Friday, September 09, 2011

The Educational-Industrial Complex

This AP article should make people rethink college and how it's funded.  For example:

 - A human development and family services major in his junior year at Colorado State realizes he will owe about $125,000 when he graduates.  In order to pay of the debt, he's joining the military so he has a guaranteed job to pay off his loans.

Who would pay over $125,000 for a human development and family services degree from Colorado State? Well, this guy did, and he's not alone.  And that's just the portion for which taxpayers are responsible if he defaults.  It doesn't include the federal subsidies, his out of pocket costs, his work study, etc.  He doesn't need that degree to get a job in the military, and probably won't be using a human development degree while he's there.  Why not quit college now and enlist, instead of racking up two more years of out of state tuition?

- Two years ago, 30% of California's higher education cost was paid for by federal stimulus funds, and now they are facing huge shortfalls.

Despite the fact that these funds were temporary, California (and many other states) refused to make the necessary adjustments to deal with reality.  Were they counting on federal bailouts forever?

- Dan Hurley, an executive for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities claims it will be the hardest year on record for cash-strapped colleges.

Mind-boggling.  Colleges are selling a product - education.  

Think about this:

1)   This product has never been in higher demand
2)   The price of this product has increased dramatically and consistently for decades
3)   This product receives enormous government subsidies at the local, state, and federal levels
4)   Many colleges pay few, if any, taxes on their operations
5)   Colleges are supported by charitable donations
6)   The federal government co-signs a blank check for any potential customers for their products

There is not a single private industry with such favorable conditions.  The medical industry, military industry, and housing industry are the closest.  But even they pay taxes and aren't supported by charity. 

Yet colleges claim they've never had it harder. We need to ask why.

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