Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beating on Young People

It's rare that I would post anything from Nerve.com, and the whole of this essay, "Coming Home: The Sexual Trials of the Boomerang Kid" is certainly NSFW, but I was struck by this graf:

The journalist-shrinks all seemed to think we boomerang kids favored our parents' homes over the bright and terrifying world of adult responsibility. They made us sound like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, whimpering, when anyone asked what we were doing, "I'm just sort of drifting... here ... in the pool." But, like most of my friends who lived at home, and like none of the boomerangers profiled in the blitz of articles, I worked full-time. I didn't pay rent, but I helped out with other bills. It infuriated me that this trend was attributed to some soft-headed psychological bullshit and not to pure economics.

On a related note, the author of last year's anti-youth book, Generation Me, is on the verge of getting some of her research published in an actual scientific journal. She argues based on personality testing that the Millennials are more narcississtic than previous generations. The interesting thing is that she, a PhD psychologist, published a whole popular book based on her pet theory without any previous academic recognition of its validity.

There's one piece of info on this subject that's always puzzled me when it's trotted out there:
Surveys show "current freshmen are much more interested in financial success and less in "a meaningful philosophy of life" than students were in the 1970s."

Current freshmen are under grossly expanded economic pressures compared to 30 years ago, including stagnating income, high student loan debt, and a greater necessity to work while in school. Maybe they're more interested in being well off because they're an entirely different class of people than the overwhelmingly white, male, middle class freshmen of the 1970s.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Debt Blogs

I was on vacation last week when this interesting story ran in the NYT about debt bloggers -- people crawling their way out of bad credit & debt situations and posting about it online to connect with a community. Almost all of them are members of Generation Debt. I have read some of these blogs and I think it's great that the Times will let more people know about them.

BusinessWeek on Generation Debt

Here's an interview I did with Marshall Goldsmith, a bestselling business book writer, executive coach, and a really nice person.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

STAR Act Reintroduced

This bill saves billions for student aid by starting the switch to direct loans.

The world (and the House Education & Labor Committee) is just full of good news for students/bad news for the student loan industry today. Check out my Huffington Post on the latter matter.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sallie Mae's Own Martha Stewart

Apparently Sallie Mae chairman and former CEO Al Lord decided to unload 1/3 of his stock in the company. . . just days before President Bush unveiled a proposed multibillion dollar cut in subsidies to the industry, sending the stock to a 2-yr low.

I'm sure none of Lord's good friends in Congress know anything about this.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Generation Debt Blog Review

A personal finance blog called The Simple Dollar took a detailed look at Generation Debt this week and ended with the recommendation:

Rather than strictly talking about dollars and cents, this book is mostly about the varieties of experience that these two generations (Baby Boomers and GenX/GenY) have in their early adult lives, mostly focusing on the younger set because their situations aren’t documented nearly as well. In that regard, the book succeeds brilliantly.

Thus, the people that really need to read this book are teenagers, twentysomethings, and their parents. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to consider giving a copy of this book to my parents and to my mother- and father-in-law to read because it captures in great detail the differences between our experiences.

Trent is reviewing "52 personal finance books in 52 weeks." He's got a lot of other interesting stuff on there too.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cry them a River

"Shares of student lending firms fell 6 percent or more Monday after President Bush's budget request included a proposal to cut lender subsidies by 0.5 percentage points..."
"The White House said reducing the subsidy would save an estimated $12.4 billion over five years that would be redirected to Pell Grants, which go to the poorest college students."
Yeah, that's right, the Bush White House. George W. Bush has got religion on student loans.

Also check this exchange: Senator Ted Kennedy says: "The student loan program works brilliantly for the banks, but not for the students. We ought to take the money-changers out of the temple in terms of student loans." A slight directed at the lenders, to which Tim Fitzpatrick, CEO of Sallie Mae responded, "Unfortunately, Sen. Kennedy has attempted to smear the integrity of Sallie Mae, the student loan industry, and the financial aid professionals. I'm certainly personally disappointed in his baseless and insulting attacks."
I'm confused--I don't really see any smear or attack there. Is Sallie Mae saying that they're not moneychangers by profession?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Spellings Announces Bush Administration's Pell Grant Increase for 08 Budget

Secretary Spellings announced today that the President's Fiscal Year 2008 Budget (due out on Monday) will include an increase in the maximum Pell Grant award to $4,600. The increase would be the largest jump in decades if Congress hadn't acted this week to raise the maximum award to $4,310 on what's left of the 2007 budget.

Everyone should remember this moment-we have our leaders fighting over who can make college more affordable for low-income students.

Here's the AP's story on this. What the Secretary did not announce today is whether the budget will cut billions of dollars in other federal program that target the same low-income students to pay for the Pell increase. We'll have to wait until Monday for the potentially dirty details. Here are my thougths from the article:

Luke Swarthout, higher education advocate at the U.S. PIRG, a public interest group, applauded the announcement but also said it's important to see how the increase will be paid for.

"Provided that the administration is not robbing Peter to pay 'Pell,' this could be a very meaningful increase for low-income students all across the country," he said.

Student Loan Justice: The Bus Tour

Student Loan Justice is a group representing thousands of Americans whose loan burdens have reached six figures through delinquency or default. Many of these people, whom I've heard from, are older and truly desperate, their educational dreams long abandoned, trapped in the spiral of unlimited lateness and penalty fees and ruined credit, with no possibility of relief through bankruptcy.
SLJ formed a PAC in December. The founder and other members are now traveling the country in a bus meeting with lawmakers to push their agenda of relief and amnesty. They want student loans treated like other forms of consumer debt, including the ability to refinance and declare bankruptcy. From their latest update:
We are currently leaving Santa Monica enroute to Tucson by way of Phoenix. We have met with the staff of 5 members of the education committees thus far: Wu, Woolsey, Miller, McKeon, and Sanchez.
Also, we have been greeted at our stops by various members...this is important...helps keep the morale up!
The "bus" continues to function well, except for a slight mishap (flat tire) in Cherry Valley.
The meetings have gone well. Some staff have suggested measures even more beneficial than what we are currently proposing, although we did meet some skepticism from Miller's staff with regards to the payoff plan for defaulters (agenda item #1 for the PAC). This is of particular concern, since Miller is Chairman of the house education Subcommittee. It would behoove you all to contact the House Committee, and let them feel your pain!! Their phone number in Washington D.C. is: