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ISDCaptain01

Do you think an education bubble exists in the US?

43 posts in this topic

I personally think so. With the rising cost of tuition causing more students to require loans to finish their studies. Once done, they most likely don't have a job = no money to pay off the debt. Then the banks and organization that gave these loans are left empty handed. Just like in real estate where a minimum wage guy bought a house than learned he couldn't pay it back, students taking loans for worthless degrees find out they cant pay back their loans either. I personally think something should be done soon rather than later.

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The major difference with the real estate crisis is the extreme safety of student loans.  Literally the only way to cancel them is to off yourself.

 

I think there's a problem, but I wouldn't define it as a bubble.  Worse still, everyone has their own way of fixing it, and all of the solutions sound a bit specious to me.  Some <party redacted> say you can just offer cheap education and the inflation problem magically just goes *poof*, as if education is somehow a commodity.  Others say you can just magically pay them more, which makes just about as much sense.  Some <party redacted> think there isn't a problem, or that people who can't afford to go to school shouldn't go to school, because damnit, you were born poor so you should stay that way.  Then there's the crazy <party redacted> who think getting rid of student loans altogether suddenly makes people not need them (what?)

 

Certainly, most of that makes sense in moderation, however.  The cost vs. benefit in education runs on an exponential scale.  Nobody needs 150,000 in student loans to become an artist, and anyone who ends up in that situation probably wasn't ready to graduate high school in the first place.  You can easily finish any 4-year program affordably with like 30,000 in student loans and be employable at entry-level anywhere.

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I think there are many stupid students.

There are stories about people who accumulate six figures worth of debt to get degrees with limited earnings potential.

There are very expensive schools like Harvard and Yale that run about $40K per semester. There are very inexpensive schools and community colleges that can be as low as $1K per semester. As was discussed in several similar threads recently where we were looking at 2010 numbers, looking across the nearly 3000 colleges and universities around the nation, the MEDIAN school cost was $2916 per year and the MEAN was $4081. You could make a list of all the schools and pick one at random and have a better than 50/50 chance of paying under $3K per year once you qualify for in-state tuition. Yes, those are the per year numbers, not per semester numbers. It includes all those rural schools and small town schools and places that don't have a sports program, or that do have one or two competitive sports teams but they are ranked in the high 300's rather than the sweet 16.


The problem is a lot of youth don't like going to the cheaper schools. They want to go to the big name schools, the popular schools, the big name schools with hundred-million-dollar sports programs. They don't want to go to the small school located in a small town that still provides a solid educational experience.

In one of the discussions, they really wanted to go to Penn State since it is the popular school with a massive sports program in their city; it is also $16k per semester. When we pressed them hard they admitted that yes, there were several small schools and community colleges that were 1/10 of the cost, but they really had their heart set on Penn State because of popularity reasons.


Education in the US does not need to be expensive. You do not need to go to the high end schools or the popular schools. If you are willing to shop around and travel a bit, there are many inexpensive yet still high quality schools available. For example, you could move to my city and attend a community college for two years while you wait for residency (currently 2400 per semester for non-resident tuition) then transfer to one of the state-run university for two more years (currently about 1800 per semester) with the end result as a bachelor's degree for about $30K. You can repeat this for nearly every state in the country; move and attend a community college until you hit residency, then transfer to a bigger inexpensive state-run school.

If you qualify for grants and scholarships it is fairly easy to get the costs down to less than a household usually spends on smart phones.
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There are also a large number of students failing out of universities after accumulating debt. These students are predominantly from low income backgrounds, and have no real means to tackle those loans. Plus there's the question of why students from those backgrounds are dropping out at such high rates in the first place. Yet another angle on the mess.

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@ frob

Those numbers do not match up with the *bleep*ing high prices I've seen with no-name in-state community colleges .

 

 Any way, in the modern day US there is a real problem of kids taking courses that have a very slim chance of landing a real job in the same field.

 

41% of kids will drop out of college their first time around . Some states are better than others.

 

After 6 months of graduating, 40% of kids will not have a job, 16% will be working in a job with less than 30 hours a week.

27% of the kids that have a full time job will be working in the field they studied in.

 

 The the fields of study with the highest unemployment rate for college graduates in the US currently are:

Psychology and related

Teaching

Business administrative

Law

Engineering

Art

Communications / media

Edited by Shippou
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The OP was talking about high tuition and debt. I agree with you that dropout rates, employment viability, family and health concerns, these are big issues. Tuition and debt do not need to be.

It is extremely easy to move inside the US. Hundreds, even thousands of families do it every day. You might need to pull up your roots for a few years, but apart from the emotional difficulty you can easily choose to move somewhere that education is commonplace. I've got 11 big non-profit schools with CS departments within a one hour commute of where I am sitting. Six of them are state funded public schools. Then there are also several trade schools and the normal collection of sleezy for-profit institutes as well. Most of the big schools charge between $2000 and $3000 per semester, the although some of the private and all of the for-profit places charge much more.

My niece and also several of my neighbor kids are attending a smaller college about 2 hours away, the cost is $1400 per semester for a well regarded 2-year college. Non-resident rates depend on various factors but can be less than $3500 per semester so moving is an option especially when you compare the rates with the $16K per semester at a popular school discussed in the other thread. It is a nice (yet very rural) community, lots of students there, lots of opportunity to study, and there are even opportunities for part time jobs to help pay the bills.


Yes, I agree that dropout rates, viable career fields, family concerns, health concerns, these are all very real problems.

But the OP was talking about tuition and debt. You don't need to go to an expensive school just because it is the popular local school. In the US, cost by itself is usually not a valid reason to not get an education. There are low cost options available if you chose them and are willing to make hard choices; you don't need to accumulate $100,000 in debt.

There are many other very real concerns that prevent attending and completing higher education courses, but if you are determined to get an education the cost is not one of those reasons.
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There are many other very real concerns that prevent attending and completing higher education courses, but if you are determined to get an education the cost is not one of those reasons.

 Out-of-state cost for that school is $12,650 per year ( $50,600 for BA ) . Of course the ACT course would run an additional $1,200 per year.

 So $55,400 for a BA from them. This seems quite expensive.

 

 

 

 Any options for some one like me, who is unable to get student loans, and is only qualified for $450 a year government grant ? (( yes I filled the federal student grant paperwork out ))

Edited by Shippou
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Out-of-state cost for that school is $12,650 per year ( $50,600 for BA ) . Of course the ACT course would run an additional $1,200 per year.
So $55,400 for a BA from them. This seems quite expensive.

That's a two year school, so you wouldn't get a BA from them.

Any options for some one like me, who is unable to get student loans, and is only qualified for $450 a year government grant ? (( yes I filled the federal student grant paperwork out ))

Move for real and establish residency. It can take one year, but it can also be less if you qualify for assorted rules to establish residential ties. Get a real job for a few months, or find a school in a state with a relative, or otherwise discover the rules and use them to your advantage.

You mentioned one grant, the grant process IIRC is specific to the school. You might get a different value for a different school.

Next, scholarships. Apply for everything. If you are serious about your study then do the work and get good grades. Half-tuition and full-tuition scholarships are easy to get if you maintain high grades. (I had a half tuition scholarship for four years, in addition to working part time and being married halfway through school all the while living without family support. It is possible to do. A little more work and I could have kept a full tuition scholarship, but I was relatively lazy.)

Also, consider a wide number of schools. University of Wyoming is one of the cheapest. Move for a year then enroll in one of the cheapest universities in the nation.
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Whilst at University I studdied alongside a lot of US students who had decided to study here in the UK simply because even taking into account flights, accomodation, overseas tuition fees it was still cheaper for them to study in the UK.  This iprobably doesn't happen as much now sinse we have had the huge tution fee hikes in the UK but, still possible in Scotland which kept their tuition fees low.

 

I think the education bubble isn't a new thing but actually started in the mid 90s with "Media Studies" and "General Studies" degrees and esculated from there.  It has become more and more fashionable to go to university just for the experience whereas it used to be only the Gifted or the Rich actually studied to this level.

 

There are far too many people studying degrees that will not improove their prospects in the job market in any way.  Of course there is the other argument that job prospects should have nothing to do with your degree and that the reason for studying is purely an Academic persuit.

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Well, there definitely appears to be creeping credentialism and education inflation, at least in North America (I am less familiar with other jurisdictions).

 

In the 1950s, fully 40% of students graduated from secondary school.  Most people found work regardless, and a small percentage of graduates went on to receive post-secondary education.  Everything was rosy.

 

Within a decade, most well-paying jobs required a minimum education level of a secondary school diploma.  The same jobs, but the goal posts had moved.  Various changes were made to secondary education to both encourage people to stay in school longer and to make it easier for them to graduate.  The student populations boomed, and colleges were built to provide the additional education no longer provided by secondary schools, and to provide technical and skills training no longer provided by employers in the effort to 'improve efficiency' and increase quarterly dividends.  Piles of funds were made available for education, because it was clear that a better-educated population was a good thing all around, it had an excellent return on investment.

 

A couple of decades later and a college diploma or university degree became the standard basic minimum level of education for most jobs.  Again, changes were made to the education system.  More infrastructure build-out took place because bricks and mortar are great campaign items, but operational funding was reduced because budget cuts are great campaign items.

 

Come today.  The same job that was performed by someone with a minimum grade 10 education in the 1950s requires a university degree.  Most jobs that could have been done in the 1950s by a high-school dropout have been moved to a third-world dicatatorship so we can save 15 cents on underwear at Wal-Mart.  Real incomes are down and people resent having to pay for someone else's education, since they get no direct benefit.  Talk radio and internet choir-preaching sites are popular.

 

Domestic politics has turned into a race to the bottom to see who can drum up more hate.  Stop the crazy spending on elitist education!  Make education free for the poor and make the rich pay!  Vote for me and I'll buy you ice cream with your own money!!

 

When I went to university in the 1980s, it cost me a lot of money.  I got loans,  I worked part-time, I starved, and I wore out my clothes for 6 years (I had duct tape holding my shoes together because i could not afford a new pair).  Education is expensive.  I still think it's a worthwhile social investment with good returns for all.  I'm disappointed that my kids graduated from high school without the chance to learn calculus or linear algebra but they're learning it in university and they have scholarships and bursaries to pay for it that weren't available when I was their age.

 

Just think about how important subsidizing education is the next time you're sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office.  Ask yourself if the best qualification for someone who is about to perform your DRE is coming from a wealthy family vs. having studied a lot.

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Quality of education is something one should be concerned about.  As someone who went to college at a 2 year university first, the comp sci courses I got there definitely paled in comparison to the ones I got at a four year school.  Though, price != quality, so it's really hard to judge that kind of stuff, and find the right places.

 

It also helps that there are lots of predatory institutions out there as well, that will happily help you get a student loan and then give you a craptastic education.

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Vote for me and I'll buy you ice cream with your own money!!

 

That is the greatest quote ever.  I want to hang it on my wall.

 

 

Quality of education is something one should be concerned about.  As someone who went to college at a 2 year university first, the comp sci courses I got there definitely paled in comparison to the ones I got at a four year school.  Though, price != quality, so it's really hard to judge that kind of stuff, and find the right places.

 

It also helps that there are lots of predatory institutions out there as well, that will happily help you get a student loan and then give you a craptastic education.

 

Agreed.  Like I said above, education is not a commodity.  At least in the comp sci field, where you went to school has some impact on your entry in the job market.  I've experienced this first-hand.  On the same token though, nobody needs to go to MIT to graduate with a job.

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In the 1950s, fully 40% of students graduated from secondary school. Most people found work regardless, and a small percentage of graduates went on to receive post-secondary education. Everything was rosy.



Within a decade, most well-paying jobs required a minimum education level of a secondary school diploma. The same jobs, but the goal posts had moved. Various changes were made to secondary education to both encourage people to stay in school longer and to make it easier for them to graduate. The student populations boomed, and colleges were built to provide the additional education no longer provided by secondary schools, and to provide technical and skills training no longer provided by employers in the effort to 'improve efficiency' and increase quarterly dividends. Piles of funds were made available for education, because it was clear that a better-educated population was a good thing all around, it had an excellent return on investment.



A couple of decades later and a college diploma or university degree became the standard basic minimum level of education for most jobs. Again, changes were made to the education system. More infrastructure build-out took place because bricks and mortar are great campaign items, but operational funding was reduced because budget cuts are great campaign items.

 

I think this is why this is happening. Why do even the most menial of jobs now require a degree? I was walking in the science building in my university and they had a job ad for

an entry level web developer requiring a masters in CS. Really?

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 ...

I was walking in the science building in my university and they had a job ad for an entry level web developer requiring a masters in CS. Really?

 

 

 It's a growing trend in both the US and Canada were employers will post a job with crazy job requirements.

 After some time passes, they go the immigration office and say "we can't find any qualified people to fill this job - we need to import a specialist" .

 At that point they import some one who doesn't actually have the original job "requirements", but who is willing to work for $15,000 - $20,000 USD a year .

In the US they are called H1B Visas, and they are being freely abused by companies who want cheap tech labor.

Edited by Shippou
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Ironically, you could fill most "web developer" entry level jobs with people that have high-school diplomas if even a tiny amount of programming was compulsory during secondary school.  For that reason alone people tend to at least have to jump to an AS.

 

Honestly, it boggles my mind.  We require math and english (typically as well as a second language), use multiple computers literally every day, but never require people to learn a single thing about them outside of office use?

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There are far too many people studying degrees that will not improove their prospects in the job market in any way. Of course there is the other argument that job prospects should have nothing to do with your degree and that the reason for studying is purely an Academic persuit.

I think both of those are bad ways of looking at it.

It should be common sense that it's a good idea(tm) to have an educated population simply for the sake of it. Not for jobs specifically, and not for academia specifically, but just because education makes the world better. Can you imagine living in Somalia where they have to use illustrations on street signs because 80% of people can't even read? We've decided that our society would be much worse off if reading was only for the rich, so we ensure everyone has this capability.

A country with educated citizens is more prosperous, more stable, more equal, more healthy, has less crime, than a country with non-educated citizens. There should be no argument that it's in everybody's best interests if everyone is encouraged and given the opportunities to become as educated as they want to.

Education isn't expensive. It is ridiculously expensive in the USA compared to the rest of the world (just like healthcare, justice, etc... notice a common theme...), but that's because you've chosen to make it expensive in order for it to be a worthwhile for-profit venture. The whole argument there has nothing to do with education, and everything to do with liberal-economics only. You don't necessarily want to have a ruined generation, education-for-the-rich, unfathomable crime rates, overflowing prisons, expensive justice, affordable healthcare, etc... It's just that these have implicitly been chosen as the status-quo by the religious insistence on individualism.

Once done, they most likely don't have a job = no money to pay off the debt. Then the banks and organization that gave these loans are left empty handed. I personally think something should be done soon rather than later.

Only if you die. Otherwise they'll just leech off you for life, and you and your debt are still a valuable asset for them. Nothing will be done because doing so is apparently tantamount to soviet communism.

[edit] as for education inflation, it's probably bein diluted at the same rate... Schools used to teach Latin and Greek just so we could learn from the classics, and presidents used to publish long and well reasoned speeches in newspapers expecting to win over the public using logic and to encourage real debate.
Such things sound completely and utterly unbelievable today.
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I think there is an education bubble, and one problem is a type of degree inflation. The percentage of people with Ph.Ds (and master's degrees) of people that went to college in total is higher now than a quarter-century ago, so there are more qualified people fighting over the same set of jobs. Companies then choose people with more advanced degrees (or degrees from certain universities) to ration positions in their companies, and over time that level of education becomes the standard. For example, jobs that required a high-school diploma 25 years ago require a bachelor's now, and likewise with bachelor's and master's degrees now. This forces more people to get advanced degrees to compete, and it slowly escalates. If more people have to graduate college to get degrees to compete, established universities charge more money to ration the slots for incoming students so they can still keep class sizes manageable (even though they're not now) and more 2-year colleges and trade schools are created to pick up the slack. Some jobs don't need that kind of education. For example, during the U.S. recession I saw a Mexican fast food joint require a bachelor's degree to work there (not in management). I think it's just gotten ridiculous in the United States.

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jobs that required a high-school diploma 25 years ago require a bachelor's now

 

Is that really the case in the US?

 

Because I haven't really seen it anywhere else. There are certainly more jobs that require a degree now, but those are generally jobs that either didn't exist 25 years ago or weren't that common. I have yet to see anyone require higher qualifications for trade jobs (plumber, electrician, etc) or low skilled work.

 

Do you have any evidence of this (aside from your mexican fast food anecdote)?

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Interesting topic. I am all about learning, and I feel that information should be free to a degree (I used to think it should be free all of the time).

We are living in a time where information is power. Ironic enough for me.

It makes sense that IT is a big field.

Take the news for instance, what would we know or care to know without it?

It comes down to what information is worth paying for, and what information is not worth paying for.

Yet, sometimes information is a lot harder to attain, because it is made harder to attain by systems.

There is a school program running in several counties near me where the students learn from their tablets and computers via some monotonous toned lady speaking to them from a flat screen. That is the state of education to day.

We have so much access to information via the internet at our disposal that experience sorta gets the short end of the stick.

25 years ago, experience was THE thing to have, where men and women learned trades. And I do believe there were more jobs then. Jobs like:

Shoe shiner
Whistle Blower
Grass Picker
Limb gatherer
Wheel turner

"Joe can't think a lick, but he sure can turn a wheel."

I believe experience is still THE thing in SOME companies, but from my personal experience, it seems that society tries to pays back college students first, for the money (not time and hard work) they invested for that degree.
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Are we talking about the US?

 

 

I think its probably true that we're producing too many young adults with high amounts of student debt for the economy in its current shape to support. That's a complex issue that touches on the workforce as a whole, the state of K-12 education, the loss of the manufacturing sector and others to outsourcing, and other things.

 

On the K-12 part of the equation, I believe there's been a handful of problems there -- First is basic reading literacy, second is the trend of standardized testing and the ways that has come to shape school curriculum for the worse, third is scientific literacy (STEM), fourth is the utter concentration of education to produce college entrants rather than capable young-adults/workers, and fifth -- related to the last and second -- is the gutting of art, music, and vocational education opportunities. On the last point, I think its a critical failure of K-12 education to not recognize or value those who aren't college-bound or entering a traditional career-field -- it used to be that high schools prepared individuals to enter into vocational apprentice-ships as plumbers, builders, mechanics -- and while I would tend to agree that those fields don't necessarily make for a comfortable life -- there will always be a local need for those services that can't be outsourced. Likewise in the arts -- some people are simply painters and dancers -- far be it from us to tell them otherwise -- yet our K-12 system gives them no quarter. Likewise, for those on a path to entrepreneurship. I value the college education I have, it gives me a comfortable life, debt-and-all, but I think it does us all a disservice to effectively make it a requirement for everyone. At the same time, I also believe that the reliance on college to be the final source of education in some ways has allowed K-12 to be so staggeringly ineffective -- they can fail and pass the buck onto colleges; when a high-school graduate can't find work, its no longer because they were failed by K-12, its because of their personal failure to go to college.

 

As a secondary backdrop to what I think about K-12 and how it relates to this, I also believe strongly that kids are far more capable of what we ask them to do, and we get such poor results because we're asking them to grow in the wrong way -- its not always apples-to-apples to compare to other countries, but its interesting how much lip service we pay to K-12 education despite our poor results, and even more interesting when you realize that many of the countries outperforming us on reading and STEM literacy are doing it while spending less, assigning less homework, and many of them having more vacations, shorter school years, and shorter school days. Yes, you hear a lot about Japan's education culture and their cram-schools running late into the evening, but on the opposite end of the spectrum you have Sweden (I think, or maybe Finland) which operates as I describe.

Why is it this way? The basic problem is that the American system is essentially an industrial version of education. We try to turn out students shaped like cogs, ready-fit for the college machine. When standards aren't being met, we introduce *more process* and *less care* -- like so many maligned middle-managers. We're so focused on feeding the machine, that the adults in charge can't recognize and don't value those that would be instrumental in different and possibly new machines -- Instead, they're discouraged and malnourished from growing into full form, so that they can better fit into the approved machines. The result if an over-abundance of young adults with very little in the way of discernible skills, let along distinguishing ones, and a stark lack of real confidence to do their own thing. When I was in K-12, only the exceedingly bright students -- those smart enough to challenge an adult on intellect -- were ever given any real special opportunities as far as education goes. In high-school this changes a bit, where a reasonably bright student to elect to take college-level courses for credit, but even those were not especially challenging. In my senior year I even repeated one of those college math classes *voluntarily* because there was nothing else worthwhile to take, and my school, because of the state, wouldn't let me take any more study hall, TA-gigs, or independent study hours. K-12 as it is produces minimal quality goods en mass, that is their focus -- and as they succeed at hitting that incredibly low bar, we should find it unsurprising that it leads to the kind of "bubble" OP describes.

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It should be common sense that it's a good idea™ to have an educated population simply for the sake of it. Not for jobs specifically, and not for academia specifically, but just because education makes the world better. Can you imagine living in Somalia where they have to use illustrations on street signs because 80% of people can't even read? We've decided that our society would be much worse off if reading was only for the rich, so we ensure everyone has this capability.

 

You are taking things to a complete extreme.  Being able to read a street sign doesn't require a Batchelors degree.  Neither does being a Mechanic, a builder, a painter and decorator, an electrician, a gas fitter, an accountant and many other vital careers.   You are in Australia and for me to emigrate there, there are only two jobs on the list of required trades that actually need a degree.

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You are taking things to a complete extreme.  Being able to read a street sign doesn't require a Batchelors degree.
Imagine if everyone you meet had a degree in something. That guy you bought a chocolate from? Expert in biochemistry. That taxi driver? Psychologist. The woman selling hot dogs on the street? She's a mechanical engineer.

 

It would be much more interesting...

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Imagine if everyone you meet had a degree in something. That guy you bought a chocolate from? Expert in biochemistry. That taxi driver? Psychologist. The woman selling hot dogs on the street? She's a mechanical engineer.


It would be much more interesting...


Hah! If you think it'd be interesting for you, try being the poor schmuck trying to service his crushing student debt by slinging hot dogs on the street corner.

Sadder still is that this is *already* the reality for many people.

Being educated is great, everyone should do it... But "having an education" isn't for everyone, not in the US anyways. We have a free and widespread K-12 system that could and should do so much more to produce educated, world-ready young adults who either have valuable skills, or are on a track for higher education/non-traditional career paths. My personal belief is that if we start there, the rest will come more easily, of not as a natural consequence.
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Everyone should have an education, but that's a moving target.  College, by definition, is supposed to be education at a level beyond what contemporary society can hold for everyone.  As general education requirements grow, K-12 are supposed to service that., not "higher" education.

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