PennStateHoops.com Discussion Forum

OT - College costs


#1

Stanley Fish: [url=http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/15/there-is-no-college-cost-crisis/?hp]There is no college cost crisis[/URL]


#2

I like Stanley, but wow, IMO, he’s off on this. U of Tenn prof, Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, also disagrees.

http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/?s=college+costs


#3

Tim,
So glad you’re back. While I missed your insight into hoops, it’s these side discussions that I’ve really missed debating with you.

So, where do I start??

  1. Tuition costs have consistently been rising at a rate much higher than inflation. Given the fact that everyone is moaning that their paycheck doesn’t go as far as it used to, (which means wage increases haven’t kept up with inflation) there’s no way their premise that the “the difference between income and the cost of college” can be favorable if adjusted for inflation. As one of the messages below the article states, this has to be referring to the actual dollars left over, without regard to the purchasing power of those dollars after inflation.

  2. Educational assistance - one area where they might have a point is the financial aid availability. For private schools, this is how they balance out their student populations. It would be interesting to know what % of tuition payments are covered by financial aid vs. 10 and 20 years ago. My guess is that that the % tuition covered by aid has been going up, so that the net effect is that tuition has been rising but the true cost of college is actually becoming more progressive (like our taxes). This means that those in the lower income scales have more aid opportunity, while the wealthier have to pay a higher share of the total costs. The schools then can assure a more socio-economically balanced student body by doing this.

  3. I like the shot he takes at Boehner Amazing, the guy becomes speaker-elect and all of a sudden I’m reading about him in the Times in a negative fashion, but I digress… plus I didn’t read his study from all those years ago…

  4. COSTS are going up in colleges today… he even admits it later in the article (last 3 paragraphs did kind of confuse me… What point was he trying to make anyway??) but he blames it on having to keep up with technology, HR, and the like. The cost of doing ANYTHING in the US keeps going up, particularly in personnel costs (including healthcare). US companies can and have limited this by moving operations offshore. They’re doing it now by NOT hiring new employees, which is keeping the US unemployment rate high (just like France!!). Universities can’t do this, they’re stuck with the regulatory model where they are. If US manufacturers had to live under similar conditions, I believe that you would see similar cost increases in everything we buy, like cars and TVs, but the global competition has kept the costs of these things down. Therefore, you could argue that the true costs of goods and services of things MADE IN THE US has increased in line with college tuition, but the outsourcing of many tasks to low-cost areas of the world has kept our total inflation much lower thus making college costs LOOK like they’re comparitively rising faster then they really are.

So what’s my conclusion? Costs are up. Tuition is up. Student aid is up. Competition is up. Quality is up (we have the best schools in the world). We’re paying more, and we’re getting more. And of course, the free-marketer in me credits it to the free competition among schools. I wonder what would happen to our high schools if we were able to follow the same model?


#4

Seems like “pie in the sky crappula” to me. Just ask any parent who is currently paying college tuition for a son/daughter. I am!
Loans are very available to kids that go that route. I guess an economist might like this but it a very sharp two edged sword. Debt to youngsters is as bad or worst as debt to adults or governments. Basically death wishes! Universities should be creating HOPE…not death wises (debt.)
The university system is BROKEN in the USA. 80% of college students should be attending Junior Colleges (usually very affordable.) Elite students or serious junior seniors can make up the final 20%.
Colleges should not be in the athletic business.


#5

I think his points are that 1.) regardless of the scary increases compared to other costs, you have to look at the reasons for it, and they are not all bad and B), people are still going to college, so how can we say it is unattainable?

My kid is a teenager and I am certainly not excited or optimistic about what the costs are going to do.

Stanley Fish has got an unbelievable resume and is probably a liberal in the voting booth, but the gist of his blog is about objectively looking at conventional wisdom. He’s pretty good at it, as I have spent a lot of time trying to out argue him (at least in my head) when he steps on my own cherished beliefs.


#6

[quote=“tjb, post:5, topic:1507”]I think his points are that 1.) regardless of the scary increases compared to other costs, you have to look at the reasons for it, and they are not all bad and B), people are still going to college, so how can we say it is unattainable?My kid is a teenager and I am certainly not excited or optimistic about what the costs are going to do.

Stanley Fish has got an unbelievable resume and is probably a liberal in the voting booth, but the gist of his blog is about objectively looking at conventional wisdom. He’s pretty good at it, as I have spent a lot of time trying to out argue him (at least in my head) when he steps on my own cherished beliefs.[/quote]

Tim, Be confident. I don’t know anything about Fish. But if his thinking (see bold) is anything consistent with this then you should have no problem winning debates in your head.
Point #1 ----------Just because many other industries are foolishly inflated does that make ANOTHER foolishly inflated industry good??
Point #2------------The answer is debt. Our society has become a credit/loan society. It seems everything is BANKRUPT. Federal government, state governments. county governments, city governments, businesses, working and non working families. Debt is the strongest industry in our country. Yes, loans are available to students very easily. Does this make it a good thing. Absolutely NOT! Financial debt after graduation is many times a financial life time ruin.
Are you sure he is a liberal??..Doesn’t seem smart enough to me :wink:


#7

The entire economy is indeed built on debt. Your house, your car, your education. Your employers’ ability to borrow short term to manage cash flow. The country’s ability to fight and win World War II. The ability to deficit spend and print money to ignite a recessionary economy.

One big problem with current politics is the simplified view of debt. Without it, we’d be in some feudal economy, or under National Socialist’s rule, or looking at 15% unemployment - pick your poison. Of course - of course - there can be too much debt. But debt by itself isn’t a bad thing. Two-thirds of homes have a mortgage, and that doesn’t count the ones that are owned free and clear because the mortgages were paid off.

As for Fish’s point one, he says that he believed from experience that while technology may drive down costs in other spheres - farming, let’s say - it drives UP costs in the higher ed sphere. You’ve got to own it and employ specialists to take care of it and teach others how to build, extend and create with it. The book he references quantifies it.


#8

Pretty much agree with everyone here. As product of the system myself (and a friend to many people in similar situations as my own), I can say that their findings just do not hold true for most people I’ve met that went to college in the last 10 years. Granted, my sample size might be a tiny bit smaller than anything they worked with in the study, but if there are all these super affordable methods for getting a respectable 4-year degree out there, I would think at least somebody I talked to would be privy to such information.

My grandmother has always told me about my one Uncle being able to pay for his college tuition (at PSU, a few decades before i attended) just by working at a restaurant over the summers between semesters. In order for me to do that, I’d have had to make close to 15k over the summer alone just to cover tuition for fall and winter. 15k over a three month span means I’d be working a 60k(net) a year job, which is way above what the average college graduate can expect to make with a 4-year degree right now fresh out of school, and they typically don’t have many seasonal jobs that offer those kinds of wages I’ve found.

Somebody said you’re paying more to get more? I don’t know what world you’re living in, now you pay more and you get less, because everyone has a 4-year degree. More and more people with bachelors degrees delivering pizzas these days, and yet the price of getting a degree just continues to rise.


#9

There are times when I ponder the financial value of my Penn State degree. Then again, I work for Penn State.


#10

This was the one I had a really hard time with. My company has implemented a LOT of technology, and we wouldn’t do nay of it if it didn’t drive down cost or made us more productive. Why then would it drive UP the costs for universities? Are they using the wrong vendors? are they getting hosed? Now, in terms of having to invest in technology to TEACH, that’s the one that I woudl buy (but wasn’t well articulated) For instance, does PSU have to buy and run full ERP SAP in order to teach it? Then it’s just a sunk cost. Then again, you would think the fine folks at SAP would contoribute to the eduational versions of the technology so that THEIR tech is the one that gets intrenched.

My kids are 14 and 15… I see the debt tsunami coming. My grandfather got through PSU by “working his way through school” Why is it that you never hear of that anymore??? I don’t see how my son could leave the house at 18 and get his own degree, no matter how hard he worked at it (excepting the military, of course) Maybe it’s like was said earlier, the cost is just too high, or maybe there’s more aid so kids don’t have to.


#11

Tim, who needs brick and mortar campuses at all? Can’t people run their own computers? Can’t courses be delivered online? Stanley’s written some great things, but here it seems like he’s protecting his friends. Peter Drucker, RIP, thought colleges were in big trouble. Can you imagine where’d they be if there were no guaranteed Federal student loans? 100 schools over $50k per year? Who could pay that, Saudis? Community colleges are booming in enrollment, with kids going there two years. Online colleges, under attack by having Federal loans possibly being unavailable to them due to their higher delinquency rates(over 40%) despite paying taxes(Phoenix Online U. paid over $400 million in taxes last year) are also booming. IMO, online colleges are under attack by brick and mortar schools at risk of losing applicants due to staggering costs.


#12

Well, speaking from a library employee, purchasing electronic access to materials, especially journals, usually costs a lot more than buying print. Also, most full text databases are packaged like cable networks. You have to buy access to many titles that you do not want in order to get the titles you do. As with print, most academic journals are available electronically from one source and they have you by the short & curlies.

Also, as we try to stay relevant in the digital world, we are often stuck with the reality of doing more (electronically) while still maintaining all past services & print collections with little if any additional staff & funds. For example, when I first started working for the libraries, my job responsibilities did not involve creating and maintaining webpages, assisting with online reference, creating, cataloging and maintaining an PSU digital image database, etc. My other, original job responsibilities have not gone away. some have been relegated to being done half-assed out of necessity. For example, I have to spend less time on collection development, which means my selections for purchasing books are much less informed than before.

The more techie that we get, the longer it takes to train our staff. Our desk manual for our level 2 part time employees is now a 6 inch binder. Supplemented of course by another 2 inch binder for our more advanced level 3 employees.

Also, given the typical academic administrative structure, by the time we get approval to do certain ‘tech’ issues, it is no longer valid. For example, they told us all to get Facebook accounts because that is where the students are. So we all have Facebook accounts, but we have no plan as to how to use Facebook to serve our patrons. There’s a committee or taskforce working on a plan, but by the time it is finalized and approved, Facebook will probably be as relevant as Netscape.


#13

This is why some of the for-profit colleges are under attack, summary from recent GAO report…
"Undercover tests at 15 for-profit colleges found that 4 colleges encouraged fraudulent practices and that all 15 made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to GAO’s undercover applicants. Four undercover applicants were encouraged by college personnel to falsify their financial aid forms to qualify for federal aid–for example, one admissions representative told an applicant to fraudulently remove $250,000 in savings. Other college representatives exaggerated undercover applicants’ potential salary after graduation and failed to provide clear information about the college’s program duration, costs, or graduation rate despite federal regulations requiring them to do so. For example, staff commonly told GAO’s applicants they would attend classes for 12 months a year, but stated the annual cost of attendance for 9 months of classes, misleading applicants about the total cost of tuition. Admissions staff used other deceptive practices, such as pressuring applicants to sign a contract for enrollment before allowing them to speak to a financial advisor about program cost and financing options. However, in some instances, undercover applicants were provided accurate and helpful information by college personnel, such as not to borrow more money than necessary. In addition, GAO’s four fictitious prospective students received numerous, repetitive calls from for-profit colleges attempting to recruit the students when they registered with Web sites designed to link for-profit colleges with prospective students. Once registered, GAO’s prospective students began receiving calls within 5 minutes. One fictitious prospective student received more than 180 phone calls in a month. Calls were received at all hours of the day, as late as 11 p.m. To see video clips of undercover applications and to hear voicemail messages from for-profit college recruiters, see http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-948T. Programs at the for-profit colleges GAO tested cost substantially more for associate’s degrees and certificates than comparable degrees and certificates at public colleges nearby. A student interested in a massage therapy certificate costing $14,000 at a for-profit college was told that the program was a good value. However the same certificate from a local community college cost $520. Costs at private nonprofit colleges were more comparable when similar degrees were offered."
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-948T


#14

This doesn’t have to do with cost, but with the product. IMO, some of the things being taught in college are not what parents want to pay for. This is interview with American History prof at Harvard, Harvey Mansfield. Illuminating, though I’m sure will spark controversy. It’s 33 minutes long.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/09/027228.php


#15

It’s impossible to take anyone who posts links to Glenn Reynolds and PowerLine seriously. QED.


#16

According to the National Council on Education Statistics, the rate of college tuition increase in the U.S. since 1978 has been 200% above the inflation rate. Sorry don’t have the link. I presented my methods classes a questionnaire where this info was given.


#17

[quote=“MarkH, post:3, topic:1507”]Tim,
So glad you’re back. While I missed your insight into hoops, it’s these side discussions that I’ve really missed debating with you.

So, where do I start??

  1. Tuition costs have consistently been rising at a rate much higher than inflation. Given the fact that everyone is moaning that their paycheck doesn’t go as far as it used to, (which means wage increases haven’t kept up with inflation) there’s no way their premise that the “the difference between income and the cost of college” can be favorable if adjusted for inflation. As one of the messages below the article states, this has to be referring to the actual dollars left over, without regard to the purchasing power of those dollars after inflation. [/quote]

I try not to sound overly intelligent. I try to simplify things.

The highlighted passage above is borderline crazy.

What if every grocery store in the counrty tripled it’s prices, and when people complained about how much more everything costs, the grocery store owners would say, “well, look at how much more you can buy with the left over money today than you could 20 years ago. Our prices are still relatively low.”

To me, the problem is the same with the colleges as it is with health care. The bill is not always directly passed to us. It’s paid by such-and-such governement program or such-and-such insurance company. They charge what they want and there is nothing to stop the subdue the charges. It’s passed back to us in the form of taxes and insurance costs.


#18

Mansfield is right. Those who preach tolerance as the be all end all are the least tolerant of opposing views. You just proved his point. Powerline is run by 3 attorneys who were undergrads at Dartmouth, Bernstein, also a Dartmouth grad, is on their board of trustees, elected by alums, not hand picked by the administration (that’s a story in itself). Mansfield has been at Harvard since '49. And I’m the one not to be taken seriously? Should I link to Daily Kos? The Huffington Post?


#19
And I'm the one not to be taken seriously?

Yes. Although I do agree with you for once, we shouldn’t be so tolerant of all viewpoints…