Student Debt

Nationally, 7 in 10 graduating college seniors have student loan debt. This is up from only 5 in 10 indebted students in the mid 1990s. For the indebted, it averages close to 30,000 dollar per student. Student debt in aggregate, 1.2 trillion dollars, is second only to mortgage debt. $$$

Breaking out the indebtedness, 66 percent of students attending public colleges and universities, 75 percent attending private non-profit institutions, and an astonishing 88 percent of students attending for profit institutions owe. Almost 9 in 10 students at for profit institutions carry a debt averaging 40,000 dollars. This is serious debt requiring the direction of 10 percent of a salary over 10 to 15 years for a school teacher, as just one example.

The cost of a college education has been rising faster than inflation and there are a couple of reasons for this. First, for public institutions, state funding as a percentage of the total cost of the education has been declining. Since the 1970s the share of the cost of an education has gone from well over half to much less than half, leaving tuition to make up the difference.

An additional burden on the cost of an education -the number of non-academic administrative and professional employees at U.S. colleges and universities has more than doubled in the last 25 years.
There are now about two non-academic staff per faculty member. Some of this is driven by the cost of regulations, and dealing with less than optimally prepared students. Ironically at least part of it is competition between institutions for students.

Athletics is also a drain on academics at all but the most successful schools. A local example is the fact that there is a athletic fee imbedded in the cost per credit hour at Arkansas Tech University: 14 out of 209 dollars per student credit hour goes to support the athletic program. Other fees exist but are identified as a line item. Would students on tight budgets really be interested in paying that fee were it voluntary? College Football Stadiums - Google Maps

These kinds of spiraling costs occur across the country. It’s just the price we have to pay for an educated citizenry, so be it. But does it have to be this way? Should higher education be in the entertainment business? Only seven programs at public institutions break even or better. For the University of Arkansas and almost every other university, sports is a money-losing proposition.

Now more than ever we are competing in a global economy and the country with the most educated citizenry should have a competitive advantage. In a number of European countries higher education is free for the citizens, but also free of entertainment programs such as athletics thus lowering the net cost.

You want a free college degree, at least tuition wise? Get over to Norway were they provide free higher education, even to non-citizens, just don’t expect to be rooting for the home team.

8 thoughts on “Student Debt

  1. Doug Stowe

    Bob, I was amazed at your lack of concern for the Arkansas landscape in your adoption of Clean line as a cause to champion for the environment. Here in Eureka Springs, we are fighting against a similar plan that would push wind and coal electrons through the Ozarks. They claim that the Shipe Road to Kings River power line is for “growth and reliability” but, quadrupling the available power in the local area grid is not the purpose of it.

    The APSC rejected the earlier “clean line” proposal because it did nothing to serve Arkansas. You have done the Sierra Club and Arkansas a disservice by your advocacy of Clean line. This is not just a matter of suspected health effects, but one of certain loss of beauty and value of properties. The rapid rise of solar in places like Massachusetts where they have far less sun that we do, will likely change the dynamics of the energy equation, making wind farms in the great plains far less competitive when you begin to factor in the environmental losses that result from the ugliness of transmission lines. Even representatives of the Tennessee Vallley Authority informed the press that Clean Line is unwarranted.

    I hope you will sincerely reconsider your position. I plan to also write the Sierra Club in response to your editorial.

    Doug Stowe
    Board member, Save the Ozarks.

    1. bob Post author

      Doug, your response is in the wrong place, but I will respond anyway. The atmosphere reached 400 ppm CO2 this summer. What have you done personally? I have reduced my use of electrical energy to less than 450 kWhs per month, and installed a solar array that produces 600 kWhs per month, a net 150 kWhs more than I use. But that is not enough. Therefore I support midwest wind generated power to make up for what other don’t. How about? How much clean energy are you producing as apposed to how much coal fired power are you using?

      1. Doug Stowe

        I didn’t find an email address to correspond with you to inform you that I believe your support of clean line is inappropriate so I left a reply on your most recent blog post. Wind is being proven to be not quite what it was cracked up to be, and the solution you and clean line support is to industrialize the landscape all across Arkansas.

        You set up a straw man claiming that you’re the one that is doing something about the problem. I cheer your support of solar and distributed energy production. But I don’t believe a huge swath of Arkansas should be sacrificed to supply power to the TVA that it claims is not needed, and not wanted. The APSC was quite clear in its decision that the power line was not to serve Arkansans. I am quite clear that there are corporations wanting to make a profit transporting wind generated energy from the great plains. But don’t you also suspect that it will transport coal powered electrons out of state as was required by the Turk power plant settlement?

  2. bob Post author

    I am a citizen of planet earth, my concerns go way beyond Arkansas. As for the line not serving AR, what of it. Trucks and trains pass through our state and pound our highways all the time without serving AR. Should they have to go around the state?

    The use of cleaner wind power is needed if we are to save the rest of the 34,000,000 acres in the state from catastrophic climate change.

    Are there other ways of addressing climate change – sure, but I don’t see them happening now. Wind is the most cost effective clean power source and is part of our future.

    1. Doug Stowe

      I am also a citizen of planet earth, and I live in the Ozarks. The environmental imperative is to think globally and act locally, and if you choose not to protect the Ozarks, (your home and mine) then so be it. If you think that our home state and the ecological sanctity of our bioregion should be sacrificed for some greater good, then we simply disagree.

      Glen Hooks said that Sierra Club would possibly change its endorsement of Clean Line if its review of the EIS showed it to be a problem. No EIS has yet been put forth, but you all choose to support a pig in a poke.

      Instead of giving strong support of the Clean Line and publicly arguing for it, Sierra Club could have just as easily said, “We will wait until we have seen the EIS, before giving any sort of endorsement.” But instead you and they chose to undermine and demoralize any possible opposition.

      In the case of the Shipe Road to Kings River powerline, the Environmental Impact Statement would not have been thoroughly analyzed, nor would it have even been effectively challenged without the active involvement of the citizens of Carroll County. Our critique of it and our involvement against it gave courage to the National Park Service in standing up against the powerline.

      So, I would prefer to not have opposition squelched. And I believe your support of Clean line will not serve anyone well.

  3. bob Post author

    What you neglect to address is how the Ozarks are already being damaged due to local pollutants and global warming. By promoting wider use of sustainable clean energy as a replacement for fossil fuel powered electrical energy, I am working to protect not just the couple of thousand acres of the Ozarks, but rather millions of acres of Ozarks here in Arkansas and the rest of the planet.

    1. Doug Stowe

      I am certainly well aware of the impacts of global warming on the Ozarks. What you are failing to take into consideration is the impact of transmission lines… the use of herbicides to control vegetation, the overall industrialization of the Ozark landscape, the damage to endangered species, the fact that transmission lines keep control of our energy future in the hands of corporate partners like AEP, the largest corporate producer of greenhouse gasses in the US.

      Your position is that the state of Arkansas must be sacrificed for the greater good… But, the coastal areas of the US in the east have the energy potential to supply the needs of 1/3 of the US, and windpower has met significant opposition on the East Coast. Windpower at Cape Cod was removed due to it being so objectionable to tourists and residents alike. So this is also a matter of social justice, in which those who have less power must bear the burdens of an industrialized landscape so that folks on the East coast are removed from engagement in making difficult decisions about their energy future.

      If you would like to discuss any of this outside the context of your blog, you are welcome to email me through mine.

  4. bob Post author

    Doug, we are just going to have
    agree we disagree. My position is that a few thousand acres of privately held land, virtually all of which has been cut over, some more than once will have power lines strung over it. Owners will be compensated. Pastures, hay fields, even row crops will see minimal disturbance. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need power lines, but the world isn’t perfect. Wind generated power is better than coal generated power, but we have to get the power from where the wind blows to where the people are. Please don’t respond here. If you really want to continue this discussion please go to one of my posts where the discussion is appropriate. I have written on wind power in general and the proposed HVDC line in particular.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.