More on College Costs and Student Loans

By Donald A. Collins | 4 December 2022
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

As I began this op ed a Reuters news story by Nate Raymond broke that a “U.S. appeals court rejects Biden’s bid to revive student debt plan.”

“The White House had no immediate comment, but the administration has said that if the 5th Circuit declined to halt Pittman’s order it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene”.

Your can read the full article here.

As my November 30th article described, the escalation in the cost of attending my beloved alma mater Yale has risen faster than inflation, more than doubling in dollars, adjusted for inflation, from the time I graduated in 1953 until now.

Reactions confirming my thesis came immediately from regular readers of my postings on this website.

Here are what three of my responders who shall be nameless but two came with longstanding Yale connections. They said:

Don, completely right, Don. The costs are insane. It would surely have made Swenson’s blood boil.

I thought Biden made an important move, how typical of now that courts seek to thwart it.

We have a Yale connection. Alexander Wilson, my great uncle, was Yale’s quarterback and captain on opening day of the Yale Bowl. He was killed helping to lead Pershing’s Argonne Offensive in WWI as an Army captain.

Don: Thanks for putting meat on the bones. For my BSEE, fortunately in the 60s I had my employers and the GI bill. Cost me about 3800 total. For my JD in 70s employers mainly. Cost me about $2000. For my MFA in 2010 era, I paid over $30,000, myself. Now that’s “inflation” at its finest. My law students now pay about $50,000/yr for 3 years.

Don, my father, who was pretty wise about money, had taken a life insurance policy on himself which paid only if he died between 1948 and 1952. (The years I was, correctly, expected to be in college). That gave him a very favorable premium rate. He did die in 1949, near the end of my freshman year. The benefit paid for all my college, including my additional 2 years at Carnegie Tech.

I don’t remember what the costs were, but I do know that F & M and Carnegie Tech (Now CMU) were and are two of the most expensive colleges in Pennsylvania. F& M, where one of my granddaughters graduated, now has a total annual tuition and fees of $65,650. Room & board and books additional. I don’t think any other ordinary product or service has risen as much as college education. The ready availability of government guaranteed loans and grants has allowed colleges to burden students and families with crazy cost increases and get away with it.

I sent a copy of the article I sent to Wall Street author Joe Pinsker to my 1953 class secretary, Marvin Deckoff who for years has done such a superb job of reporting about our classmates, and to Yale’s President, Peter Salovey ’86 PhD, who apparently by coincidence, just sent out a general mailing about Yale’s For Humanity Campaign two days after my email to his office.

It reported:

Last year Yale got $1.2 billion in gifts, so far in 2022 about $800 million.

The goal for student aid?

“Our goal is ambitious: to raise $1.2 billion during the For Humanity Campaign for student scholarships and fellowships across the university, including the funds raised in FY22 (below), donors have contributed more than $600 million in total so far toward education leaders for a better world.”

Certainly a promising start, but a good distance to go.

This information which you can read here shows major efforts have been made to resolve the financial disparity for students as costs have escalated.

I quote another example from the above university publication on student aid:

For October 2021: “Yale College announces a $3 million expansion of its financial aid policies, increasing aid for a typical student by approximately $7,500 over four years.”

Read the entire article here.

As you can read the amounts now provided to those whose family incomes would not cover the 4-year cost at present rates of $84,000 a year or a total of $336,000.

My starting point for this and my 11/30 piece stemmed an 11/29 Wall Street Journal by Joe Pinsker (in error I accredited his piece to the Washington Post in my 11/30 piece) which says what a difference graduation with no college loan debts vs those who have loans, sometimes burdensome, with my niece who in the 1990’s graduated from Vanderbilt (as did my father with no debt for his 2 years there) with over $80,000 owing.

My point here is not to excoriate these outstanding universities, but to point out that financing their attendance—which is highly competitive as Yale this year had over 50,000 applicants and selected about 2300 (vs about 1300 in my class). I would argue and I suspect most would agree that producing these promising graduates gives significant assets to the future of our democracy that far exceed the costs of fully paying their tuitions.

The lifetime earnings differential shows the gap widening between college vs non-college graduates (about $900,000). Read the other differences here.

But the achievements of people with higher education some make are often beyond money. How about better political decisions based on historical knowledge and the inclination to study current affairs?

Yes, Bill Gates did not graduate from Harvard. See his remarkable story here.

And I am certainly not denigrating those who choose to acquire skills that require no formal academic training.

But surely offering students more education and less debt encumbrances still provides the most plausible policy for learning institutions to enhance for the benefit of us all! Hope Biden’s initial efforts can prevail against the current court decision.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?” and “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”.

U.S. appeals court rejects Biden’s bid to revive student debt plan | U.S. News | USA | Joe Biden

The Student Debt Dilemma | CBS Reports

Growing Number Of Americans Questioning The Value Of College Degree

Why Republicans Oppose Student Loan Cancellation

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