How we can make college education 'free' for all who want it.

unIowa

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Average earnings for a bachelors degree is $2.8mm over ones working life (according to google search I just did). So if someone wants 'free education' they can get it, and they will 100% qualify regardless of their parents earnings. They only have to pay an added 5% tax on their gross income over their working career (SSI and IRA/401K income wouldn't need to pay this tax). This equates to $150k in payback to tax payers for the 'free' education they recieved.

Don't want to pay that 5% income tax over your working life, great, just pay for college yourself and you won't be subject to the tax. This is a win win solution and creates high investment in our youth with a funding mechinism that will create a positive feedback loop on itself. But it would be everyones choice on if they wanted to do it or not, and I am definately pro-choice.
 
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onlyTheObvious

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Make it free and a degree is worthless.

who sets tuition ? If I was UNI I would set tuition at $100,000. Government pays. It’s easy money.

my guess is “the bill” would be applauded and completely not paid for. Adding trillions more to the debt.

would you include private colleges? If not you just signed the execution orders on thousands of colleges and millions of jobs and destroyed thousands of communities.

2 years of junior college (online saves even more money) and two years at the state school you live in is not a lifelong financial nuclear bomb. If it is, you never should have gone to college and colleges need to weed out future students like you.

you would have to be a moron to pay a 5% tax the rest of your working life for free college. Run the numbers in a spreadsheet and assume you could take that 5% and get 7%-8% a year if invested.
 
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thewop

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All who want it? No.

College isn't for everyone. Skilled trades are vastly underrated, and are quickly closing the wage gap. Automotive Service Technicians at dealerships are making 6 figures.
I read it and didn't like his plan at all, but...

His plan solves for your scenario. You don't have to pay the 5% tax if you don't go.

It also means people who make more pay more, and those who make less pay less, which offsets the value of the education. Arguably that's how it should be.

It doesn't solve for colleges inflating costs, and doesn't stop them from degrading quality, since suddenly prestige is taken from the equation a bit, because whether you go to Harvard or Arkansas State, you pay the same.

Nobody would ever go for straight 5% for all. It would almost instantly go to debates over discounts for minority populations, tax deductions for gender affirming surgery or refunds for those laid off.

I see some positive in the concept, but can't imagine it being successfully implemented.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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How about we go back to funding public universities like we used to?

So based on some research the average cost of public college tuition in 1970 was $394 dollars per year. Using an inflation calculator it appears that works out to a cost of about $3,000 a year now.

So how about we make it a point to direct our public funds so that in state college costs $3,000 a year? Then students could either legitimately work their way through college or they could pay the loans off within 5 to 10 years of graduation.

I don't believe we have to make college free. I do believe we should make it affordable. (For the record the average cost of a state school now is $10,560.)
 

BrunoMars420

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Average earnings for a bachelors degree is $2.8mm over ones working life (according to google search I just did). So if someone wants 'free education' they can get it, and they will 100% qualify regardless of their parents earnings. They only have to pay an added 5% tax on their gross income over their working career (SSI and IRA/401K income wouldn't need to pay this tax). This equates to $150k in payback to tax payers for the 'free' education they recieved.

Don't want to pay that 5% income tax over your working life, great, just pay for college yourself and you won't be subject to the tax. This is a win win solution and creates high investment in our youth with a funding mechinism that will create a positive feedback loop on itself. But it would be everyones choice on if they wanted to do it or not, and I am definately pro-choice.
For trade schools/community colleges we need more partnerships within those local communities. We should subsidize careers that are in need within each of these communities. Any business that helps with payment should be able to do so tax free since they are investing in education and the local economy by training these young adults. On the other side the young person that goes through this has to sign a contract to work for said company for minimum 5 years or else they have to pay their education out of pocket. This keeps the taxpayer cost down but still benefits society as a whole.

For bachelor degrees, use the same concept on only subsidizing careers in need. Only difference for this would be the tax payer would need to be on the hook for whatever the % is. Use the federal government to help with recruitment nationwide for these jobs and any company that uses this recruitment program pays whatever the amount is to run it. If the young person flunks out then they are on the hook.

For higher education use the same process we use now but encourage the private sector to invest in their human capital by giving them certain incentives for them to pay the Masters degree.

Any program that isn’t subsidized will need to be paid out of pocket. But the caveat to all of this is we need to put price controls in for public universities. Everyone gives shit to oil companies for price gouging but the public universities are just as bad imo. We need to have a better underwriting process for giving out loans and we need to cut out a lot of the elective BS college force you to take.
 
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Pheidippides

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If a degree is worth $2.8M paying for it is no problem. The real problem is that most degrees are not worth that, and making college free just encourages more people to pursue the worthless degrees. Isn’t the point of going to college to get to the point where you’re NOT a drain on resources?
 
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Derekd3408

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How about we go back to funding public universities like we used to?

So based on some research the average cost of public college tuition in 1970 was $394 dollars per year. Using an inflation calculator it appears that works out to a cost of about $3,000 a year now.

So how about we make it a point to direct our public funds so that in state college costs $3,000 a year? Then students could either legitimately work their way through college or they could pay the loans off within 5 to 10 years of graduation.

I don't believe we have to make college free. I do believe we should make it affordable. (For the record the average cost of a state school now is $10,560.)
What was the average energy cost, construction cost, professor salary, in 1970? I'm guessing those things haven't progressed with your average inflation. Maybe I'm wrong, but you just can't punch numbers into a calculator and say this is what something should be without working in all the factors. 40k isn't that bad for an education, people are buying 40k cars out of college.
 
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artradley

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Average earnings for a bachelors degree is $2.8mm over ones working life (according to google search I just did). So if someone wants 'free education' they can get it, and they will 100% qualify regardless of their parents earnings. They only have to pay an added 5% tax on their gross income over their working career (SSI and IRA/401K income wouldn't need to pay this tax). This equates to $150k in payback to tax payers for the 'free' education they recieved.

Don't want to pay that 5% income tax over your working life, great, just pay for college yourself and you won't be subject to the tax. This is a win win solution and creates high investment in our youth with a funding mechinism that will create a positive feedback loop on itself. But it would be everyones choice on if they wanted to do it or not, and I am definately pro-choice.

I applaud the effort - that's a creative and rational idea.
 
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Hoosierhawkeye

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What was the average energy cost, construction cost, professor salary, in 1970? I'm guessing those things haven't progressed with your average inflation. Maybe I'm wrong, but you just can't punch numbers into a calculator and say this is what something should be without working in all the factors. 40k isn't that bad for an education, people are buying 40k cars out of college.

I'm guessing the ones buying 40k cars out of college are the ones who probably don't have student loans in the first place.

And the inflation adjusted salary of college professors has only gone up 9.5%. Certainly not enough to explain why college is inflation adjusted 350% more expensive now.

 
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Derekd3408

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I'm guessing the ones buying 40k cars out of college are the ones who probably don't have student loans in the first place.

And the inflation adjusted salary of college professors has only gone up 9.5%. Certainly not enough to explain why college is inflation adjusted 350% more expensive now.

I know 3 people currently that have 40k+ cars in the driveway of a 280k house. They bitch weekly about not being able to afford to pay their student loans. There are definetly people who struggle, and I sympathize with them, but we have a financial responsibility problem in this country, not a student loan issue. Again, I know there are people legitimately struggling, but many are not. 40k for an education is not a bad price if we cap interest at 2% and allow them 20 years to pay it off. People have no problem taking out a 30 year mortgage because it's an investment, so is education.
 
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Hoosierhawkeye

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I know 3 people currently that have 40k+ cars in the driveway of a 280k house. They bitch weekly about not being able to afford to pay their student loans. There are definetly people who struggle, and I sympathize with them, but we have a financial responsibility problem in this country, not a student loan issue. Again, I know there are people legitimately struggling, but many are not. 40k for an education is not a bad price if we cap interest at 2% and allow them 20 years to pay it off. People have no problem taking out a 30 year mortgage because it's an investment, so is education.

Well that's on them.

But regardless $40k for this investment is still a major problem.

How come our parents had to pay so much less for their investment. Same thing with homes.

No wonder millenials have only about 5% of the wealth in this country when at the same age boomers had 30% of the wealth. We keep making everything more expensive on the younger generations and just keep excusing it like it's no big deal. Then we make fun of them because they live at their parents til they are 30.
 

srams21

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I know 3 people currently that have 40k+ cars in the driveway of a 280k house. They bitch weekly about not being able to afford to pay their student loans. There are definetly people who struggle, and I sympathize with them, but we have a financial responsibility problem in this country, not a student loan issue. Again, I know there are people legitimately struggling, but many are not. 40k for an education is not a bad price if we cap interest at 2% and allow them 20 years to pay it off. People have no problem taking out a 30 year mortgage because it's an investment, so is education.
Well then those people are dumb. I'm in my mid 30s and I've never paid more than ~20k for a car. Buying a new car is fine but not when you are 22 and have student loan debt.
 
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Nole Lou

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I'm not sure this idea is quite fleshed out, but there is an interesting kernel of an idea here. I would like to see something in this nature applied to for profit colleges. Most of the student loans being held by poor and minority borrowers are for useless degrees from predatory for-profit colleges. These are the loans that are crippling people, where underinformed prospective students are suckered by scam colleges for meaningless degrees.

I would immediately disqualify for profit colleges from accepting student loans, and require them to replace it with something of this nature. Require them to post an expected income for each of their "degrees":

Fashion Design: $60k
Dental Assistant: $50k
VCR Repair: $50k

Etc. And then that degree is paid for by like 5% of every dollar over the posted income up to a certain payoff amount. If the graduate doesn't land a job in the field they promise at the salary they promise (which they virtually never do) the grift, I mean college, doesn't see a single dime.

That would clean up this scam for profit college system real quick.
 

INXS83

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Average earnings for a bachelors degree is $2.8mm over ones working life (according to google search I just did). So if someone wants 'free education' they can get it, and they will 100% qualify regardless of their parents earnings. They only have to pay an added 5% tax on their gross income over their working career (SSI and IRA/401K income wouldn't need to pay this tax). This equates to $150k in payback to tax payers for the 'free' education they recieved.

Don't want to pay that 5% income tax over your working life, great, just pay for college yourself and you won't be subject to the tax. This is a win win solution and creates high investment in our youth with a funding mechinism that will create a positive feedback loop on itself. But it would be everyones choice on if they wanted to do it or not, and I am definately pro-choice.
We shouldn't. We should be asking how to make college more affordable.
 
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Hoosierhawkeye

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We shouldn't. We should be asking how to make college more affordable.

I don't understand why there is this obsession to just find different ways to extract money from college students who's parents can't afford to pay tuition instead of finding a way to make the cost of college about the same as it was in the 1970's after adjusting for interest.
 
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Herky T Hawk

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Ran some math on this using some assumptions.
1. Starting base salary for college graduates of $40,000 / year.
2. Annual raises of 2% per year. Those two numbers combine to make close to the $2.8MM career earnings for a college graduate that the OP mentioned.
3. Discount rate of 3%.
4. 85% of base salary left after SSI, Medicare, 401k.

Over a 45 year career, the actual extra 5% tax paid is about $122k. But the present value of the 5% extra tax that person paid to Uncle Sam is just about $60k. Do we as tax payers want to take that on? Ideally the positive value driven to society is higher than the extra $60k in taxes, so it should be worth it. That's the entire point of public schools. I could see this being a possible part of a proposal that combines with a way to limit the increase in cost of education at public schools. Dormitories shouldn't be "luxury palaces" that many of the new ones being built are but rather places that students can live for a few years(without roaches or mice).

For the arguments about funding public colleges better which I agree with, this would be a part of the way of paying for that funding. The problem is that many people think that they will be an exception that earns $250k per year and the career 5% will hurt them more than the average person, so they will be against it. Similar to the people against raising taxes on the wealthy because they might be wealthy some day, but don't understand how almost impossible it is to make it to that wealth level.
 
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I have to laugh at the "free" concept. The further away you remove the benefactor from the actual bill the more expense it will get. Cloaking the cost of education with more middlemen and bloated administrations within a bureaucracy to handle the "free" part will only make it more costly for everyone.
 
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tarheelbybirth

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No wonder millenials have only about 5% of the wealth in this country when at the same age boomers had 30% of the wealth. We keep making everything more expensive on the younger generations and just keep excusing it like it's no big deal. Then we make fun of them because they live at their parents til they are 30.
And if you make it "white boomers", the percentage is far, FAR higher than 30%. Their parents and grandparents got generous govt help when they were younger that allowed them to establish a basis for accumulated and transferable wealth later in life. Then they bitch and whine when help is offered to this younger generation.
 

desihawk

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One way to reduce college costs is to turn basic courses, particularly non-lab, into online learning. And don't reinvent the wheel. Universities should license MIT opencourseware or any one of many outstanding online course offering -- accept passing grades for credits. Restructure 4-year programs such that students really need to attend only a couple years worth classes on campus. There will be some kinks to work out and some downsides as well but overall this would be a good direction.
 

theiacowtipper

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For trade schools/community colleges we need more partnerships within those local communities. We should subsidize careers that are in need within each of these communities. Any business that helps with payment should be able to do so tax free since they are investing in education and the local economy by training these young adults. On the other side the young person that goes through this has to sign a contract to work for said company for minimum 5 years or else they have to pay their education out of pocket. This keeps the taxpayer cost down but still benefits society as a whole.

For bachelor degrees, use the same concept on only subsidizing careers in need. Only difference for this would be the tax payer would need to be on the hook for whatever the % is. Use the federal government to help with recruitment nationwide for these jobs and any company that uses this recruitment program pays whatever the amount is to run it. If the young person flunks out then they are on the hook.

For higher education use the same process we use now but encourage the private sector to invest in their human capital by giving them certain incentives for them to pay the Masters degree.

Any program that isn’t subsidized will need to be paid out of pocket. But the caveat to all of this is we need to put price controls in for public universities. Everyone gives shit to oil companies for price gouging but the public universities are just as bad imo. We need to have a better underwriting process for giving out loans and we need to cut out a lot of the elective BS college force you to take.
This is done already. Of the 11 students in my paramedic class, 9 are paying no tuition directly. It’s pod by their current or prospective future employers. The other two are veterans with the GI bill. Our local hospital just donated 10 million to fund nursing education. They are developing paid internships for nursing students. The only catch is that have to sit for an interview, read sales pitch, at the end of the program.

Other programs here are similar. Auto tech, welding, et Al.
 

theiacowtipper

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One way to reduce college costs is to turn basic courses, particularly non-lab, into online learning. And don't reinvent the wheel. Universities should license MIT opencourseware or any one of many outstanding online course offering -- accept passing grades for credits. Restructure 4-year programs such that students really need to attend only a couple years worth classes on campus. There will be some kinks to work out and some downsides as well but overall this would be a good direction.
The last I knew online programs were more expensive than brick and mortar. I know that at Iowa, at least up until recently, online tuition was more than in person.
 

theiacowtipper

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I know 3 people currently that have 40k+ cars in the driveway of a 280k house. They bitch weekly about not being able to afford to pay their student loans. There are definetly people who struggle, and I sympathize with them, but we have a financial responsibility problem in this country, not a student loan issue. Again, I know there are people legitimately struggling, but many are not. 40k for an education is not a bad price if we cap interest at 2% and allow them 20 years to pay it off. People have no problem taking out a 30 year mortgage because it's an investment, so is education.
The student loan program needs to be revisited. I’m not smart enough to figure out details. An ex student of mine has two parent that died in a car accident when he was a teenager. He is about done at Iowa and has an early acceptance to medical school. Since his parents died, he has access to full pell grants and subsidized loans. The only thing is that his grandparents are paying for every dime of his college. He used the money for a new car and bought a house in Iowa City.
 

desihawk

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The last I knew online programs were more expensive than brick and mortar. I know that at Iowa, at least up until recently, online tuition was more than in person.
did not realize that payday lender businesses had entered higher education...:)
when i say online, i mean based on recorded lessons and automated tests. just replicating the classroom live model is worthless...
 

mthawkeyes

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Fourmile Creek
This reminds me a lot of the health care debate. Naysayers declare things unworkable, unreasonable, or impossible that are actually being done in most other developed nations.
 
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theiacowtipper

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did not realize that payday lender businesses had entered higher education...:)
when i say online, i mean based on recorded lessons and automated tests. just replicating the classroom live model is worthless...
I agree your sentiment. One thing that the MOOCs don’t do well is assessment. They simply provide an opportunity to learn.

A basic requirement of college accreditation is that we show that students learn. We can’t just say, well they were in the classroom for 51 total hours in a semester and they should receive 3 hours of college credit. We have to be able to show that student learning occurred. How can those courses do that? How can we show that student learning occurred?

That’s why those courses don’t count for college credit, in most circumstances.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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And if you make it "white boomers", the percentage is far, FAR higher than 30%. Their parents and grandparents got generous govt help when they were younger that allowed them to establish a basis for accumulated and transferable wealth later in life. Then they bitch and whine when help is offered to this younger generation.

Collectively the boomers have climbed the ladder and pulled it up behind them.
 
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Hawkeyenuts66

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Average earnings for a bachelors degree is $2.8mm over ones working life (according to google search I just did). So if someone wants 'free education' they can get it, and they will 100% qualify regardless of their parents earnings. They only have to pay an added 5% tax on their gross income over their working career (SSI and IRA/401K income wouldn't need to pay this tax). This equates to $150k in payback to tax payers for the 'free' education they recieved.

Don't want to pay that 5% income tax over your working life, great, just pay for college yourself and you won't be subject to the tax. This is a win win solution and creates high investment in our youth with a funding mechinism that will create a positive feedback loop on itself. But it would be everyones choice on if they wanted to do it or not, and I am definately pro-choice.
What do you consider working life? What if they inherit a boat load 5 years after they graduate and they retire. Are they done paying? If they have the ability to earn 2.8 million they should be able to pay their debts with no problems.
 

desihawk

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I agree your sentiment. One thing that the MOOCs don’t do well is assessment. They simply provide an opportunity to learn.

A basic requirement of college accreditation is that we show that students learn. We can’t just say, well they were in the classroom for 51 total hours in a semester and they should receive 3 hours of college credit. We have to be able to show that student learning occurred. How can those courses do that? How can we show that student learning occurred?

That’s why those courses don’t count for college credit, in most circumstances.
it can be a combination of attendance hours and an automated test (like for any run of the mill certification)
so the student attends full-blown recorded lectures (say from MIT open courseware), takes tests (either from mit or even local university) and they are done. these days platforms to even run proctored exams are available for minimal fees.
imo doable for 200-1000$ per course. doing this at scale can cut costs (and fees) down astronomically while providing a great education.
paying 50-100K per year to learn basic material (that frequently gets taught by TAs anyway) is unnecessary. and yes, i do realize it will cause quite an upheaval and change from the way things are currently done -- so there will be resistance to go in this direction no doubt.
 

BrunoMars420

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This is done already. Of the 11 students in my paramedic class, 9 are paying no tuition directly. It’s pod by their current or prospective future employers. The other two are veterans with the GI bill. Our local hospital just donated 10 million to fund nursing education. They are developing paid internships for nursing students. The only catch is that have to sit for an interview, read sales pitch, at the end of the program.

Other programs here are similar. Auto tech, welding, et Al.
Yeah I understand that on the 2 year degrees but it needs to be the norm imo. On top of what I stated we need to implement this strategy on a national level for bachelor degrees.
 

theiacowtipper

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it can be a combination of attendance hours and an automated test (like for any run of the mill certification)
so the student attends full-blown recorded lectures (say from MIT open courseware), takes tests (either from mit or even local university) and they are done. these days platforms to even run proctored exams are available for minimal fees.
imo doable for 200-1000$ per course. doing this at scale can cut costs (and fees) down astronomically while providing a great education.
paying 50-100K per year to learn basic material (that frequently gets taught by TAs anyway) is unnecessary. and yes, i do realize it will cause quite an upheaval and change from the way things are currently done -- so there will be resistance to go in this direction no doubt.
Forcing a student to do a proctored exam is a violation of privacy, according to a federal court. Having a proctored exam is significantly more expensive than you estimated. Maybe that cost per person.

I’m not against these massive online courses. Just that they aren’t a panacea.
 
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theiacowtipper

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Yeah I understand that on the 2 year degrees but it needs to be the norm imo. On top of what I stated we need to implement this strategy on a national level for bachelor degrees.
I know it was true until at least fairly recently, but Uihc guarantees jobs for their nursing grads.
 

Derekd3408

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Well then those people are dumb. I'm in my mid 30s and I've never paid more than ~20k for a car. Buying a new car is fine but not when you are 22 and have student loan debt.
I agree, and that was my point. We have a financial responsibility problem in this country. People would rather keep up with the Jonses than pay their student loan debt. People are paying the bare minimum on student loans to be able to afford all the nice stuff. This isn't me guessing, im seeing this first hand at my new job.
 

desihawk

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Forcing a student to do a proctored exam is a violation of privacy, according to a federal court. Having a proctored exam is significantly more expensive than you estimated. Maybe that cost per person.

I’m not against these massive online courses. Just that they aren’t a panacea.
yes i meant for each person per course -- proctoring by itself should not run any more than 50-70$ per person/exam.
for e.g. microsoft's online exams are currently online proctored -- i don't think there are laws that prohibit this -- yes, the student will have to accept license terms. the platform monitors with camera, microphone, and sets other critieria that must be met during the examination. the experience i am told is very good and convenient.
i think this is the platform https://home.pearsonvue.com/Test-takers/OnVUE-online-proctoring.aspx
 

ConvenientParking

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This reminds me a lot of the health care debate. Naysayers declare things unworkable, unreasonable, or impossible that are actually being done in most other developed nations.
This is the real point that matters. We think education should be about social stratification and making money rather than having an educated population for its own sake.
 

srams21

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I agree, and that was my point. We have a financial responsibility problem in this country. People would rather keep up with the Jonses than pay their student loan debt. People are paying the bare minimum on student loans to be able to afford all the nice stuff. This isn't me guessing, im seeing this first hand at my new job.
I don't disagree but society makes that pretty hard not to honestly. Firstly, we do need to realize that even adjusted for inflation, it is much costlier today for young adults than it was 40 or 50 years ago. For example, there are very few new homes being built that are of the 1200 sq. foot 3 BR, 1 Bath variety that was so common in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

I do think we need a push towards that but not enough people are wanting that to make it a trend. It seems like its either tiny houses or McMansions.
 
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theiacowtipper

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yes i meant for each person per course -- proctoring by itself should not run any more than 50-70$ per person/exam.
for e.g. microsoft's online exams are currently online proctored -- i don't think there are laws that prohibit this -- yes, the student will have to accept license terms. the platform monitors with camera, microphone, and sets other critieria that must be met during the examination. the experience i am told is very good and convenient.
i think this is the platform https://home.pearsonvue.com/Test-takers/OnVUE-online-proctoring.aspx

 

UKGrad93

HR Legend
Jun 20, 2007
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How about we go back to funding public universities like we used to?

So based on some research the average cost of public college tuition in 1970 was $394 dollars per year. Using an inflation calculator it appears that works out to a cost of about $3,000 a year now.

So how about we make it a point to direct our public funds so that in state college costs $3,000 a year? Then students could either legitimately work their way through college or they could pay the loans off within 5 to 10 years of graduation.

I don't believe we have to make college free. I do believe we should make it affordable. (For the record the average cost of a state school now is $10,560.)
I agree that public colleges should be funded better which should drive tuition down. I'm not sure that I agree with the numbers that you have extrapolated from 1970.

Other than funding, there are things that have changed about colleges since 1970. Colleges now have IT departments, internet, servers, not just a computer lab in the science or engineering building. Colleges now have to follow more stringent health & safety laws in their laboratories. Colleges used to dump hazardous waste down the sink or throw drums in the woods. There is a cost to doing that stuff the right way. These aren't huge, and certainly don't account for all of the inflation that we've seen over the past 30-50 yrs. I would guess that college athletics is also a driver of some of the costs. A big place like Iowa can have a self-sustaining athletics department, but a smaller school can't.

Anyhow, I graduated with loan debt equivalent to a 3 yr old used car (Toyota Camry if you're wondering). The interest rate was about 9%.
 

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