QueenTiye, on Mar 25 2010, 10:59 PM, said:
I tend to agree, at least theoretically with the way college tuition are inflated due to student loans. I say theoretically, because there is a whole host of things I think that colleges should be doing and which need loads of money (I want less private research, and more public research, for instance.)
It's completely perverted for undergraduates to be shouldering the costs for the university being a world-class research institution since it benefits them very little. Even lending undergraduates the money at 0% interest is still having them pay for something they shouldn't be paying for. If the public wants the university to do public research, the public should pay the necessary taxes to fully fund the research and world-class research facilities. Don't stick the undergraduates with the bill for what you or society wants! Tuition-wise, the undergraduates should only be paying lecturer fees and for the educational facilities they actually use, along with a modest amount for university support staff and university infrastructure. Of course, it's not just research that's responsible for soaring college costs. From the report I linked to (pp. 31-32):
Some will note that increasing revenues for colleges is not necessarily bad. For some colleges, par-
ticularly two-year schools, I would tend to agree. But for the most part, I think diminishing returns
set in long ago, and that additional revenue is unlikely to be spent in ways that improve educational
outcomes, though perhaps I am giving too much credence to the following examples of how schools
have recently decided to spend money:
• The University of Illinois spent $6 million on the Irwin Academic Services Center which “helps
only about 550 of the school's 37,000 students” because it is restricted to athletes. But, “at
least four other schools have multimillion-dollar tutoring centers just for their athletes” in-
cluding the $12 million facility at the University of Michigan.54
• Princeton built a $136 million, 500-bed dorm ($272,000 per bed, much more than the median
home costs).55 MIT’s Simmons Hall cost $194,000 per bed.56
• “Framingham State College will spend more than $191,000 building a two-car garage and
stone patio for its state-owned president's house …even as the college's budget faces a poten-
tial $2 million cut”57
• The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey “spent more than $80,000 in 2005
to shuttle the head of a volunteer advisory board from her home in Pennsylvania’s Po-
conos to the school’s Newark campus.”58
• “Students now get massages, pedicures and manicures at the University of Wisconsin in Osh-
kosh” and students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania can play “one of 52 golf courses
from around the world on the room-sized golf simulators”59
• Ohio State University spent $140 million60 “to build what its peers enviously refer to as the
Taj Mahal, a 657,000-square-foot complex featuring kayaks and canoes, indoor batting cages
and ropes courses, massages and a climbing wall big enough for 50 students to scale simulta-
• The University of California gave 16 employees severance checks, and then rehired them. In
the most egregious example, one person “left her old job on April 30 and began her new one
on May 1.” She was given the same salary, but managed to collect a $100,202 severance pay-
ment anyway. And prior to this she was given “a $44,000 relocation allowance and a low-
interest $832,500 home loan, for which she was not otherwise entitled.”62
• In 2006-2007, 293 employees at private schools made more than $500,000. “[T]he highest-
paid college employee in the country was Pete Carroll, head football coach at the University of
Southern California, with $4.4-million in total compensation (pay plus benefits).”63
Perhaps I have not fully developed the requisite comfort level with cognitive dissonance to constantly
hear schools complaining about not having enough money and then witness them spending the
money they do have like this. The problems of higher education that lead to the arms race will ulti-
mately need to be addressed (by developing measures of outputs rather than inputs), but in the
meantime, the key issue with respect to financial aid is how to avoid exacerbating these problems.
I don't think taxpayers should be paying for any of that nonsense.
The core argument between liberals and conservatives is right there... should there or shouldn't there be student loans?
I think you meant government-sponsored student loans since most conservatives would be entirely fine with entirely private loans.
But in that there are already student loans, the question is - should we keep pretending that this isn't a government service, or should we acknowledge that and make the program work as efficiently as it can, for the sake of good governance?
Actually, it was horrible governance that allowed student loans to get out of control, just as horrible governance allowed mortgages to get out of control. In any case, I think the larger question is how to structure the loans so they contribute as little as possible to fueling the rise in college costs. The report I linked to tried, but I have my doubts about how well the idea presented would work. If colleges with expenses near the median increase their costs, then the proposal would obligingly offer students larger loans for the universities to scarf up. So I think the cost containment mechanism might get gradually undermined as universities with expenses near the median see their peers increasing their costs and feel increasingly comfortable about larger cost increases. They'd probably think twice about funding the extravagances quoted above though so the proposed idea is
better than what we have.
Edited by Palisade, 26 March 2010 - 02:01 AM.