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Sun Nov 11, 2012, 12:51 PM

A beef with college education

I've been out of college for 30 years and things have changed, none more than the dollars and cents. When I started my senior year in a private college in Philly, tuition was $104/credit. That same school is now charging close to $1200/credit. Some schools haven't had quite as dramatic an increase but nearly everywhere I look college now costs 10 times what it did then.

Does anyone know what that money is paying for? It isn't teacher's salaries, they are up about 3 to 4 times what they were which probably is about fair or maybe a bit low. Are class sizes shrinking? If so, why? That number is tuition only, no registration fees, technology fees, lab fees, graduation fees, books, insurance or anything else. My college now charges for parking, $30/semester. When I went, I parked for free.

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Arrow 37 replies Author Time Post
Reply A beef with college education (Original post)
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 OP
raccoon Nov 2012 #1
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #2
riderinthestorm Nov 2012 #3
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #19
riderinthestorm Nov 2012 #23
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #24
MrsBrady Nov 2012 #4
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #13
Tobin S. Nov 2012 #5
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #12
noamnety Nov 2012 #6
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #11
Callalily Nov 2012 #7
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #9
noamnety Nov 2012 #31
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #33
caraher Nov 2012 #8
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #10
caraher Nov 2012 #25
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #27
barnabas63 Nov 2012 #14
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #15
Tobin S. Nov 2012 #18
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #20
Tobin S. Nov 2012 #22
caraher Nov 2012 #26
mrf901 Nov 2012 #16
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #17
barnabas63 Nov 2012 #21
Yavin4 Nov 2012 #28
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #29
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #30
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #32
HopeHoops Nov 2012 #34
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #35
Gidney N Cloyd Nov 2012 #36
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2012 #37

Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 01:27 PM

1. I don't know about private colleges, but for the state colleges, states have cut WAY back on how


much money they fund the colleges. Colleges have to make it up somewhere.

Add to that, IME, state colleges have much part-time workers and adjunct faculty.

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Response to raccoon (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 01:37 PM

2. My college was a private college

As far as I know, the public funding it receives/received was in the form of tuition assistance (grants and loans) to defray the student's cost. There is no good reason for schools to bury the cost of education anywhere other than tuition. Who cooks their books, Ken Lay?

State schools publish tuition for out of state students. Those rates should should reflect education cost and the difference between that and the in-state rate should directly relate to state contributions.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:05 PM

3. Total estimated in-state costs at the University of Illinois, a public school $28 - $33k per year

I wish I was kidding.

http://www.admissions.illinois.edu/cost/tuition_freshman.html

I know a big part of it is that the state schools aren't getting as much funding anymore from the government.

But its a horrific price to pay for anyone.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:30 PM

19. I just checked

There a medical school in my town that charges $42k/year. $30k for a year of undergrad is a complete ripoff. It's time to occupy the campuses.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #19)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 09:30 PM

23. Yup. And many (including DUers) want to blame the STUDENTS instead of the system

for their debt.

What are they supposed to do? NOT go to college and forfeit the long term benefits of having that degree? Its a complete crapshoot. Even majors that were "sure fire winners" 5 years ago (pre-Depression) when these poor kids started - believing they'd be able to pay these loans back - are not "sure fire winners' anymore. Anything associated with the building trades like civil engineering or architecture. Even paralegals have a sudden glut due to the collapse of the legal industry in the past 5 years.

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #23)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 09:39 PM

24. I read about...

...a mom who co-signed her son's loans for college so he could go. He graduated, got married and had a son. Then he died. His widow and son had to move in with his mom to make it. The real kicker is mom is still on the hook for the loans because she co-signed. Not dischargeable via bankruptcy.

This sounds to me like just another example of predatory lending.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:36 PM

4. my college tuition from 1990-1995

cost me about 17,000

in 08/09 for the year and a half when I went back to finish (I never graduated the first time).
it cost me about 15,000. Same university, same degree plan.

I'd like to go get a masters, but I'm 40 and live on a small salary.
I just can't afford it when I need to be saving for retirement....
and I still have a car payment.

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Response to MrsBrady (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:04 PM

13. I pretty sure my 4 years cost me about...

...$6500 total. I finished twice as long ago as you did. I'm 54. I work as a consultant. I own an S-corp that I work through. I have a small group health plan with a blue cross hmo. My wife doesn't work. I pay for us as a couple and 2 single employees. It's $2300 a month. On paper it looks like my business makes decent money.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:45 PM

5. I'm currently a student at Indiana University East, an extension of IU.

My tuition is $189.21 a credit hour. I take 6 hours a semester and my bill with all the other fees is around $1300. Books have been anywhere from $100 to $300 a semester. So I guess compared to a lot of places I'm getting off easy, but I still think it's expensive. Out of state tuition at the same school is over $500 a credit hour.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:55 PM

12. I feel your pain

I hope you're majoring in something that pays well.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:55 PM

6. Some of it might be teacher benefits

I teach in a high school and our salary costs have stayed pretty static with pay freezes or cuts but the cost of our health care has skyrocketed.

Administrator salaries have probably gone up (ours has gone up completely disproportionately to teacher salaries). At some public universities, administrators are now making close to a million a year with free housing and a free car, plus another half million from sitting on the boards of corporations.

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Response to noamnety (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:53 PM

11. Well that's certainly possible.

Some of the 1%ers finding a new way rape some more dollars out of the middle class.

The half mill board seats ought to be getting paid by the corps.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 04:32 PM

7. If you paid $104 per credit 30 years ago,

okay, I'm stressing 30 YEARS AGO, and now students pay $1,200 . . . not too bad!

Tuition not only pays for professors' salaries, but staff salaries, heating, cooling, new and exiting programs, computers, cleaning, improvements to buildings, counseling, OMG the list goes on and on.

And truth be told, tuition pays for only about 60% of the students' education. The rest comes from alumni, parents and friends who contribute to the college.

So when that phonathon student gives you a call . . . be graceful, be congenial, and please give to your alma mater. You received a good education . . . please pay forward.

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Response to Callalily (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:09 PM

9. I don't understand. "Not too bad!" Seriously?

All of the things you mentioned were part of the expense of operating a school 30 years. My children don't get a separate bill aside from that $1200/credit bill that says "Have your parents pay this."

Can you name 1 thing that might be part of some cost related to school operation that cost 1125% more than it did 30 years ago?

I just want an idea what has changed because there must have been some big change.

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Response to Callalily (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:17 PM

31. A 1053% increase is "not too bad"???

That would be true if most of us had seen an equivalent percent increase in salaries over 30 years.

I don't think that's even true though for the top 1%.

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Response to noamnety (Reply #31)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:28 PM

33. A definite +1 here!

Anyone who received a 1000% wage increase over 30 years has probably gone from paper boy to doctor or something similar.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 04:52 PM

8. It's different for different schools

But it seems like every kind of college has faced some kind of pressure that drives cost upward, some of which is the result of extreme competition.

Student housing is a big driver for every school that's not a "commuter school," and what passed for a nice dorm room when I was an undergrad would be unacceptable today. Students today expect high-speed internet, cable TV, and a much better variety of dining options. Because measures of "merit" correlates with income, schools that are ranking-conscious need to cater to the tastes of upper middle-class students. The same thing plays out in athletics - schools with brand-new and newly-renovated facilities will always attract the best athletes, and those aren't cheap.

Many schools that see their mission as chiefly teaching have increased expectations for scholarly productivity from their faculty. This means spending on research labs and reducing teaching expectations for tenure-track faculty. My own rankings-conscious school is trying to figure out how to get faculty down from 6 to 5 courses per year without busting the budget, chiefly to boost the number of papers faculty publish so we're seen as more prestigious. Another path is to hire lots of part-time or adjunct faculty.

Smaller class sizes can come into the picture, but at least there are sound educational reasons to do that.

One other factor is that tuition "sticker price" is not as closely related to the actual cost of education as you might imagine, especially in private colleges. My school is hoping to draw more "top" students and a high administrator told the faculty that we were at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting those students because our tuition was lower than at schools we would like to be regarded as our peers. They recommended we increase our tuition and move aid money around so that we're perceived less as a "best bargain" school than as a top-tier institution. The combination of moves doesn't reflect expenses in any way.

To some degree, because more and more middle-class careers require a degree as the price of entry (even if there's no real need for a degree to perform the work), the value of the education has skyrocketed. The price has swelled to match the perceived value, and few want to chance boycotting the game in protest. As you note, whoever is getting rich off this, it isn't the faculty. I think it's mainly administrators, the industry of consultants that advise administrators, people who build and renovate buildings and, most of all, the lenders who do an ENORMOUS business in the full range of loans, who profit from this inflation.

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Response to caraher (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 07:49 PM

10. I'm still a bit puzzled.

I think you're saying that the administration is being advised to RAISE prices so LOOK more valuable. Is that right? That's just insane. When I went to school there was competition between schools for the brightest and most successful students because it was thought these students would go on to great things and add to the school's reputation. Not that I know anything about running a school, I'm an engineer and it's been almost a year since I did something that the description of which wouldn't put most people to sleep but if I were a college recruiter and interviewed a student who told me that he might rather go to another school because mine didn't cost enough, I'd would advise against admitting him because he's just not that smart.

Are the dorm fees now part of the tuition?

Full time professors with tenure at my college (in science) were expected to teach 3 3 credit classes plus either 1 3 hour lab or 2 2 hour labs.

I'm seeing guys that my daughter dates having graduated with $50,000 (or more) in loans making about $5-7 more an hour than I did when I graduated. I think lots of folks should look long and hard at whether they need college, if they need 4 years of it and if they can make do with starting at a community college.

BTW, thank you so much for the thoughtful reply.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 10:30 PM

25. Well again, things vary with schools

So as you point out, room and board is different from tuition. I'm not sure that there's really a bright clear line in the budget process, however. It definitely doesn't make obvious sense that the cost of housing would affect tuition, but at the same time I think academic buildings and student housing maintenance and improvements compete for basically the same resources at many schools.

There's a whole market research community providing advice about tuition, and what you have to understand is that almost nobody at a college like mine actually pays the listed tuition. Private schools have what they call a "discount rate," which is the percentage less than "list price" students on average pay, and for the same *net cost* to students (and their families) you can have low tuition and a low discount rate, or high tuition and a high discount rate. If you pump up the official tuition AND raise financial aid to match, you can ask students to pay the same amount of money, but they'll typically go for the school that's "giving me more aid" over the school that has a lower tuition. Suddenly it appears you're offering a more valuable education, and all you've done is moved money from one pot to another...

Student debt is a huge problem, and we're very careful to keep our boys from incurring a lot of loan debt. Our elder son just got his BSME and doesn't owe a dime (he'd earned a full scholarship) and our younger son is a sophomore with no loans so far (though he did need to transfer to the school where I teach, that offers, as an enormous perk, free tuition to full-time employees). But we're far better positioned than most people and very, very lucky not to be at the mercy of the student loan sharks.

As bad as it is at regular colleges, a lot of loan debt comes from online and for-profit education. The default rates are much higher than for traditional higher education institutions, and the completion rates of such programs are often scandalously low.

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Response to caraher (Reply #25)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 10:57 PM

27. As I said somewhere in the thread...

...it sounds like Ken Lay designed this system.

Thanks for the look from inside. I'm sure it's more complicated than it sounds or needs to be but these loans that are comparable to a home purchase for some folks really have to go.

Thanks

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:05 PM

14. State funding has been slashed...

In Washington state, for example, the state used to pick up about 2/3 the cost of tuition. Now it pays about a quarter. Schools dont' have much choice (barring the increased salaries of administrators) to increase costs. Wish it wasn't so....Oh, and services are being cut way back too....

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Response to barnabas63 (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:08 PM

15. My college was/is a private college

I wasn't aware that they got state funding other than grants and aid that went to pay student's tuition. I'll have to look into that.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #15)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:29 PM

18. It's my understanding that private colleges don't get state money

That's why it's mostly rich kids and those going on grants and scholarships attending. I live in Richmond, Indiana and I responded earlier that I attend Indiana University East which is a state school and tuition is reasonable there judging by some of the rates people are paying elsewhere. In my same little town we have a private school called Earlham. It's not considered a big time school, but they have big time tuition. I checked their tuition before I transferred to IU. Full time with a dorm room costs a little over $40,000 a year. I'm a middle class non-traditional student who probably wouldn't even be accepted there because I can't attend full time, but even if they would accept me there's no way I could touch that tuition. We're talking $160,000 if you can get it done in four years.

I've toured Earlham before when I was driving a trash truck and taking care of their dumpsters. Kids from all over the country come to that little school. I saw license plates from Arizona and Connecticut and Florida. There were more out of state plates there than Indiana plates. Richmond is a small working class and middle class town for the most part. If you're from here and you go to college, chances are you are an IU East student and you are going to school on loans. But take heart poor kids. You are learning the same skills as the kids at Earlham.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #18)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:43 PM

20. You're even learning one...

...that those others apparently aren't $100,000 (plus) worth of debt can't buy you a good enough job to pay for itself. A townhouse in your area goes for about $85,000. What kind of income do you need to qualify for an $80,000 mortgage on top of maybe $125,000 worth of student loans? My figuring says at least $60k of regular income. Can a grad with 3 - 5 years experience expect that?

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #20)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 09:08 PM

22. You might be able to get by on 60k

My wife had student loan debt of about $25,000 and her payments were about $300 a month. Unless you can somehow defer a part of your payment on $100,000 worth of student loan debt you might be looking at what a lot of people here pay for their house payment on your student loan. So here in Richmond if you want a half way decent house, the payment on your mortgage and your student loan debt alone could easily be $1500 a month.

Sixty thousand dollar a year jobs are hard to come by in Richmond, though.

Our bills total about $2700 a month for everything including food and together we make about 60k. We are barely getting by without going further into debt aside from my student loans, although we do have some money going to retirement accounts.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #22)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 10:38 PM

26. I know a bit about Earlham

and more about schools generally like it. The thing to recognize is that ONLY the very wealthy students pay that $40k tuition. Almost everyone gets that reduced; the number is as much marketing as reality (people *expect* top private liberal arts colleges to have high tuition, so they do!). Now you're right that you probably would not be accepted for part-time study; schools like that really do not work with "non-traditional" students. They are looking to educate the new and new-ish high school graduate enrolling in full-time study.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:13 PM

16. get rid of student loans ...

 

and tuition will drop by 75%
..
schools will take every dollar they can.
it is just that simple

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Response to mrf901 (Reply #16)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:24 PM

17. An excellent idea

When I went to school, loans were 100% state or federally underwritten. Interest was 0% until graduation. Any time you maintained at least 6 credits your loan payments stopped. Not any more. Interest from day 1; not 4% either!

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Response to mrf901 (Reply #16)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 08:47 PM

21. don't count on it

tuition pays for infrastructure, technology, all kinds of things. people underestimate how much it costs to run all those services. if there is waste, it's in administrative costs, but a lot of that has been cut too...i fear for our education system. no one wants to fund it.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 11:25 PM

28. At Private Schools, Tuition is based on Prestige

All schools base their tuition increases on what other schools charge, in particular Ivy League schools. If a private school offers a deep discount on tuition, then that implies that the school is lesser than.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #28)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 10:31 AM

29. I think you may be right.

I think it's a bunch of crap.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:38 AM

30. I'm not sure why, but my daughter's annual tuition (and board) is $40K+

 

When I went to college in the 80's, it was $2,700 for OUT OF STATE tuition - and I wasn't even living in the dorms, so I can't speak to that cost. Hers is also out of state, but they don't differentiate there (private college).

When I went to community college in the late 70's/early 80's, it was something like $50/credit. I thought THAT was high!!! Oh, and parking was free, but I walked. It was very close to my house. I walked to my 4-year college too (about 1 1/2 miles for 2 years, 1/2 mile for the next two).

Then again, look at the salaries they're giving to the "executives" (if you will) of colleges. Four million to run a college? Shit, I'd do it for $200K - and probably do a better job. It certainly isn't going to the professors.

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #30)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:24 PM

32. Damn straight!

"Four million to run a college?"


Obviously these guys are doing a tremendous job. If you happen to find out for who they are doing a tremendous job, please let me know.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #32)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:43 PM

34. Don't know of any doing a tremendous job.

 

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Response to HopeHoops (Reply #34)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:56 PM

35. I suspect...

...only for themselves and maybe their brokers.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 01:11 PM

36. I work at a community college and costs here have gone up and up.

There's been a tremendous increase in tech costs, and not just replacement cycles on the computer labs and offices. We now need such a fancy web site to compete with other colleges that what once was done in spare time by existing staff now requires a couple of dedicated (new) staff members and probably half a mil in contractor costs over the last 2-3 years. Our learning management system is another $100 G's a year plus a small increase in staff to support it. Our student information system has to keep expanding to meet ever increasing demands on stats and student services.

And speaking of student services, laws over the years have required colleges, like most public-serving institutions, to increase and improve access to people with disabilities-- and the definition of disability has itself expanded. That means more support staff (from physical assistance to signers & transcribers to tutors), more tech, and physical plant improvements. Then there are programs for the at-risk students and remedial/developmental ed for students who come out of K-12 unprepared for college level work.

Utilities are way up. Administrator salaries are way up. Faculty pay is up a little. Staff pay is up-- but mainly because the jobs have evolved and gotten more specialized and technical.

Meanwhile, state support is down, local taxes are down, and investment returns are down.

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #36)

Mon Nov 12, 2012, 02:03 PM

37. Thanks for the insight.

This does shed some light on the source of some rising costs. Nothing is touching the cost increases generally seen in education.

The expenditures for web based learning are considerable and support for some infrastructure spending is justified.

Not every college has a Zuckerberg but imho they ought to be offered scholarships just like athletes. This may defray some of the costs colleges see for network and web-based development.

My college spent over $1 million on computer systems within 3 1/2 years and that's in late 1970's dollars.
My daughters both attend community colleges because they're affordable.

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