College debt daze
Monday, May 14, 2012
It’s tough to make the math work on a social worker’s starting salary and $80,000 in student loans. But that’s what 23-year-old Jillian Potter, a recent graduate of Anderson University in Indiana, is now up against. Hers is one of the millions of stories that now add up to almost $1 trillion in student debt being carried by Americans, a weighty burden that was the focus of a 4,600-word front-page story
in yesterday’s New York Times
The debt crunch began to grow starting in the 1980s, when college costs began growing at a rate faster than family incomes. The world of college debt is now nearly a universal phenomenon of those seeking higher education: The Times
story says 94 percent of all students earning a bachelor’s degree today have borrowed to help finance their education, more than double the 45 percent who did so in 1993. For those with debt in 2011, the average amount owed was $23,300, and 10 percent owed more than $54,000.
The student debt crunch was explored in this story
earlier this year in CommonWealth
, which reported that Massachusetts college grads in the class of 2010 carried the 14th highest student debt load in the country ($25,541), while New Hampshire students had the dubious distinction of ranking first ($31,048). The Times
story describes a double-whammy that is hitting public higher education students: rising college costs at a time when state support for higher ed has been declining. From 2001 to 2011, state and local support for public higher education per student has declined 24 percent nationally, a period during which tuition and fees at public colleges and universities shot up 72 percent.
The rising cost of college -- and the increasing debt burden of US college students and graduates -- was documented in a 2010 MassINC research report, Planning for College: A Consumer Approach to the Higher Education Marketplace
. The report called for far greater transparency in the college financing process -- and for more attention to the quality measures that would help students and families make more informed choices in selecting a college.
Smarter, more informed decision-making is key to avoiding paths that lead to crippling levels of student debt. These days, however, almost everyone ends up doing some borrowing, and there’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t quality to the college debt discussion. As the Times
story notes, “economists and many parents say that the only thing worse than graduating with lots of debt is not going to college at all, since study after study has shown that graduates earn more over a lifetime.” --MICHAEL JONAS BEACON HILL
A bill under consideration in the Legislature would bring the salaries of county corrections officers to 90 percent
of their state counterparts.
, in an editorial
, says the bake sale flap
was about far more than cookies.MUNICIPAL MATTERS
A former firefighters union official leading a recall effort has accused Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan
of sweeping under the rug the investigation into the appointment and subsequent retirement
of a political ally as interim chief.
The License Commission in Lowell
is poised to roll back last call in bars from 2 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., the Lowell Sun reports
.Boston city councilors are taking a keen interest in
-- and squabbling over -- competing plans for redrawing boundaries for the nine district council seats.
The city of Weston, Florida
, contracts out most of its services and has only nine city employees, Governing reports
Most cities ended up with big surpluses in their snow and ice budgets
this year, but not Lynn, which exceeded its budget by $138,165, the Item reports
Town Manager Kevin Paicos
heads into his annual performance review with a whole pile of baggage
hanging overhead. NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
The National Review
shows the salaries of some union bosses put them in the 1 percent and says it’s hypocritical for the labor officials to attack Republicans
for championing the types of incomes they themselves earn.ELECTION 2012 Keller@Large brings in his body language consultant
for the latest attempts at divining whether President Obama, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown,
and Elizabeth Warren
are comfortable in their own skins.
Forget the mother nursing her three-year-old on the cover of Time.
The cover of the new issue of Newsweek
declares Obama “the first gay president.”
Meanwhile, former State House News reporter Jim O’Sullivan
, now at National Journal,
ties Obama’s historic announcement of support for same-sex marriage to the groundbreaking legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts and shares the story of the State House hallway fall heard ‘round the world
that may have helped set it all in motion. New York
Gov. Andrew Cuomo
doesn’t get the kind of credit Joe Biden
does for forcing Obama’s hand, but he should. Gov. Deval Patrick takes
to the Sunday talk circuit to discuss Obama’s shift. After endorsing same-sex marriage, the White House quietly made damage control calls
to influential pastors. GateHouse
newspapers take a look at where the money is coming
from and who’s raking it in in the state’s congressional races.Herald
columnist Kimberly Atkins highlights
Mitt Romney’s difficulties escaping from the hole he dug for himself in Michigan
lost more than a third of its manufacturing jobs
in the past decade, according to a recent Brookings Institution report.On Point’s
, Tom Ashbrook hosts a discussion
about income inequality with Edward Conrad
, a former Bain Capital executive, and Timothy Noah
, author of The Great Divergence.
The American Spectator
says if Hollywood
boycotts filming in North Carolina because of the voters’ ban on gay marriage last week, it would save taxpayers there millions in tax credits
and suggests the boycott should extend to all states that have banned gay marriage and save taxpayers $1.5 billion.Herman Cain talks up
the gold standard and trades in vampire metaphors. In a Wall Street Journal
op-ed column. EDUCATIONRoxbury Community College
’s inexplicable refusal to welcome a job-training program offered by a high-powered business organization renews long-standing questions
about the college’s weak focus on student outcomes and career preparedness, CommonWealth
’s Michael Jonas
writes. Is it time for a state takeover of the low-performing community college? Globe
columnist Adrian Walker on Saturday lauded Roxbury City Councilor Tito Jackson
as the lone profile-in-courage among local black politicians who was willing to call for the ouster of RCC President Terrence Gomes
More college presidents are coming to their posts from outside academia
, as business prowess and fundraising skills are increasingly valued by higher ed institutions.HEALTH CARE
More and more Lynn grandparents are raising their grandchildren,
the Lynn Item reports
. It may be their own fault, though, as the New York Times
reports some parents eager to take on the role are paying to freeze their daughters’ fertilized eggs
so they can have children when they’re ready later on.
Some doctors say Blue Cross Blue Shield
’s new program to crack down on prescription drug abuse is going to create more red tape
for physicians and patients who already follow the rules.
Former Gov. Michael Dukakis urges Beacon Hill
to do for health insurance what Bill Weld
did for workers compensation: tightly regulate rates.
Easton officials are meeting some resistance in trying to extend the town’s ban on smoking in public places
to other outdoor areas such as ballfields and wooded hiking trails.ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
NASA physicist and climatologist James Hansen
says heat waves were caused by human-induced climate change, Time reports
The Heritage Foundation reports
that the US Fish and Wildlife Service
is preparing to extend permits that allow the killing of bald eagles to accommodate wind energy projects.A123 Systems
, the Waltham-based maker of electric car batteries, reports a first quarter loss of $125 million and a revenue decline, the Wall Street Journal reports
The state Appeals Court is calling on judges to make clear
to jurors that the imperative to not discuss an ongoing case with anyone includes not tweeting about it or posting comments on Facebook.
The state has cut more than $1 million
from funding for HIV testing
and education in county jails.MEDIA
The author of the new Ben Bradlee book
defends himself against the critics, particularly his former boss, Bob Woodward
, The Daily Beast reports