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Is it moral for college to saddle kids with so much debt?

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I really want to know what top notch school that gal got into if they didn't offer her a penny beyond Federal Pell/loans.  And I want to know how much dad makes as that will also come into play.

 

My guess is it's not really a top notch school - just her top choice - and no, not all personal top choices are good with finances.  One would think the guidance counselor at that school would have guided her to better options.

 

But if dad makes a bit and won't contribute anything, then that won't help with need based aid.  Did this student have stats/grades to get into decent merit aid schools?  Again, a guidance good counselor could have helped with that.

 

We have far too many details missing.

 

I am annoyed that our state (since I'm in PA too) doesn't offer better aid for our state schools, so I'll agree with him on that.  However, if this student "fails" the need-based aid test (due to dad) that would also apply to state schools.  We do have less expensive state schools than Penn St (which is a combo of state and private - state related).  She could go to West Chester or any of the other 13 true state schools for less cost.  That wasn't mentioned.

 

It is true though that for many top stat students who do qualify for need based aid, private schools are less expensive.

 

Regarding loans... there's no way the student can borrow that much without a co-signer and if mom makes below the poverty level, I question whether she'd be approved to co-sign...

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I know a grand total of one family who can afford the 'expected family contribution' out of their income.

Literally everyone else is stunned by the expectation of it.

And college charges have gone up far faster than inflation since I was a student, which calls the system into serious question.

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I know a grand total of one family who can afford the 'expected family contribution' out of their income.

Literally everyone else is stunned by the expectation of it.

And college charges have gone up far faster than inflation since I was a student, which calls the system into serious question.

 

But I don't think the powers that be assume parents are going to pay for their kid's college out of their current income.  That's why we're urged repeatedly to save for college and to start doing it early.  Even when I was college aged (way, way back in the early 1980's) I don't remember any parents who expected to pay for their kid's college w/o relying on savings.

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When our boys were preschoolers, we were hearing financial planner types predict $100k for a state school by the time they were 18. Actual cost is slighly less if they dont need remedial coursework, and on the mark if the visit home more than Thanksgiving and Spring Break.

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But I don't think the powers that be assume parents are going to pay for their kid's college out of their current income.  That's why we're urged repeatedly to save for college and to start doing it early.  Even when I was college aged (way, way back in the early 1980's) I don't remember any parents who expected to pay for their kid's college w/o relying on savings.

 

And, with the recent recession many have had to use up any savings to get by. 

 

We all know to save, but the quantity needed isn't always possible. Life happens.

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Yes, the colleges are charging way too much.  But here is my take on the entire thing.  

 

Public universities used to be close to free, even in the late 80s when I was going to the University of California and the cost was going up quite a bit, the highest I paid was $500 per quarter.  If public universities were close to free, private universities would have pressure on them to lower their tuition costs.  

 

The other issue is that a while back the federal government came up with a "solution" to the cost of college, which was federally funded student loans (instead of grants).

 

Meanwhile, the message everyone is getting is that one must have a college degree to be successful.

 

So, on the one hand, by not funding it, our society is saying that it doesn't value higher education.  On the other hand, our society says that everyone must go to college.

 

And, as so many things are in our society, it's just another version of the rich get richer.

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...

 

We have far too many details missing.

 

... She could go to West Chester or any of the other 13 true state schools for less cost.  That wasn't mentioned.

 

 

 

Yep.  Temple University is between 14K and 19K, depending on major, without housing/food.  That's $56K - $76K for all four years, compared to living away from home and going to a private school for $54K/year ($216K for four years).  Temple is a half-hour bus ride, or an hour's walk, from the high school she's attending now.  Many, many good students are going to state schools now.

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EKS hits the nail on the head.

 

We need our public universities funded to an extent where people can actually afford to go without student loans.

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Yep.  Temple University is between 14K and 19K, depending on major, without housing/food.  That's $56K - $76K for all four years, compared to living away from home and going to a private school for $54K/year ($216K for four years).  Temple is a half-hour bus ride, or an hour's walk, from the high school she's attending now.  Many, many good students are going to state schools now.

 

And our true state schools cost $6820/year for tuition (add up to another 3K for fees) with an average total cost for a PA state resident living on campus (so includes room and board) being $18,868.  There are 14 located around the state to choose from.

 

http://www.passhe.edu/answers/Pages/cost-breakout.aspx

 

That's not cheap, but it's not as dire as the article implied.  Also, if the student is low income, she'll qualify for a Pheaa grant too.  It won't pay it all, but it will certainly help.

 

Nonetheless, I wish our state did more to help students afford the cost of state schools.  Some states are really good about this.  Ours is not.

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Should they saddle their parents with so much debt when their parent is still paying back their own debt?  That's another question.

 

I'm very nervous about this all.  No clue how we will afford it and I don't want to be expected to borrow 20K a year.  That's just too much!

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Should they saddle their parents with so much debt when their parent is still paying back their own debt?  That's another question.

 

I'm very nervous about this all.  No clue how we will afford it and I don't want to be expected to borrow 20K a year.  That's just too much!

I know! We have a plan, but who knows how it will all turn out. 

 

I understand that while there are affordable colleges and no one should expect to be able to go to their dream college, choices are narrowed way too much for people in the middle. 

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I know a grand total of one family who can afford the 'expected family contribution' out of their income.

 

 

We are affording our EFC out of our income.  It helps considerably that we live in a relatively low COL area.  The rest is because we slash and trim many other parts of our budget including contributing to retirement during these years (we're not contributing).  And then our EFC is between 1/3 and 1/2 of our income.

 

It is a stretch, but we feel it's worth it for our guys.  We won't get a break for quite a few more years since middle son is planning on med school (which is more than our EFC).

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ps  We had savings... that got eaten up during the economic downturn.  THAT kinda made me sick and still does when I think about it, but life moves on.

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The only savings we have is for retirement.  And it's modest.  Our house is dirt cheap so there will be no equity to borrow from.  I'd say we are on the low end of middle, but I'm guessing.  And even though there is the EFC verses the need portion, doesn't mean a school will meet the "need" portion right? 

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Reading this thread gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. We don't have savings for college for our kids.

 

I was listening to an NPR story about the decline of Liberal Arts majors in college. They were (and rightfully so) mourning the loss of so many of these majors. They were talking about how sad it is that the Humanities are disparaged. Which it is sad.

 

However, I think a huge piece of the puzzle is that college is insanely expensive. People who are going to invest tens of thousands in college want to study for a marketable career. A career where they can pay off their student loans in a reasonable amount of time. It makes no sense to borrow 75,000 for a career where you will make 40,000.

 

 

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I'm not sure that "moral" is the right word. Combined with the fact, as mentioned up thread, that it is not so much that colleges are "doing this" as being forced to close the ever widening gap between costs and dwindling government funding.

 

As for this specific case, Creekland is right, too many details missing.

 

Granted, I expect my views will change some as my dc get closer to college, though.

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What EKS said is exactly what I believe to be true.  And now that college educations are so heavily subsidized by the federal government, the universities have begun to institute exorbitant and sometimes unnecessary programs/positions that do not *actually* contribute at all to real education.  I'm not even going to get into details about that!!!  I used to work at a university and have many relatives in higher education, and this realization took me years to comprehend.

 

And I deeply value college and graduate school.  I say this as someone from a degree from a respected state school, a master's degree from a private school and a law degree from another private school, and no debt (so I don't have bitterness or an axe to grind on a personal level at all).  

 

But, that's off-course from the original post.  I just think that as consumers, at some point, we have to take a step back and assess what is truly important, what constitutes an excellent education, and so on.  

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I am thankful though that we live in TN. Currently, with the HOPE scholarship and the free community college that's going on here, we may be ok for at least a part of college expense.

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The only savings we have is for retirement.  And it's modest.  Our house is dirt cheap so there will be no equity to borrow from.  I'd say we are on the low end of middle, but I'm guessing.  And even though there is the EFC verses the need portion, doesn't mean a school will meet the "need" portion right? 

 

A few schools truly meet need (though usually the federal loans are part of this as they want students to have skin in the game).

 

Many do not.

 

It tends to be higher level/more selective schools that meet need - hence - why many try to aim for them.

 

Some states (NC and VA come to mind) are also good with meeting need.  Other states (ahem, PA) are not.

 

High stat kids who are also high need have the most options to try for as they can go for merit or need based aid.

 

Kids where families feel they can not meet their EFC need to try for merit aid - BUT some top level schools use their own calculations and can offer more aid than the Feds do.  This is what this thread was originally about.  Stanford uses their own calculations.  Stanford also tends to be one of the most difficult schools to get accepted to...

 

ETA - oops - that was the Stanford thread.  My brain mixed the two up.  Sorry!

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Yes, the colleges are charging way too much.  But here is my take on the entire thing.  

 

Public universities used to be close to free, even in the late 80s when I was going to the University of California and the cost was going up quite a bit, the highest I paid was $500 per quarter.  If public universities were close to free, private universities would have pressure on them to lower their tuition costs

 

Public education funding is of low priority for the American taxpayer. The funding to public universities keeps getting cut, so that public colleges have no other choice than increasing tuition.

 

State funding for the college where I teach dropped by 44% in the decade between 2001 and 2011, while we increased enrollment by 54%.

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University of Michigan gets approximately 9% of its budget from the state, MSU 11%, and MTU slightly more. These are our tier 1 schools. Tier 2 regional state schools are getting a little more, but it's not huge.

 

Frankly, I am not certain it is appropriate to call them "state schools" anymore. On top of that, the home of the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history with it's second largest city also run by an emergency financial manager, the state has cut need based aid to the bone, and the $3500.00 scholarship that students used to get if they passed the high school exit exams was also cut. One has to be REALLY low income to get state based need aid, and the average grant is down to about $1000.00. So yes, that's $1000.00 that the student doesn't have to borrow, but on the other hand, not much help with a $27,000.00 bill.

 

Even our cc's are feeling the pinch. The good cc/vocational school within commuting distance of us is $11,000 a year for 15 credits hours per semester. That does include fees, parking passes, and books. But still! With room and board, MTU is only $26,000.00 and NMU still comes in just under $20,000.00 a year. To spend $3600.00 on gas to commute on top of 1.5 hours each way, it doesn't necessarily add up to cc being a good choice and especially since there are no reciprocal transfer agreements with the better uni's and LAC's so one could end up paying all of that and then turn around and pay to take the courses all over again. Many times it is money down a hole!

 

Employers are often requiring at least AA's if not BS/BA's in order to demonstrate ability for even menial work because a high school diploma doesn't always means anything around here. But, the state does not value higher education enough to invest in it...oh there was money for Comerica Park in Detroit and "The Palace" in Pontiac, and any number of other pork barrel spending projects. But, not to help students get the education they will need to be gainfully employed.

 

It's actually a very short-sighted, stupid financial plan. High school graduates in this state do not make enough money to support themselves and end up spending years on assistance. It would be better to help them get their degrees or professional licenses so they can be financially independent of the state and pay taxes into the system. However, Michigan politicians seem to be quite ignorant on the subject. It also puts more money into the game if they can aspire to own homes. With home ownership at an all time low, and repossessions so high, one would think it would occur to them to think "long term" about education and training for the citizenry.

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And our true state schools cost $6820/year for tuition (add up to another 3K for fees) with an average total cost for a PA state resident living on campus (so includes room and board) being $18,868.  There are 14 located around the state to choose from.

 

Well aren't you lucky.  Our state schools cost about $14K in tuition and fees, and if you add room and board, it's over $25K.  That is our most affordable option.

 

I don't know where our state gets off charging about twice what all other state schools do...  :glare:

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I know this thread is about undergrad, but wait until you see some of the price tags after that.  My son probably paid over $100,000 for law school.  My other son is expecting to pay over $240,000 for med school.  My daughter was smart and was a TA during grad school and they paid her.

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I know this thread is about undergrad, but wait until you see some of the price tags after that.  My son probably paid over $100,000 for law school.  My other son is expecting to pay over $240,000 for med school.  My daughter was smart and was a TA during grad school and they paid her.

 

I've already been scouting out med school costs knowing that's in my guy's future...

 

Sometimes the Caribbean looks awfully tempting.

 

I have noted that places like Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt are less expensive than Pitt - even as a state resident...  :glare:  Once again, many OTHER states are kinder to their state residents (MA, NC, TX, but not VA this time).

 

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/research-rankings

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I know this thread is about undergrad, but wait until you see some of the price tags after that.  My son probably paid over $100,000 for law school. 

 

Seeing the hourly rate our immigration lawyer billed us, paying this back would have taken him a mere 400 hours of work. Ten fourty hour weeks - not bad. The paralegal would have taken twice as long.

Law school is definitely a good ROI.

 

 

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Seeing the hourly rate our immigration lawyer billed us, paying this back would have taken him a mere 400 hours of work. Ten fourty hour weeks - not bad. The paralegal would have taken twice as long.

Law school is definitely a good ROI.

 

I disagree.  Law school these days is a bad ROI.  I have forbidden my children to go into law.  The market is so impacted in most areas that finding a job that pays well is difficult for new graduates, let alone female graduates.  The hourly rates charged by your lawyer may have been exhorbitant, I don't know.  However, they likely don't represent the rate for new grads.  And built into a lawyer's rates are usually things like overhead expenses.  Meanwhile the loans accrue fairly high interest rates (at least mine do), compared to other loans, and most loan interest is not deductible unless you work for an extremely low paying public law job.  $100,000 in loans actually turns out to be much more, including interest, and takes much longer to pay off than ten 40 hour weeks.  Try 30 or 40 years, if that person also gets a modest home loan, buys a car, and has living expenses.

 

I'm not saying there aren't those out there that make a boatload of money.  But, those people graduated before 1987 or so.  With an insignificant amount of debt.

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I disagree.  Law school these days is a bad ROI.  I have forbidden my children to go into law.  The market is so impacted in most areas that finding a job that pays well is difficult for new graduates, let alone female graduates.  The hourly rates charged by your lawyer may have been exhorbitant, I don't know.  However, they likely don't represent the rate for new grads.  And built into a lawyer's rates are usually things like overhead expenses.  Meanwhile the loans accrue fairly high interest rates (at least mine do), compared to other loans, and most loan interest is not deductible unless you work for an extremely low paying public law job.  $100,000 in loans actually turns out to be much more, including interest, and takes much longer to pay off than ten 40 hour weeks.  Try 30 or 40 years, if that person also gets a modest home loan, buys a car, and has living expenses.

 

I'm not saying there aren't those out there that make a boatload of money.  But, those people graduated before 1987 or so.  With an insignificant amount of debt.

 

Yes THIS!  I know of more than a few people in my law school class who are saddled with $100K+ debt.  This is an enormous albatross, b/c a legal graduate is not automatically making six figures upon graduation (maybe in a large city, at a large firm, pulling long workweeks).  It limits their life choices for years.  Private practice can be extraordinarily stressful, too--and when you've committed to a huge debt and a stressful job, you can't change it if you are miserable. I know even more people from my law school class who would love to work in the public sector or switch to a non-legal job (that would still use their degree)(or even stay home w/ their kids!) but who cannot do it b/c they set themselves up from the beginning to expect a huge paycheck to pay back the loans.  And now they are stuck there. 

 

My law firm charged me out as a first-year associate at between $110-$200 per hour (depending on the client agreement).  Given that I worked 60 hours a week, my take-home 'hourly pay' was about $20!!  (And this was at the highest-paying firm--a large, private practice--in my medium-sized, low-cost-of-living city.)(You must understand, they weren't paying me per hour--I was salaried, of course.) There's a jump when someone makes partner (after 6ish years, at my old firm), but at most law firms it is not just a champagne toast at that point.  These days many partners have to BUY IN to the firm--which means, yes, that they are investing money, that is, going into debt. Which ties them up further and binds them to the law firm life. If they love it, that's great.  

 

I think if you can graduate with $100K in debt, get a big job working at a big firm, reconcile yourself with the fact that you'll be devoting your entire life (I took ONE day off a month when I was working...and this was not in a large city!) to the firm for a few years, and live as frugally as possible (rice, beans, drive a jalopy) so you can pay your debt--it may be worthwhile financially.  but that's a big IF on so many points. When I was a third year student I gave a talk to pre-law students at a local university.  The biggest thing I told them was to save, save, save up and when in law school, live like paupers.  I saw so many law students living like lawyers before they had ever gotten the degree.  But that's a whole 'nother can of worms. 

 

ETA: An attorney in his/her own firm may charge a stout fee, but the overhead is often much higher than one might think, factoring in office space, equipment, appropriate programs, legal research fees, paying paralegals/secretaries/receptionist and even runners if they are needed, continuing legal education requirements, et cetera.....

 

Well--that's a tome. But it's also my 'warning' about large-debt from careers that *seem* like they pay a lot.  For some, it's a good investment.  For many, it's a ball-and-chain.  It's not a slam-dunk, that's all I'm saying! 

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Yes, it's all really something. We got together with one of our public school friends this week. Their senior and mine did Mock Trial together when they were homeschooling. Both are very qualified, hard-working kids.  

 

He's going to a school with a $50,000+ price tag in history with the plan of going to law school afterwards.  They don't qualify for need-based, and got some scholarships but out-of-pocket is still going to require significant loans.

 

This kid has also struggled some with processing issues and has an accommodation letter that gives him more time on tests.  I don't know if having that sort of disability is going to work with a history undergraduate and getting a law degree.  If he was my kid I would have pressed harder to go cheaper for the undergraduate.  The debt could really pile up there.

 

 

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Seeing the hourly rate our immigration lawyer billed us, paying this back would have taken him a mere 400 hours of work. Ten fourty hour weeks - not bad. The paralegal would have taken twice as long.

Law school is definitely a good ROI.

 

That's not what they're getting, trust me.  Our lawyer charges a pretty penny too, but she's still living with her parents because she wants to get her loans paid off.  She's in her 30's and has said several times that she doesn't make near what you'd think.

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A few schools truly meet need (though usually the federal loans are part of this as they want students to have skin in the game).

 

Many do not.

 

It tends to be higher level/more selective schools that meet need - hence - why many try to aim for them.

 

Some states (NC and VA come to mind) are also good with meeting need.  Other states (ahem, PA) are not.

 

High stat kids who are also high need have the most options to try for as they can go for merit or need based aid.

 

Kids where families feel they can not meet their EFC need to try for merit aid - BUT some top level schools use their own calculations and can offer more aid than the Feds do.  This is what this thread was originally about.  Stanford uses their own calculations.  Stanford also tends to be one of the most difficult schools to get accepted to...

 

ETA - oops - that was the Stanford thread.  My brain mixed the two up.  Sorry!

 

I doubt our EFC will be super high, but I still worry about the fact the burden of borrowing money is mostly on me.  I was considered an independent student so I was allowed to borrow at those amounts.  My parents didn't have to borrow a dime.  And that seems fair to me.  It's my education.  But that also means I'm still paying back my school loans and will still be paying when my first born goes to school.  So the thought of piling on more to that is just making me queasy.  And what am I supposed to tell him?  Sorry, figure it out yourself?  It just sucks.

 

Although looking at the prices of the state schools, those seem far more doable.  They also have a lot of good options around here with starting out at the CC and transferring to various really good schools.  That would save a lot of money and still give my son a chance to go to a school he'd rather go to.

 

Of course I told him to apply to wherever he wants and strive for that.  It's not a bad goal.  I just told him that money will be a factor and if the dream schools don't give him enough money that's not going to work. 

 

Then there is also the thought that, I have no clue how he will do on tests.  I myself did lousy, but was a good student.  Then again, I had nothing like test prep and my education was weak.  I think he is getting a better education and he will have all the test prep he could want and then some because I know it can help.  My parents weren't involved in my education so I had no idea what steps I should have taken to get better results.  Now that I know I wish I could go back in time!  I can't, but at least I can help my kids. 

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Reading this thread gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. We don't have savings for college for our kids.

 

I was listening to an NPR story about the decline of Liberal Arts majors in college. They were (and rightfully so) mourning the loss of so many of these majors. They were talking about how sad it is that the Humanities are disparaged. Which it is sad.

 

However, I think a huge piece of the puzzle is that college is insanely expensive. People who are going to invest tens of thousands in college want to study for a marketable career. A career where they can pay off their student loans in a reasonable amount of time. It makes no sense to borrow 75,000 for a career where you will make 40,000.

 

 

 

Exactly. I fear having a huge student loan payment and unemployed kid.

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That's not what they're getting, trust me.  Our lawyer charges a pretty penny too, but she's still living with her parents because she wants to get her loans paid off.  She's in her 30's and has said several times that she doesn't make near what you'd think.

 

Yeah it's pretty surprising in terms of what most lawyers actually make.  I had a lawyer friend some years ago.  She too lived with her mother.  She earned a lot per hour, but she didn't have business 40 hours a week.  More like 5-10 hours.  Then she finally got a 9-5 law job and while she made decent money, it wasn't a ton and it wasn't a ton that made paying the loans back less painful. 

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Yeah it's pretty surprising in terms of what most lawyers actually make.  I had a lawyer friend some years ago.  She too lived with her mother.  She earned a lot per hour, but she didn't have business 40 hours a week.  More like 5-10 hours.  Then she finally got a 9-5 law job and while she made decent money, it wasn't a ton and it wasn't a ton that made paying the loans back less painful. 

In our area, this is what lawyers struggle with because out here in the sticks, they often do not get 40 hours of work per week. Thus the high rate. If they didn't charge that, they wouldn't be able to be open. To be honest, several of the local paralegals make more than their bosses because they are salaried for 40 per week and there aren't that many paralegals to go around.

 

I think one has to make it into one of the big name law schools like Columbia, Harvard, etc. and then get on at an established firm with a well to do/wealthy client list in order to make good money straight out of law school.

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Although looking at the prices of the state schools, those seem far more doable.  They also have a lot of good options around here with starting out at the CC and transferring to various really good schools.  That would save a lot of money and still give my son a chance to go to a school he'd rather go to.

 

There are a LOT of good state schools, truly. I realize that some folks truly can afford more than others, but for those of us who can't and don't want our students to have large loans, there's nothing wrong with picking carefully and getting in-state tuition.

 

I went to a state school with a national reputation, and had no problem getting on with a well-ranked employer and into graduate school. Ten years later I was making the same if not more than colleagues from MIT, Cal Tech, and the Ivies. A lot of it is of course grades and motivation, but people do fine with degrees from selected state schools. You do need to pick carefully though.

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Exactly. I fear having a huge student loan payment and unemployed kid.

 

I've related this before, but we know several under-employed STEM graduates who are living at home.  They are working somewhat in their field, but are not earning near what they expected.  And they have loans that they're trying to pay off.

 

So even with a STEM degree, you can get into a bind.

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One factor in the rising cost of college has to be that colleges do so much more for students than they used to.  Amenities that I have noted on college visits that are now fairly standard but were unheard-of "back in the day":  shuttles from one side of campus to the other, free tutoring (lots of free tutoring), multiple dining options, near-luxurious on-campus accommodations, high-tech super libraries, puppies (seriously), paint-your-own pottery studios, rec centers that are better than anything available in the private sector, medical services that include specialists instead of just a PA handing out antibiotics, and some incredibly beautiful buildings.  Those amenities are expensive.

 

If you heard the NPR story about free college in Germany, the free college there sounded a lot like my Big State U of the 80s:  a comparatively no-frills operation.  I don't think that would fly here any more, and plenty of students are paying the price for that, but it is troubling to me that many students are actually not paying the price due to the way that need-based aid is handed out.  From an economics standpoint, you are distorting the market (in many ways, but this is just one example) any time that the consumer of a good does not pay the full price of that good.  But that's a book's worth of discussion!

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The students at a state college near me just had a protest about rising tuition....and they would agree about some of the services being nonessential I dont view the fitness center as nonessential as many workout to releive stress and there are no commercial gyms they could use , but I wonder that the additional staff members for mental health and veterans affairs are cost effective. I do agree about the busses....I dont see an issue with walking less than a mile to a grocery store or movie theater, but I think with so many used to subsidized subway that they consider that distance too far to bike or walk.

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One factor in the rising cost of college has to be that colleges do so much more for students than they used to.  Amenities that I have noted on college visits that are now fairly standard but were unheard-of "back in the day":  shuttles from one side of campus to the other, free tutoring (lots of free tutoring), multiple dining options, near-luxurious on-campus accommodations, high-tech super libraries, puppies (seriously), paint-your-own pottery studios, rec centers that are better than anything available in the private sector, medical services that include specialists instead of just a PA handing out antibiotics, and some incredibly beautiful buildings.  Those amenities are expensive.

 

If you heard the NPR story about free college in Germany, the free college there sounded a lot like my Big State U of the 80s:  a comparatively no-frills operation.  I don't think that would fly here any more, and plenty of students are paying the price for that, but it is troubling to me that many students are actually not paying the price due to the way that need-based aid is handed out.  From an economics standpoint, you are distorting the market (in many ways, but this is just one example) any time that the consumer of a good does not pay the full price of that good.  But that's a book's worth of discussion!

I agree with so much of this, though I am a fan of free tutoring. Dh and I both tutored in college, way back in the mists of time, and they charged the students a pretty penny for it while paying us pretty much NOTHING. But that made it cost prohibitive for some students to get help which unfortunately resulted in some students losing their scholarships because of sinking GPA. I am all for the tutoring as part of the service to help students be academically successful.

 

But all of the other stuff, and especially the "luxury" items such as palatial dorms and lounges, coffee houses, free computers, a bizarre amount of dining options, expensive sound systems in the dorm lounges along with huge flat screen TV's, you name it...that is totally unnecessary.

 

I am truly sick to death of the constant expansion of luxurious stadiums, fitness centers, performance halls, recreation centers, you name it while tuition outpaces inflation and wages by staggering percentages! Personally, I'd like to box MSU and U of MI about the ears for some of their wicked financial decisions. It makes college more and more out of reach for the middle class or at least if the family is not willing to go into crazy debt. Now that said, I don't have a problem with the city bus system at both of the flagships because the campuses are now so big that if a student has classes very close together in buildings that are literally miles apart, they can't walk or bike it fast enough to be on time. In that respect, for huge campuses, I have no issue with providing some public transportation. But for small campuses since we all know it's healthier to encourage walking and biking, shuttles and busses are just a ludicrous expense except for disabled students, and for a small campus a handicap accessible van is all that is likely needed.

 

I really think there will be a higher education bubble burst because the current model is financially unsustainable.

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I really think there will be a higher education bubble burst because the current model is financially unsustainable.

I think we will continue to see the wealthy from other countries attend, instead of the US middle class. Not being able to access college prep in public high school is hurting them greatly. But who knows, maybe a church will open more private college prep high schools for them. My district has already sold one of their elementaries to a religious group....they are moving in to the older housing as families are being taxed out.

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One factor in the rising cost of college has to be that colleges do so much more for students than they used to.  Amenities that I have noted on college visits that are now fairly standard but were unheard-of "back in the day":  shuttles from one side of campus to the other, free tutoring (lots of free tutoring), multiple dining options, near-luxurious on-campus accommodations, high-tech super libraries, puppies (seriously), paint-your-own pottery studios, rec centers that are better than anything available in the private sector, medical services that include specialists instead of just a PA handing out antibiotics, and some incredibly beautiful buildings.  Those amenities are expensive.

 

I agree on a few of those, but free tutoring is extremely beneficial to students and saves cost. It does not just improve retention and thus benefit the school. Failing, and having to repeat, a four hour course even at our public U costs the student (or his parents) over $1000. Free tutoring is a VERY cost effective measure to improve the education. I would not call this a fancy amenity.

 

On the topic of shuttles, there are several issues: 1. Safety. I am very grateful that my DD has the opportunity to take a shuttle instead of walking at night in an unsafe neighborhood. 2. Environment. On our campus, most students have access to a car. The shuttle bus cuts down on short distance driving and reduces parking chaos. 3. On a large campus, time between classes may be insufficient to walk from one end of campus to the next. Students would be late for class, or not schedule back-to back courses. 

 

The shuttle service may not be funded by the school at all. Our school started an environmentally friendly shuttle service last year and got a grant from the Federal Transit Agency for the electric-powered bus that is used. The primary goal of the service is to cut down emissions from cars - not to make student life fancy.

 

ETA: I would expect a good college to have a good library. I do not see a super library as a fancy amenity, but as a tool that directly improves education, teaching, and research. Students and faculty need access to current scientific publications and literature.

 

If you heard the NPR story about free college in Germany, the free college there sounded a lot like my Big State U of the 80s:  a comparatively no-frills operation. 

 

One big difference between college in Germany and the US is the way students are viewed. In the US, colleges are expected (by the parents!) to take over part of the parenting role. Students are housed, fed, supervised, counseled, subject to lots of rules. In Germany, university students are considered independent adults who are supposed to be capable of organizing their own life. There may be dorms or cafeterias, but those serve only a fraction of the students, and the university is not engaged in substitute parenting.

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One factor in the rising cost of college has to be that colleges do so much more for students than they used to.  Amenities that I have noted on college visits that are now fairly standard but were unheard-of "back in the day":  shuttles from one side of campus to the other, free tutoring (lots of free tutoring), multiple dining options, near-luxurious on-campus accommodations, high-tech super libraries, puppies (seriously), paint-your-own pottery studios, rec centers that are better than anything available in the private sector, medical services that include specialists instead of just a PA handing out antibiotics, and some incredibly beautiful buildings.  Those amenities are expensive.

 

If you heard the NPR story about free college in Germany, the free college there sounded a lot like my Big State U of the 80s:  a comparatively no-frills operation.  I don't think that would fly here any more, and plenty of students are paying the price for that, but it is troubling to me that many students are actually not paying the price due to the way that need-based aid is handed out.  From an economics standpoint, you are distorting the market (in many ways, but this is just one example) any time that the consumer of a good does not pay the full price of that good.  But that's a book's worth of discussion!

 

I was in college 35 years ago, and my university offered those, for the most part. My dorm room was at least 3 times larger than my son's, and it had a private bathroom.

 

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This kid has also struggled some with processing issues and has an accommodation letter that gives him more time on tests.  I don't know if having that sort of disability is going to work with a history undergraduate and getting a law degree.  If he was my kid I would have pressed harder to go cheaper for the undergraduate.  The debt could really pile up there.

 

Why wouldn't it? The accommodation levels the playing field. If he's as smart as any other student pursuing this career path and applies himself, he should do fine.  Yes, law schools offer accommodations, too and you can get them on the LSAT and the Bar exam. Good thing he's not your kid, IMO. The disability is irrelevant to the cost of the undergraduate degree. 

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Seeing the hourly rate our immigration lawyer billed us, paying this back would have taken him a mere 400 hours of work. Ten fourty hour weeks - not bad. The paralegal would have taken twice as long.

Law school is definitely a good ROI.

Law school is currently a BAD investment because there are only 1 job for every 2 lawyers.  Most new lawyers are underemployed, unemployed or doing something in a related field.

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Law school is currently a BAD investment because there are only 1 job for every 2 lawyers. Most new lawyers are underemployed, unemployed or doing something in a related field.

I have heard this before, yet I also hear that small towns are hurting for lawyers and public defenders have a high rate of turnover. My guess is either that the lawyers specialized in the wrong field or aren't willing to work at the available jobs, not that there aren't any jobs.

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Most lawyers can't afford to practice in small towns or as public defenders. Public defenders are overworked and underpaid and small town attorneys cannot charge enough to repay their loans (there aren't enough clients). Most of my attorney friends (even dual attorney couples) have INDIVIDUAL six figure loan debts (150K on up) from a combo of undergrad and legal studies. They put off kids and buy smaller homes to pay their debt.  20 years post-undergrad they are still paying.

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Why wouldn't it? The accommodation levels the playing field. If he's as smart as any other student pursuing this career path and applies himself, he should do fine.  Yes, law schools offer accommodations, too and you can get them on the LSAT and the Bar exam. Good thing he's not your kid, IMO. The disability is irrelevant to the cost of the undergraduate degree. 

 

Law firms do not have to offer extra time to complete his work, so I wonder how this kid is going to fare when he finally gets to a point that he has to compete with a bunch of other gung-ho young associates.  "Not well" would be my guess, and I agree with the poster's comment that his parents might have been wise to steer him into a different field.

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Most lawyers can't afford to practice in small towns or as public defenders. Public defenders are overworked and underpaid and small town attorneys cannot charge enough to repay their loans (there aren't enough clients). Most of my attorney friends (even dual attorney couples) have INDIVIDUAL six figure loan debts (150K on up) from a combo of undergrad and legal studies. They put off kids and buy smaller homes to pay their debt.  20 years post-undergrad they are still paying.

 

I was responding to the comment that there are 2 lawyers for every job, not on the financial aspects of the available jobs. 

It is better to have a lower paying job than no job, IMO. 

 

Many people buy small homes and put off kids for a variety of reasons. Some do it so that they can pay off student loans, others do it so that they can save for their retirement. Some do it because they think to get a house larger than they need is not necessary. Some people get in over their heads financially. As I said, people make choices. 

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Law firms do not have to offer extra time to complete his work, so I wonder how this kid is going to fare when he finally gets to a point that he has to compete with a bunch of other gung-ho young associates.  "Not well" would be my guess, and I agree with the poster's comment that his parents might have been wise to steer him into a different field.

 

Does it matter how he does compared to others? Not everyone cares to be  the top person in their company. Some people prefer to enter into private practice as well. 

 

There are so many specialties available in the area of law that he could easily find a niche. There are some where it would be difficult for someone with processing issues, but there are also extremely predictable areas. Not every lawyer is a litigator. Who knows, maybe he will become a law professor or a history professor. 

 

I, for one, am glad his parents are willing to give him an opportunity to pursue his goal. 

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