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Is a college education slowly becoming a luxary?


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#1 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1380

Posted 08 December 2012 - 07:25 PM

So a few days ago I was in a store minding my own business, when I overheard an employee having a conversation with another one. He was going about how he took out a $40k loan for school and now he has to pay double due to interest and he has no way of paying it back due to lack of job. He was thinking about joining the military to get his debts off. I cant help but notice that Ive heard this story many times before. With the rate of tuition for college going up every year, do you think a college education will once again be only for the few elites in society like how it used to be in the 1800s?

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#2 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1766

Posted 08 December 2012 - 07:48 PM

Depends on the region. In some regions the costs to the students are far more reasonable, some are even free. Other regions don't even have college level educations.

It wouldn't surprise me if major breaks and government support for student loans becomes a bigger political topic in the next decade as a greater portion of the voting population grows up with massive debts and poor jobs. It is the kind of thing that tips a nation towards massive social changes. Nothing like pissed off mid 20s to late 30s people to start a revolution.
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#3 BMO   Members   -  Reputation: 170

Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:10 PM

With the rate of tuition for college going up every year, do you think a college education will once again be only for the few elites in society like how it used to be in the 1800s?


Nope. Not with some places offering a college level education for completely free. MOOC's are on the rise and as they gain credibility they may even replace traditional colleges in some instances. Udacity has free courses and for their CS101 course you can take a proctored final exam for 100 bucks and some colleges are beginning to accept transfer credit for it. They are working on getting accreditation as well.

And that guy needs to do his research because he could have his interest and payments deferred till he got a job. My cousin did it for 5 years.

#4 Gavin Williams   Members   -  Reputation: 652

Posted 08 December 2012 - 09:54 PM

We have HECS in Australia, Higher Education Commonwealth Support Help, which does two things, it will give a 10% discount on any fee's if they are paid up-front (it was 20% until recently). And more importantly it provides for most courses a government provided interest free loan, that you don't have to pay back until you are earning above a certain amount. It is then paid back through the tax system. So no, in Australia it isn't a luxury, it's an option.

And fair enough too, providing global education is in every-bodies interest. Is anyone still arguing that it should only be available to the wealthy ?

Edit : I believe that in The States there uni system is very different to ours, they have a a much stronger scholarship system than us, because basically we don't need it to get an education. I suppose it's a difference in perspective of who should pay for the nations education ... but that can become a slightly complex discussion in itself for a number of reasons.

Edited by Gavin Williams, 08 December 2012 - 10:00 PM.


#5 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20339

Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:01 PM

I'd say the person mentioned in the third-hand retelling of the story is an exception to the rule.

In the United States, with a combination of grants, scholarships, and loans, a 4-year degree program is available to almost anyone who wants it.

That doesn't mean everyone can afford an exclusive private school. It may mean getting an associates degree at a junior college, then moving on to a less expensive state school to finish up.

University education is more accessible in the US than it is in most of the world, and due to the relative availability of funds it is pretty easy to get if you really want it.



I've heard the horror stories too. I've even seen a few of them. One that I know personally the 'student' took out $20,000 in student loans and spent it all on riotous living rather than scholarship. Not unexpectedly he ended up dropping out of school, declaring bankruptcy, and so on. To this day even as a more mature adult he still cannot manage money and constantly complains about how his own credit card debt is killing him.


Sadly there are many people who choose to attend an expensive school over one they can afford. Almost always it is the individual's fault for making bad choices.
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#6 Gavin Williams   Members   -  Reputation: 652

Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:09 PM

Almost always it is the individual's fault for making bad choices.

I believe education can help people make better choices.

#7 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20339

Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:15 PM

And fair enough too, providing global education is in every-bodies interest. Is anyone still arguing that it should only be available to the wealthy ?

Edit : I believe that in The States there uni system is very different to ours, they have a a much stronger scholarship system than us, because basically we don't need it to get an education. I suppose it's a difference in perspective of who should pay for the nations education ... but that can become a slightly complex discussion in itself for a number of reasons.


In the US there are federal grants ('free' government money) available to everyone who needs it. The grants provide enough money to cover most of the tuition at most of the inexpensive state-run universities.

There are also academic scholarships available to basically everybody who studies. (Sadly, many students do not study.)

Those who choose to attend the less prestigious state schools can very easily have all tuition and fees covered by 'free' money.

Those who choose to attend more expensive schools are eligible for student loans to cover the difference in cost and to cover some of their living expenses while in school. The student loans are subsidized by the government, have very low interest rates, and can be placed in deferment if you lose your job, cannot work, or have other issues.

The system of student loans has an unfortunate flaw in that the money is given to the student rather than the school. For most students that money is used responsibly for academic expenses. As I mentioned in my story above, some people take the student loans and use it to subsidise their lifestyle rather than using it for scholarship. Those people are often the ones saddled by heavy student debt.
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#8 j-locke   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:33 PM

Almost always it is the individual's fault for making bad choices.

I believe education can help people make better choices.


I agree that education can help people make better choices. But I don't think that education should be coming at the college level (17/18 years old). These are ideas and values that should have begun being ingrained by the early teens and hopefully was hammered home by the time they're leaving high school.

In this example, it would help them better assess using borrowed money for college. But it would help greatly in everyday life as well. Learning to budget. To live on less money than you make. To be aware of how much more money it costs to pay something off when even moderate interest rates are in play. Lots of subtle and not-so-subtle financial topics like that.

Edited by j-locke, 08 December 2012 - 10:33 PM.


#9 Chad Smith   Members   -  Reputation: 1109

Posted 09 December 2012 - 01:43 AM

As a current student at University, just this summer when I transferred to this University I had to deal with the whole Financial Aid, Grants, and Scholarships. I have entirely too much experience dealing with the current form of it.

I applied for a couple of different Scholarships, sadly didn't receive anything. My parents went through the entire FAFSA Application with my step-dad who also deals with this sort of stuff for a living. Well to not get all personal and to make a long story short, the Government at this time believe that my parents (who are divorced with them both remarried) make enough money to help me though school. Their are different grants that you can be accepted for. Each have a different interest rate and really different "rules." I was accepted for types of grants, with me able to accept one of them. Though after we talked to my step-dad and did more research on them we narrowed it down to really one type of grant as the other one would be a terrible choice for both me and my parents. The total grant that I was awarded per semester would not pay half of my tuition (judging by me taking a full load every semester).

All the other schools around my area have Tuition costing just as much and even some "smaller" schools have more expensive tuition. That could explain why two years in a row this school has set record number of enrollment every semester. It has some great accredited programs that are ranked high up in the US while still being "cheaper" than the other top Universities. If I would had chosen a cheaper school they would not have had my Major, Computer Science, offered there.

#10 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20339

Posted 09 December 2012 - 02:21 AM

As a current student at University...

That is why I was cautious with "most".

If you happen to live in any of the more expensive regions of the nation then you can expect costs to be high. If you live in New York, Los Angeles, or even the #11 Dallas area ranked in that #1-#11 article, your schools are just going to be more expensive. If that is the case, move.

Google says if you started from the #1 most expensive New York City and moved a few miles to the capital city you could save half your money. Or #2 expensive Los Angeles and moved in-state to Sacramento, you'd save almost 35% on tuition at various schools. If you were in Dallas moving over to Austin, you'd save about 20%.

Do you live somewhere expensive? If so, have you considered distant schools?

I applied for a couple of different Scholarships, sadly didn't receive anything.

Out of curiosity, what are your grades? My nephew in school is maintaining an A- average and maintains his half-tuition scholarship. When he entered school he talked about applying for around fifty different scholarships, and was able to choose among several.

When I went to my University in the 90's it was similar; I found it was easy to maintain a half-tuition scholarship by studying hard.

The total grant that I was awarded per semester would not pay half of my tuition (judging by me taking a full load every semester).


Or said from a more optimistic perspective...

You have access to 'free' grant money that covers almost half of your tuition, and your family is considered wealthy enough that they could pay the rest.

Your financial need was considered low enough that you didn't qualify for scholarships (I'm assuming your grades were not the problem), so you were expected to pay the bill.

If you qualify for grants then you are also likely eligible for federal student loans; the Stafford loan program is currently 3.6% fixed rate, with no payments until after you finish school. That is great considering other unsecured loan rates.


Either way, it is something that you CAN have access to. It is an option. It may not be fully funded, but it is an option and you are taking it.

Edited by frob, 09 December 2012 - 02:26 AM.

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#11 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29551

Posted 09 December 2012 - 02:34 AM

We have HECS in Australia, Higher Education Commonwealth Support Help, which does two things, it will give a 10% discount on any fee's if they are paid up-front (it was 20% until recently). And more importantly it provides for most courses a government provided interest free loan, that you don't have to pay back until you are earning above a certain amount. It is then paid back through the tax system. So no, in Australia it isn't a luxury, it's an option.

And fair enough too, providing global education is in every-bodies interest. Is anyone still arguing that it should only be available to the wealthy ?

Edit : I believe that in The States there uni system is very different to ours, they have a a much stronger scholarship system than us, because basically we don't need it to get an education. I suppose it's a difference in perspective of who should pay for the nations education ... but that can become a slightly complex discussion in itself for a number of reasons.

HECS has slowly been dismantled over the years - the original system gave all tertiary students the ability to get a "free" education (basically a government scholarship in the form of an inflation-rate loan, repaid via tax, on a regulated-cost education fee).
In '96, Howard changed the system so that there were only a limited number of students allowed into the HECS system each year, distributed between courses by the weighted "value" of each degree. If you missed out on a HECS allocation then you could only get an education if you had the money.
In '06, Howard deregulated the whole system and HECS became a "legacy system", replaced by "CSP" & "HELP". The number of allowed CSP (HECS) students continues to shrink, while the up-front costs for non-CSP/HELP students continues to rise astronomically.
Also, the discount for voluntary repayments on existing HECS/HELP debts has been reduced to just 5% now.

At this rate, give us another decade and we'll be as bad off as the Americans are. Tertiary education is already becoming a luxury for the rich and talented+lucky only, not a universal option for all citizens -- personally, I have friends who've been denied entry into the 'free' education system.

I do agree though that HECS was a magnificent system, and all countries should strive to implement something like it.

Edited by Hodgman, 09 December 2012 - 04:48 AM.


#12 Toothpix   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 810

Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:35 AM

No. College will be more and more of a commonplace thing in Western countries as occupations that don't require a university degree are all either outsourced to Asia or will be very soon.

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#13 Inferiarum   Members   -  Reputation: 731

Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:56 AM

I like the system here in germany, where everyone can go to any university (at least from a financial perspective)

#14 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1380

Posted 09 December 2012 - 04:09 AM

Wells guys I come from California and education is getting more and more expensive. In the 90s a semester at a UC coated $600 flat fee for as many units u wanted . Now a four unit class in a community college is $145. With that much money I was able to buy a video game console design kit. Allegro programming book, data structures for game programmers, and OpenGL game programming and still was left with money in my pocket. That's like 2 years worth of classes right there for less than a 4 unit class. Something is def wrong here

#15 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1471

Posted 09 December 2012 - 04:39 AM

In the US there are federal grants ('free' government money) available to everyone who needs it. The grants provide enough money to cover most of the tuition at most of the inexpensive state-run universities.
There are also academic scholarships available to basically everybody who studies. (Sadly, many students do not study.)
Those who choose to attend the less prestigious state schools can very easily have all tuition and fees covered by 'free' money.
Those who choose to attend more expensive schools are eligible for student loans to cover the difference in cost and to cover some of their living expenses while in school. The student loans are subsidized by the government, have very low interest rates, and can be placed in deferment if you lose your job, cannot work, or have other issues.
The system of student loans has an unfortunate flaw in that the money is given to the student rather than the school. For most students that money is used responsibly for academic expenses. As I mentioned in my story above, some people take the student loans and use it to subsidise their lifestyle rather than using it for scholarship. Those people are often the ones saddled by heavy student debt.

I challenge you on this - do not tell me about all this, SHOW me. I live in the States
I have a Bachelor's in general science, an associate's in communications, and over a dozen tech related certifications.
Everything except the associate's I had to pay for 100% - that degree I received in high school.
I have never qualified for ANY state or government grant - those are reserved for special interest groups.
I have never received any kind of governmental subsidy - again those are reserved for special interest groups.

I have, however, defaulted on my student loans, since I can not find any kind of job that pays more than my loan payments. My credit is wrecked, and any kind of retirement benefits I may receive in the future is forfeit (until the defaulted debt is payed back).

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#16 BMO   Members   -  Reputation: 170

Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:06 AM


In the US there are federal grants ('free' government money) available to everyone who needs it. The grants provide enough money to cover most of the tuition at most of the inexpensive state-run universities.
There are also academic scholarships available to basically everybody who studies. (Sadly, many students do not study.)
Those who choose to attend the less prestigious state schools can very easily have all tuition and fees covered by 'free' money.
Those who choose to attend more expensive schools are eligible for student loans to cover the difference in cost and to cover some of their living expenses while in school. The student loans are subsidized by the government, have very low interest rates, and can be placed in deferment if you lose your job, cannot work, or have other issues.
The system of student loans has an unfortunate flaw in that the money is given to the student rather than the school. For most students that money is used responsibly for academic expenses. As I mentioned in my story above, some people take the student loans and use it to subsidise their lifestyle rather than using it for scholarship. Those people are often the ones saddled by heavy student debt.

I challenge you on this - do not tell me about all this, SHOW me. I live in the States
I have a Bachelor's in general science, an associate's in communications, and over a dozen tech related certifications.
Everything except the associate's I had to pay for 100% - that degree I received in high school.
I have never qualified for ANY state or government grant - those are reserved for special interest groups.
I have never received any kind of governmental subsidy - again those are reserved for special interest groups.

I have, however, defaulted on my student loans, since I can not find any kind of job that pays more than my loan payments. My credit is wrecked, and any kind of retirement benefits I may receive in the future is forfeit (until the defaulted debt is payed back).


FAFSA is based in how much money you make, that's why your required to submit your tax return (or your parents). So if you made too much then you won't qualify for as much. It's not just for special interest groups. It's for poor people. There is also limited funds for each school and you have to get it in early or they will run out. FAFSA recommends you file asap in January and then submit as soon as you can. In Oklahoma one can go to a community college full time for about $900 a semester. There are a few nice 4 year institutions that has tuition around $1400 a semester. I regularly got enough to cover my tuition even when I was making 40k+ a year. Then on top of that they will offer student loans. The loans are there to cover any expenses you need to make school possible, like paying for staying in the dorms or rent of whatever. You can always turn down the loans and get a part-time job though. You don't have to take them to receive the FAFSA money.

Edit: Forgot to mention that my ex-wife took all the loans she could when she was going. The FAFSA paid her tuition but she wanted the money. So now she has a 30k student loan debt. I don't take the loans and I have zero school debt. It can be done.

Edited by BMO, 09 December 2012 - 09:13 AM.


#17 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4101

Posted 09 December 2012 - 02:23 PM

Mmm... Here the biggest universities are from the state, and they're free. You just need a certificate that you finished secondary school ("high school" equivalent i think? ) for signing up. Some faculties require an exam before (i had to do an exam for engineering faculty), but there are "harder to get in" universities like Universidad de Buenos Aires which require a whole year doing some universally required courses, then pass an exam and then you can pursuit your degree. Is one of the best universities around though.

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#18 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 09 December 2012 - 02:48 PM

FAFSA isn't just for poor people. I had I think 2 fafsa loans. They weren't huge. [edit: What I meant to convey is that I was middle/upper-middle class and I still got fafsa loans. They weren't as large as some, but I still got them.]

One thing I wish there were a better system for would be to have a more generic scholarship process. A lot of scholarships are pretty similar (best X applicants in Y field) and could be covered by the same application, but for most you have to apply individually, and it's tiresome. It's totally worth it, but I find it somewhat masturbatory that you have to essentially fill out 50 applications that are all the same with similar outcomes. I can't think of a better way that couldn't be abused though.

I think a significant part of the problem is that a lot of students don't realize how many scholarships are available to them until it's too late. In retrospect I probably could have gotten a good amount of my debt taken care of if I had known how many there were available to me, and that was at a modestly sized school. I didn't really look that hard, but I figured scholarships were for more remarkable people than I, so I never put much effort into looking.

Edited by way2lazy2care, 09 December 2012 - 02:53 PM.


#19 j-locke   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 09 December 2012 - 02:48 PM

I have a Bachelor's in general science, an associate's in communications, and over a dozen tech related certifications.
Everything except the associate's I had to pay for 100% - that degree I received in high school.
I have never qualified for ANY state or government grant - those are reserved for special interest groups.
I have never received any kind of governmental subsidy - again those are reserved for special interest groups.


Whether fair or not, certifications simply aren't a piece of the post-secondary educational structure, so their cost is a different discussion entirely.

I think maybe saying "special interest groups" is a bit of an overstatement for who the government subsidizes. But I think it is fair to say that those subsidies are not available to everybody. It is primarily targeted at the poor. If you and/or your guardians/parents have too much income, those subsidies simply aren't going to be available to you. I don't know if they account for different regions of the US in determining those income levels, but if not, you would certainly be at a disadvantage if you lived in a higher income area of the country (west coast or northeast are the primary areas that come to mind for that).

And as BMO mentioned, FAFSA is also timing based (essentially first come, first served among those who qualify for its need-based process). So without some fairly personal info from you, it's pretty hard to speculate on why on you didn't qualify for government subsidies.

I have, however, defaulted on my student loans, since I can not find any kind of job that pays more than my loan payments. My credit is wrecked, and any kind of retirement benefits I may receive in the future is forfeit (until the defaulted debt is payed back).


Definitely sorry to hear that that happened. Hopefully you're in the process of landing a job that will give you enough income to live on, save money, and begin to dig out of that debt. Bouncing back isn't an easy process, but it is definitely achievable. Good luck.

#20 BMO   Members   -  Reputation: 170

Posted 09 December 2012 - 05:26 PM

I have, however, defaulted on my student loans, since I can not find any kind of job that pays more than my loan payments. My credit is wrecked, and any kind of retirement benefits I may receive in the future is forfeit (until the defaulted debt is payed back).


Somehow I missed this. You can call your loan people and more than likely have the payments deferred so you don't ruin your credit. My cousin deferred hers for 5 years because she wanted to wait till she made more money to pay them back. You have options, just call them.




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