May 20, 2010

Consuming Education

new sally By Sally Raskoff

PBS’s Frontline recently aired a story on for-profit educational institutions. Ten percent of all post-secondary students are enrolled in one of these relatively new types of institutions. A Los Angeles Times article notes that these for-profit schools offer classes at non-traditional times, offering flexible educational opportunities for people working full-time. Students in these schools receive over 25 percent of the federal financial aid awarded to college students, so not only is this an important education concern, but a public policy issue as well.

College students in all types of institutions are borrowing more money and ending up in more debt upon graduation than just a decade ago. Students in the for-profit colleges end up defaulting on their loans at higher rates than do students in the more traditional public or non-profit colleges.


Source: The Institute for College Access and Success

Why are students in so much more debt than in previous years?

We might surmise that in the past college was cheaper. According to College Board data, even adjusted for inflation, the cost of attending a four-year public institution has more than tripled in the past thirty years.

Fees and tuition have been increasing as public funding has decreased. Private donations and institutional endowments also took a hit during the recent recession. We could also consider the growth of for-profit colleges as a source of this cost increase, since they tend to cost much more than traditional colleges. Their students are more likely to be on financial aid and are less likely to pay the full tuition at the same time they take classes. However, that does not mean that those students are paying less for their classes since they are still liable for the loans.

The National Center for Education Statistics data on financial aid by type of college (Table 9) clearly shows that while they are not the most likely to be on financial aid, students at for-profit colleges are much more likely to have loans than students in other colleges. About 78 % receive loans at for-profit two-year schools, compared with 19 % at public two-year programs. Community college students are often eligible for financial aid yet don’t apply for it, perhaps because they don’t know they can. Staffing shortages mean that many financial aid offices are likely overburdened and understaffed. Students may find they have to navigate the process on their own, get frustrated, and give up. By contrast, for-profit schools make helping students apply for financial aid a high priority because without it the schools wouldn’t be able to stay in business. Perhaps if community college students knew more about their eligibility for financial aid they would be more likely to complete their degrees, as President Obama has encouraged.

Students have to borrow more money than they used to just to stay in school. With the current economic situation, students are less likely to have jobs to help pay for their education. The community college where I teach just finished our program review and our student survey results really surprised us: 52% of our students live with their parents and 40% are not employed. This is at an urban commuter community college campus, which traditionally has served a slightly older population of students than four-year residential campuses. When our campus recently updated our Educational Master Plan (a five-year plan for guiding us in making policy and budgets), our data clearly showed that our potential students often enrolled at the for-profit colleges in our region. This puzzled us since those colleges charge so much more money than we do, but it makes sense when you consider that it is possible for students to enroll in almost any class they wished at the for-profit school.

Since that time, our budget has been cut substantially, which means that we have had to cut classes. We have many fewer classes with much larger class sizes, and every semester we turn away more students than we enroll. Students may find it easier to enroll at for-profit institutions, but the Frontline report raised serious questions about the quality of education some students are getting at for-profit schools.

Some students reported being promised jobs in the health care industry, but when they later applied they were told that they didn't have the necessary training. Other news reports suggest that this is not an isolated incident, and some students have filed lawsuits against the schools they attended. These concerns about educational quality and students’ financial burdens have prompted President Obama to propose new regulations for financial aid at for-profit schools to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are used appropriately.

Consuming education has become an increasingly expensive endeavor. Economic decisions are taking priority over educational concerns in institutions around the country, whether it be reducing the number of classes offered at community colleges like mine, or offering classes that might serve shareholders needs more than students’ best interests at some for-profit programs. We now have a large portion of the population paying huge student loan bills; for many of these students the soft job market means they might not find a job that pays enough to cover their monthly payments. Why do you thing being educated in the twenty-first century is so much more expensive than in the past?


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I have enrolled at Saginaw Valley State University, the most inexpensively priced university in Michigan. It costs $6,900 per year just for tuition, although I am receiving financial aid. Although this is expensive compared to some community colleges, the tuition fees are actually quite feasible to pay without going into significant debt. SVSU was not my first choice school, though. Michigan State University, my dream school, costs about $23,000 (with room and board). At rates that high and virtually no financial aid offered...(I know...our valedictorian didn't even get a dime from them) could never pay for the fees without going into debt. I decided it was not worth it for me to sacrifice that much per year when I can support myself and remain virtually debt-free at a different [although less exciting] university. It burns me up to think of rising costs. Last year, it cost approximately $19,000 for a year at MSU, so that is a substancial increase! I think that the government should find some way of helping students still be able to afford the schools they dream of if they have worked hard enough to get there.

It is amazing how much the cost for college has increased. When my parents went to school it was almost half what it cost now. Now that it is my senior year year I have to try and think of how im going to pay for college without being in debt. I have found out that what I am going to do is go to a community college for my first year because what is the point in paying 200 dollars for a class at a university then paying 75 dollars at a comunity college. The classes that you have to take your freshman year all freshman have to take and the classes are teaching the same requirements and you are getting the same education (for less money). I think pepople are so worried about what school they graduate from because today graduating from a university like MSU is better then graduating from a community college.

Times have changed and so has the cost of college. College intuition is not that only thing that has rose in price. Everything that we have to buy has gone up in price and thats something we are just going to have to deal with. I agree with Kait and how she said that everyone is caught up in where they want to graduate from. I'm going to be a senior next year and i have been thinking about where i want to go to attend college. I'm not really sure what i want to major in yet, so i have decided that going to Lansing Community College would be the best college for me because i don't want to spend a lot of money on courses that i don't even know if i will like. People need to realize that going to a community college for their first 2 years would be okay and that its a smart decision especially if you cant afford to go to a huge university. Why get in debt when there are others ways to succeed through college without getting in thousands of dollars of debt?

I think that the cost of college has gone up primarily because people value education much more now than they used to. Even ten years ago, it was much easier to get a job or a career with only a high school diploma, but now it's not that easy. More people are going to college and furthering their education, and it costs universities and colleges more money in order to stay open. This is just my opinion, but I guess it makes sense that the cost of college is rising because universities need to take advantage of the people coming in and get as much money as they can get.

It is amazing how much money attending college costs these days. I am going to Michigan State University, and although my tuition is in-state, I still have to pay a considerable amount. It is sad that universities are so much money to attend, it really deters a lot of capable students from branching out of their own areas. I dont think that college should be so expensive, and I am not sure if education should be for-profit at all.

This article has really opened my eyes as to how many people are in the same position that I am in. I am going to Madonna University with a $20,000 scholarship, but it costs about $10,000 a year. Half of my tuition is paid for but there are still fee's to pay. I believe that college is too expensive along with everything else right now. I went to Germany for 3 weeks last year and learned that they do not have to pay anything to go to college and grades are not really a big deal out there. I believe that the United States should find a way to help pay for college or lower the price for everyone. I remember when I first started looking at tuition costs, it turned me away from a lot of good schools at first. I then went and talked to one of my teachers and she told me no matter how much it costs you cannot be discouraged. I then went back to looking at large University's, but ended up choosing a small private school that fits me perfectly.

I never noticed how much more expensive college is now than it was. It's hard for people because they can't afford college even though they want to go. It's inconvenient that some classes can't be offered because of the money. Some people would like to take those classes, but they can't. This article really opened my eyes.

It is shocking how much the cost of college has skyrocketed in past few decades. Students are now more focused on the best financial deal, rather than the quality of education. Even with a $70,000 merit scholarship, I will still have to pay nearly $18,000 per year for college. Students are being forced into getting enormous loans to pay for their education, and many students have no guarantee of employment after graduating. Colleges are being forced to cut classes and resources to save money, which worsens the quality of education for the students.

If education cost what it did in the old days, everyone would be going to college and getting degrees and we would be a much more intelligent country with fewer problems and everyone would belong to the middle, upper middle, or upper class. But we can’t have that now, can we? We want to be superior to other whether it is our military power, economy, or education level. If everyone was educated, it would become difficult for the government and organizations to scare us and control us.
We kind of talked about this in my sociology class. Not education costs being so high, but the concept of what less or under education people means. Our textbook talked about the U.S. having the highest proportion of college graduates than any other industrialized nation, at 29% (Schaefer, 2009). It also talked about only 64% of eligible voter voting in the 2004 presidential election. Having less people participate in politics allows the government to operate with less accountability. The less educated our citizens are, the less likely they are to be involved with politics and decision-making.

Schaefer, R. T. (2009). Sociology: a brief introduction. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill.

College is thw awy to excel in life , picking up the tab for better jobs ans better life goals is just part of it, yes school is getting higherto go, but so is everythingelse around us, paying off loans are good for credit scores anyway,the jobs are open use the tools to get the job

This article really showed me how for-profit schools work and the affects they can have on other schools. For-profit schools seem like a interesting concept and it's good to understand it better.

In this chapter, we learned about the education system that we have in the United States. We read about different types of schooling and different types of school systems. One of these was the for-profit schools. For-profit schools are schools run by private companies on government funds. People believe government is to ineffective in the educational area to improve the problems that schools face. That’s why in this system, private companies own the schools which allows them to make more improvements. As you said, these for-profit schools also have very adjustable schedules, which may make people look to shift to this even more. Thanks for the post, it was very helpful for my class!

I'm currently looking at colleges in my junior year of high school and I'm less scared for the schooling than I am about the large amount of money that I'm going to have come up with magically. College is so expensive but I think an education after high school is so important. Professionals are needed to keep the work world running and college is one of those life things that is needed.

This is such a good news for students who are incapable of going to college. These students' loans are beneficial for poor families.

I agree with you, Gibbon. Parents will be happy for this. Children who can't go to school due to financial problem can now study. Thank you so much for this great news.

Yes.This is a great opportunity that they need to grab.

It's a great idea that while students are in their college years, they are given chance to pay for their tuition and other fees by having loan in that school.This is the the great time for the less-privileged students to finish their studies.

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