Friday, May 22, 2015

Fallacious Claim: Infusion of Funds to State Universities Would Solve the Student Loan Debt Crisis

Even when something is well-intentioned, the outcome can oftentimes turn out nefarious, or rather nefarious people can wind up benefiting. That is especially true when it comes to policy decisions and the disbursement of funds, even when the intentions are - as already stated - admirable.

One such example is the argument about state funds and budget cuts to state funded universities. Expert argue that if states were infused with cash and the coffers for institutions of higher learning were replenished, then somehow the student loan debt crisis would be solved. At least this solution is implied in a slew of studies about the way in which tuition has skyrocketed in recent years vis-a-vis state budget cuts on expenditures for higher education. One study argues that "a primary driver of student debt continues to be reduced state expenditures on higher education." Perhaps there is a correlation, but who is to say that if, as noted, the coffers were replenished, these institutions would allocate those funds to the right place, i.e., to the pockets of the students as well as students who have graduated, the ones who truly need it in order to obtain an education and pay down the debts they accrued as result of gaining said education?

It is problematic and frankly false to assume that these institutions would actually use the funds to cut the cost of tuition. What would compel them to do that? Is there anything by law that would ensure that they would cut costs that are astronomically high when they could benefit from them in other ways? The short answer: I doubt it.

So, to put it bluntly, an infusion of cash would not solve the student loan debt crisis. Chances are, the universities would use the funds to create even more bloated administrations, erect more buildings, basically spend it on anything other than to cover the costs of students or current borrowers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stop Ignoring the Indentured Educated Class

So, all the politicians and the know-it-alls and the pundits and everybody and their dogs are yapping and yapping and yapping about the student loan crisis. These people and their dogs can't stop yapping about the student crisis. That's all dandy, right? Wrong. It isn't dandy. It isn't dandy at all, because they keep missing the target. Again, this is the problem with platitudinous language about the future, and how the future is going to be better for future students and future borrowers. This has always been a problem with a lot of slick politicians, and they just keep getting slicker, because most of them - not all - just talk out both sides of their mouths. Again, I said most. I didn't say all.

So, what is the target? What are these people and their dogs, who are all yapping about the student loan debt crisis missing? Welp, they continue to ignore the over 40 million people with outstanding student loan debt! That's what! I was at a closed meeting about student loan debt, a lunch rather, many many months ago. It was after a hard snow had hit D.C. And I brought up my continued concern about the current borrowers - I call us collateral damage - and you know what some guy said to me? Here's what the guy said, "Oh, well, we have IBR, that's all taken care of. It isn't really a problem."

Oh, really? You say? It isn't a problem? I had some trouble picking my jaw up from the floor after this absurd and fallacious remark was made. But this is the attitude in D.C. This is the line that they want everyone to believe. Because they don't want the politicians and anyone who actually gives a shit to do the hard work now. Because if we did the hard work now, and we worked on the people who are struggling with the current debt, then we'd really have to put our heads together and stop yapping about bullshit in the future.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's all well and good to be talking about debt free community college and debt free college in general - that's pretty dandy (I am in full support of these initiatives as a matter of fact). But let's not forget about the damned current borrowers. We're all clever folks. I know we are. But even the problem solvers and the ones who have hearts are being blinded by a poor narrative, one that wants them all to believe that they can't solve the problem of the current student loan debt crisis for those who have the debt.

In short, don't forget about the current borrowers. Don't consider us collateral damage. 

‘Collateral damage is a by-product of what you target. And the damage to a generation of children is an inevitable result of the target chosen by those who govern us.’ Photograph: Getty Images
Getty Images

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quick Musings

Since I have been an educator in the past, I've known a number of people - friends as well as professional contacts - who have taught in the for-profit sector. These instructors are incredibly dedicated to their students and to the curriculum they create, and they also understand how they fit into a totally corrupt system.

This is an interesting piece about the concern a teacher who taught at a Corinthian College has for her former students. Michelle Wallace, who taught for 7 years at one of its campuses in the Bay Area, said, "I'm just worried about the students: They're the ones who really got screwed in all of this." Right now, their fate is uncertain, and the Department of Education, especially the Secretary, is playing dumb when it comes to forgiving their loans and setting the record straight.

On a side-note, the focus on the for-profits is lopsided and too extreme. The formal assault on higher education should be on all the institutions and how their tax structures, among other structural issues, allow them to bilk students as well as taxpayers. That should be the focus. It is too easy to bash the for-profits. The systemic problems are widespread and not just related to them. In addition, when we use the term "non-profit," we should realize how utterly naive it is to use such terminology. It's simply anachronistic.

While there are differences, we should target the non-profits as well. They too are part of this mess, and that should not be forgotten or swept under the rug.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Facts: Outstanding Student Loan Debt

According to the Federal Reserve of New York from yesterday, outstanding student loan debt is now at $1.19 trillion.

Report here.