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# Is a college education slowly becoming a luxary?

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34 replies to this topic

### #21frob  Moderators

Posted 09 December 2012 - 06:55 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).

I'm sorry to hear that. I don't personally know anyone who landed in that situation. I do know a few people who needed to defer their loans for a few years, but in every case I personally know about, things have worked out.

I'm sorry to hear you had such negative experiences.

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.

Wikipedia says there are currently 4495 institutions in the United States; with so many schools the individual experiences are going to vary widly. A 2-year associates degree program from a state-run school averages $2544 per year, a 4-year program at a state-run university averages$4081 per year. Additional years of schooling (such as a six-year masters program or eight-year doctorate) cost more. Private universities can cost much more.

Last year the average government grant to students was $4115 per student per year, more than enough to cover the cost of an average 4-year university education at a state-run school. If you live in a very expensive city (such as NYC or LA) many schools cost double or more than that average. If you go to one of the really high-end schools like Harvard, Yale, or MIT, expect to pay around$50,000 per year. On the flip side, if you go to a smaller school or live in a less expensive area the costs can be much less.

There are tests students take -- and can retake it if not satisfied with the results -- that is combined with grades to determine eligibility. Generally a state school will accept anyone, but the higher-ranked schools have more applicants and therefore must limit entrance to the higher-ranked students. The most prestigious schools have so many applicants that only the top-tier students are accepted.

Many students will attend a smaller 2-year program at a fraction of the cost to get their required courses. They will then transfer to a more expensive and more prestigious school for the following 2 years to complete a 4-year program of study.

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### #22Alpheus  GDNet+

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:14 PM

Many students will attend a smaller 2-year program at a fraction of the cost to get their required courses. They will then transfer to a more expensive and more prestigious school for the following 2 years to complete a 4-year program of study.

This is usually the best course of action. However when doing this, the student should get the best grades necessary. The grades do come into play when deciding if the class from a community college will transfer to a university.
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### #23ISDCaptain01  Members

Posted 10 December 2012 - 01:03 AM

Personally I think distance learning and online is gonna play a major role within a decade in many universities. Maybe even free online education as others have mentioned.

### #24MaxDZ8  Members

Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:33 AM

Agreed. I am very interested in the way US students are supported, looks like they're really interested in getting higher-level brains into working.
Personally college education was a luxury for me already. Apparently they believed my parents were going to make a lot of money anyway, which is borderline funny. A professor once asked me why I didn't sign for a better university. I replied I signed the on nearest one, as it was the only I could afford.
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### #25TheChubu  Members

Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:16 AM

A 2-year associates degree program from a state-run school averages $2544 per year, a 4-year program at a state-run university averages$4081 per year. Additional years of schooling (such as a six-year masters program or eight-year doctorate) cost more. Private universities can cost much more.

Last year the average government grant to students was $4115 per student per year, more than enough to cover the cost of an average 4-year university education at a state-run school. There is some form of requirement for getting a grant? Or there are different kinds of grants with different requirements? If you live in a very expensive city (such as NYC or LA) many schools cost double or more than that average. If you go to one of the really high-end schools like Harvard, Yale, or MIT, expect to pay around$50,000 per year. On the flip side, if you go to a smaller school or live in a less expensive area the costs can be much less.

One question. Those payments, what are for? Cost of courses? Exams? Or other kind of costs? I'm not exactly sure what you actually pay for.

There are tests students take -- and can retake it if not satisfied with the results -- that is combined with grades to determine eligibility. Generally a state school will accept anyone, but the higher-ranked schools have more applicants and therefore must limit entrance to the higher-ranked students. The most prestigious schools have so many applicants that only the top-tier students are accepted.

Tests are universal or they depend on the university?

Here they depend on the university. Engineering faculty requires an exam, but it's mostly because there are a lot of applicants. The same same university offers free summer courses that you can attend that prepare you for the exam and the kind of mathematics you can face on the first year (for which you may or may not be prepared depending on where you got your secondary education). But other universities may have another system.

Many students will attend a smaller 2-year program at a fraction of the cost to get their required courses. They will then transfer to a more expensive and more prestigious school for the following 2 years to complete a 4-year program of study.

I understand that you can choose a lot of ways to do your courses (with a "credits" system). It is the same in all universities? Here it depends on the size of the university. I currently only have, for CS related degrees, a 3 year program for an Analyst degree, plus 2 years more for a Computing Licentiate degree (with a thesis dissertation). With only a variation on two optative courses in the fifth year, the rest of the program is the same for everyone who pursuits that degree.

Do you need a thesis dissertation for a Bachelors degree? Or some other kind of research project? What are the costs for a Master/Doctorate?

Edited by TheChubu, 10 December 2012 - 11:19 AM.

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### #26frob  Moderators

Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:05 PM

There is some form of requirement for getting a grant? Or there are different kinds of grants with different requirements?

There are various kinds of grants, each with different requirements. All of them are based on financial need.

One question. Those payments, what are for? Cost of courses? Exams? Or other kind of costs? I'm not exactly sure what you actually pay for.

Each school sets the tuition costs based on what it costs to run the school. There is a general tuition charged to all students, then there are additional fees charged based on what services of the school you may use in your program.

Tests are universal or they depend on the university?

Here they depend on the university. Engineering faculty requires an exam, but it's mostly because there are a lot of applicants. The same same university offers free summer courses that you can attend that prepare you for the exam and the kind of mathematics you can face on the first year (for which you may or may not be prepared depending on where you got your secondary education). But other universities may have another system.

It is not on a per-school basis. There are standardized tests that are accepted at all the schools.

That said, there are two competing standardized tests. They are the SAT and the ACT. Some schools prefer one of those tests, some schools prefer the other test, many schools will accept either test.

I understand that you can choose a lot of ways to do your courses (with a "credits" system). It is the same in all universities? Here it depends on the size of the university. I currently only have, for CS related degrees, a 3 year program for an Analyst degree, plus 2 years more for a Computing Licentiate degree (with a thesis dissertation). With only a variation on two optative courses in the fifth year, the rest of the program is the same for everyone who pursuits that degree.

There are required courses and optional or elective courses. The exact program of study is set by the individual school.

Required courses usually include classes on algorithms and data structures, general software engineering, operating systems, and theory. They also generally require a few non-CS courses in math and communications.

Students are also offered a wide range of elective courses and can tailor their education based on their goals. One student may choose topics such as computer graphics, artificial intelligence, and network programming, while another student may choose topics like database development, web development, and software security. There are a minimum number of hours required (usually called credit hours) to earn the degree.

Most schools also require a number of hours of general education. Those are electives within several fields to give a breadth of education. Again these are chosen by the student, not forced by the school These required topics may include humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and so on. For example, students may choose to satisfy their physical sciences requirements by taking their choice of chemistry, physics, biology, microbiology, zoology, botany, or certain other classes.

Do you need a thesis dissertation for a Bachelors degree? Or some other kind of research project? What are the costs for a Master/Doctorate?

Most 2-year and 4-year programs do not require a thesis. Most 6-year (masters degree) and 8-year (doctorate) programs do require a thesis or dissertation.

The costs for a masters or doctorate vary based on the school. You would need to look up the individual school to find their costs.

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### #27ChaosEngine  Members

Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:51 PM

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

Couldn't agree more. I was lucky enough that my university education in Ireland was free, and this was available to everyone. But then, most of the universities were state run, so they weren't charging ridiculous fees in the first place.

As to the OPs question, the equation to work out the value in pure monetary terms is simple, but the inputs are a quessing game.

cost = tuition * years + interest (depending on how long it takes you to pay the loan)
benefit = estimated lifetime salary (with degree) - estimated lifetime salary (without degree)

if benefit < cost, don't go to university.

That's ignoring the intangibles. I loved university. I met my wife there, I made friends who I still hang out with 15 years later and I absorbed information and ideas that helped shape my world view.
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### #28frob  Moderators

Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:26 PM

I think a lot of the difference comes from the numbers involved.

I think the three countries we're discussing (could be wrong) are Argentina, Australia, and the US. If there are other nations in the discussion, I'm sorry if I missed it. These should be easy to find for your nation.

Numbers from Wikipedia;

Australia offers 41 universities, plus another 150 or so trade schools.
Argentina has 85 universities, plus another 1500 or so trade schools.
The US has 4495 degree-granting institutions, plus many thousands (I couldn't find a solid number) of smaller unaccredited trade schools.

Roughly 630K (2.75% of the population) in Australia are engaged in higher education.
Roughly 1.5M (3.75% of the population) in Argentina are engaged in higher education.
Roughly 20M (6% of the population) in the US are engaged in higher education.

Simply, there are many more people involved with higher education in the US, and there are many more options available. Those options include differing cost structures.

Some school are extremely focused on a specific field with little or no focus on arts, humanities, or other disciplines. Other schools are very broad offering degrees in hundreds (and in a few cases, even thousands) of different topics, and may include major athletics programs and other non-academic programs.

### #30Anri  Members

Posted 10 December 2012 - 07:03 PM

After six years holding down full time hours, no holidays and practically no social life...I am greeted with the happy-go-lucky news that tuition fees have trebled and apparently I should be ecstatic by the news...

...all I can ask is "and what medication do you happen to be on?".

...I am thankful I got my degree in before this stupidity happened, but dammit, I seriously cannot afford to continue any further. I was looking forward to an additional certificate in Maths or Physics but that simply isn't going to happen. Education here in the UK is now only for the super rich.

### #31way2lazy2care  Members

Posted 10 December 2012 - 07:26 PM

After six years holding down full time hours, no holidays and practically no social life...I am greeted with the happy-go-lucky news that tuition fees have trebled and apparently I should be ecstatic by the news...

...all I can ask is "and what medication do you happen to be on?".

...I am thankful I got my degree in before this stupidity happened, but dammit, I seriously cannot afford to continue any further. I was looking forward to an additional certificate in Maths or Physics but that simply isn't going to happen. Education here in the UK is now only for the super rich.

What's the estimated average cost for a year of school where you study? I'm curious because I have no frame of reference, not because I don't believe you.

### #32Anri  Members

Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:49 AM

After six years holding down full time hours, no holidays and practically no social life...I am greeted with the happy-go-lucky news that tuition fees have trebled and apparently I should be ecstatic by the news...

...all I can ask is "and what medication do you happen to be on?".

...I am thankful I got my degree in before this stupidity happened, but dammit, I seriously cannot afford to continue any further. I was looking forward to an additional certificate in Maths or Physics but that simply isn't going to happen. Education here in the UK is now only for the super rich.

What's the estimated average cost for a year of school where you study? I'm curious because I have no frame of reference, not because I don't believe you.

For a single year its £5,000 with the Open University(England). If you go with a brick uni then its about £9,000.

Even still, handing over £5K a year is like being able to buy a new car every year...prices like that are in the realms of fantasy...

### #33TheChubu  Members

Posted 11 December 2012 - 11:26 AM

For a single year its £5,000 with the Open University(England). If you go with a brick uni then its about £9,000.

Even still, handing over £5K a year is like being able to buy a new car every year...prices like that are in the realms of fantasy...

Whoa, thats quite expensive.

@frob: thanks for the info!

Edited by TheChubu, 11 December 2012 - 11:27 AM.

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### #34Cornstalks  Members

Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:13 PM

I'm just going to leave this here. And this.

Note that this certainly isn't directed at anyone in this thread. It's directed to the original question of will "a college education will once again be only for the few elites in society" and I'm trying to say no, not if you logically think ahead and actually sensibly plan. But if people continue the trend of idiotically failing to plan for the future, then perhaps the answer is "yes" (but in this case, the "elites" aren't necessarily the wealthy, but rather the logical, sensible ones).
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### #35Riphath  Members

Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:28 AM

I don't know if anyone has mentioned the changes going on with the student loans situation here in the U.S., but there are a lot of things happening just to prevent higher education from becoming a thing of just the super rich. There's the income based repayment plan, which allows you to pay back your federal student loans based on how much money you make. There's also the Student Loan Forgiveness Act, which has just recently been proposed in Congress. It may not be passed, but it would certainly improve the system as it stands now.
But I would have to say that even without all those changes in the system going on to make it more feasible, it's still possible to get an education without giving up an arm and a leg. I'm going to state school right now, but we have one of the best mathematics and engineering departments around. And with federal aid and scholarships, plus the (small amount of) money my step-dad is paying, I only have to have a part-time job to pay for non-school related stuff. So it is very possible to get an education, so long as you don't go to a school you can't afford and know where to find the money.

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