Photo: Flickr / keithusc
As America’s student loan debt spirals out of control—the last time we checked, it topped $1 trillion—the debate over whether a college degree is worth it drags on. Student loan rates are scheduled to double for millions of Americans in just a few days, and President Obama still hasn’t found legislation to keep those rates fixed at 3.4 per cent. At the heart of the matter are students young and old who face mounting debt payments without sufficient means to pay them off. But colleges haven’t made things easier by raising tuition, said Kevin Carey, director of Education Policy at the New America Foundation.
In a recent interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, Carey pointed out two things that are causing this spike: a push for prestige and putting too many people on payroll.
Colleges are “always building things” to expand their campus, explained Carey, noting how they constantly make pricey grabs for land and revamp old buildings. As far as payroll goes, today’s colleges employ more deans, assistant deans, and provosts than he ever saw them do 20 or 30 years ago.
“I’m sure that most of those people are working hard at real jobs,” he said, but “the more the prices go up, the more that these students who are squeezed out of opportunity are middle-income students, low-income students, and the net effect over time is to make our college and university system no longer the engine of economic mobility that it once was.”
High tuition costs aren’t the only issue facing college students these days. A fascinating report in The New York Times recently argued that misleading marketing and admissions letters lure bright-eyed students into debt by assuring them their return on investment will outweigh the cost.
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