruninga Matteau has a PhD in medieval history, and a job as an adjunct professor, but she's still relying on food stamps and Medicaid to get by. "I am not a welfare queen," she tells the Chronicle of Higher Education. But with take home pay of only $900 a month—of which $750 goes to rent—she's only scraping by. And she's not alone. The number of people with graduate degrees who receive federal aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.

    To be sure, the lion's share of the 44 million people receiving public aid in 2010 was less educated. But the number of advanced degree holders on the rolls has been skyrocketing, from 101,682 to 293,029 for people with their master degree, and from 9,776 to 33,655 for those with PhDs—and groups representing adjunct faculty suspect those numbers are under-reported. "It's gone beyond the joke of impoverished grad students to becoming something really dire and urgent," says one academic career counselor.
  12. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    The question remains. How many PhDs does it take to staff a Waste Management compactor truck or fill Wally World greeter uniforms?
    melbo and Tracy like this.
  13. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Road to ruin or road to run.

    Skillsets of young adults vary and are based on the parents desire to teach their kids the basics.

    My knowledge that there was no free ride to a school, any school, solved most of the planning for "after" high school.

    Off to the Mil and get all the Tech schools they can provide and do "by mail" courses that fit my skill sets and planned employment when I completed my hitch.

    Then years of a class here and a class there till the first two years was out of the way. All the time making more money than many "Papered" folks.

    On to a State school, not the type that some of my high school peers did time in but a real Class "A" Brick and Ivy affair.

    Checked on "loans", blew that off real quick. I found that my Employers would cover the cost as long a B or better. So I went that route.

    Latter, as I wanted to go full time, I found the State had a little known "ACT/Law" that would cover up to 150 hours. All I had to do was educate the University of the unknown, to them, program.

    My total cost for a BS was ZERO.

    All because I checked on what was "out there".

    It's never a good idea to give a kid the easy way out.

    tulianr likes this.
  14. Mudinyeri

    Mudinyeri Monkey+

    I did three years in the Army and another four in the Reserves and worked a full-time job concurrent with the four years in the Reseves and four years in college. Not a penny of student loans.

    There's more than one way to skin a cat.
    Yard Dart, tulianr and Sapper John like this.
  15. Several things I tell people who are getting out of high school and seeking college:

    1. If you don't know what you want to do in life, don't go to college. You're better off working for a while and researching carefully your options. You're not a loser if you don't go to college. There are trades you can learn and technical training as well. America is hurting for people skilled in the trades. You cannot outsource a plumber or a carpenter.

    2. If you're going to college, look close to home for college programs. Don't try to go all across the nation for programs you cannot afford. In state tuition beats out of state tuition any day of the week.

    3. Take your core courses at a community college and then transfer them to a 4 year college. Also look at taking CLEP exams for college credit in order to clear up some more core college credits. If you pass the CLEP exams, you get college credit and can move on to something else. Saves a lot of money and time.

    4. Don't get some useless degree in the humanities. Anything that sounds like its in the realm of basketweaving needs to be avoided. Too many people have debt and are saddled with useless degrees in art or theater or sports or women's studies. Get a degree you can actually eat off of. Save the theater and art for hobbies.

    5. Stay away from for profit schools. They are churning out sub par graduates and are just profit minded.

    6. The military still is an option in order to pay for college.

    College is not a silver bullet to success. And college is not for everyone.
    Tracy, overbore, tulianr and 3 others like this.
  16. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    Tracy likes this.
  17. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Unfortunately, Trade/Vocational schools or Apprenticeships do not seem to be a viable option these days within the high schools around here. All they seem to push is going to college as the only option. Some day society will be full of educated idiots that do not know how to put a wrench on a bolt. [monkeyeating]
    Guit_fishN, Tracy, STANGF150 and 5 others like this.
  18. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama Monkey++

    A good friend of mine pays 4000$ per semester for his boy to attent "UAB" one of the best schools in the world. He lives at home and works part time.

    The real expenses come in when you rent apartments, buy a new car, live a high lifestyle, and dont worry about doing any work for money because your going to school.
  19. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Same thing around here. We have tried every vocational trade school and community college with a machine trade program within a 50 miles radius in an effort to start an apprenticeship program. No luck. Most of the schools have dismantled their machine shops and sold their equipment. It seems the liability is too great! We have hired many green 18 year olds and trained them. Two of those guys, at 23 and 24, are now foremen.
  20. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

    Reading those articles and posts remind me so much of high school. A great friend of mine used to talk about being a film director as soon as he graduated college, any time he was over he would tell us all about how he would make 300K/ year as soon as he graduated. My dad would try so hard to tell him the real world isn't like that but he wouldn't listen. A few of us joined the military, after my 4 years I went into commercial heating and air. Out of that group of 8 friends from high school, 3 of us own homes and have families, 3 of the others with college degrees still live in studio apartments in downtown Chicago scraping by- all buried in college loans.

    I think the most important lesson as already mentioned is finding something that is actually needed. Everyone used to tell us in high school how important it is to really enjoy what you do for work, then you will never work a day in your life. I said that to my dad and he looked at me, chuckled, and said that's the dumbest advice he has every heard. His advice was this: find something you don't hate doing, something you can at a minimum tolerate, and be sure it's something that allows growth and is always needed. I chose heating and air. My younger sister wanted to teach, when she said "music or art class" Dad's replay was that's the first thing to get cut with budgets, and sure enough after 1 year working she was cut due to budgets.

    ETA: This wasn't meant to sound like I'm bagging on college degrees, one sister has a masters in nutrition and my brother has a masters in something computer related (really no clue other on that one)- both do very well for themselves and are not saddled with debt because they chose to stay in-state at reasonably priced schools. In fact, my brother's tuition when he started in '94 was around 4K/yr, my sister's at the same school 9 years later was around $6500/ yr and both had partial scholarships. The reason for 2 of my friends' debts are simple: they HAD to go to out of state schools where they paid 20K+ per year in tuition alone. Very easy to have 100K in debt and only have a Bachelor's Degree.
    mysterymet and RightHand like this.
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