Should they be occupying universities?

by Grace

Many of the protesting 99 Percent” who are occupying Wall Street complain of staggering student debt.

According to The College Board, average annual in-state tuition and fees at four-year public universities increased by 72% over the past decade. Four-year private college tuition is up by more than 34% over the same time period, during which inflation rose only around 25%.

If banks have played a role in escalating costs that are fueling the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, is higher education blameless?  Universities have clearly failed to focus on keeping college affordable.

… Instead, it’s all about build, expand, rinse and repeat. After all, U.S. News & World Report doesn’t reward affordability.

But maybe the protestors should be occupying K Street?

Companies that are successful lobbying the Washington DC apparatus are simply playing off big government. To kill the effect of lobbying, skewer the beast and make government smaller.

Or looking in the mirror?

“Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed,” the ex-Godfather’s Pizza CEO declared.

ADDED:  Maybe they can start by actually voting.

… only 24% of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in the 2010 mid-term elections….

It wasn’t Wall Street that created easy-to-get student loans and gave young people and incentive to apply for them, the government did that. It wasn’t Wall Street that has made college tuition so absurdly high that four years of student loans ends up creating a crushing debt load, for the most part government did that too. It wasn’t Wall Street that created the monetary conditions that made the Housing bubble possible and used Fannie Mae and Freedie Mac to encourage banks to give out loans to people who shouldn’t have gotten them, government did that. It’s not Wall Street that is saddling their generation with a crushing National Debt and an entitlement system that is unsustainable in its current form, government is doing that.

UPDATE:  Related – Impact of staggering growth of student loans on our children’s future


9 Comments to “Should they be occupying universities?”

  1. I updated the post with a bit about voting.


  2. You are LIVING this administrative bloat takeover of higher education!


  3. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot.

    As far as I can tell, no one knows why college costs escalated so far beyond inflation for so many years. Andrew Ferguson, in Crazy U, quotes Richard Vedder as saying colleges charge as much as they do pretty much because “they can.”

    So the question is: why **can** they charge as much as they do? What makes this state of affairs possible?

    I would like to know the answer.

    At the moment, I believe at least two or possibly three factors have played the major roles:

    * loss of blue-collar jobs to emerging economies
    * advent of students loans available to all

    My neighbor told me that when she was 18 she couldn’t even get a credit card.

    Today she could get $87,000 in non-dischargeable loans.

    I assume colleges took all those billions in loan money and spent and spent and spent.

    The little college I teach in, where nearly all students are attending on loans and relatively few have college-level skills coming in, has major building plans even in the midst of a depression (which is my preferred term for the situation we are in).


  4. I am now completely off the “college for all” boat, particularly in terms of jobs. Our economy needs good jobs for people without college degrees, which is what we had when I was a child.

    I agree with Goldin and Katz’s research showing that more education is good for everyone; they were the first to show that blue collar workers became better blue collar workers when they were better educated. More education makes better factor workers, in other words.

    However, I no longer agree with the conclusion that, as a matter of policy, we should send blue collar jobs overseas and rely on higher education to turn all U.S. citizens into educated professionals. This approach hasn’t worked, and I don’t believe it’s going to work — certainly not in the foreseeable future.

    I now see the disappearance of well-paid blue collar jobs as a tragedy.


  5. If government-guaranteed debt had not supported it, we would not have all these lower tier schools pumping up administrative and facility costs while increasing tuition to stratospheric levels. Yes, this money helped some students get a truly good education, but it mostly lowered the quality and made higher education less accessible to the middle class.


  6. Me too, off the “college for all” boat. Turning all citizens into educated professionals – nope, don’t see that happening.


  7. If parents and their kids want to pay gobs of money for a poor college education, I don’t have much of a problem as long as taxpayers don’t subsidize them in the various ways they do now, including guaranteed loans.

    Email me!


  8. It’s different for me in that I support taxpayer-funded K-12 education for all, so I’m willing to fund that. No doubt many parents would make poor choices if vouchers gave them them the freedom to choose their chldren’s schools, but like Steve Jobs I don’t think kids would be worse off than they are in the present system. Plus, I believe that over the long term the market would nudge our schools to improve overall.


  9. This all would depend on keeping government spending in check, which could be a problem . . .


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