Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Subprime Student Loans

A fierce article at the New America Foundation.

"The median graduation rate for proprietary schools is only 38 percent--by far the lowest rate in the higher education sector. What's more, even those students who make it through often can't find jobs. The reason for this is simple: while some proprietary schools offer a good education, many more are subpar at best. Thus large numbers of students leave with little to show for their effort other than a heap of debt. Not surprisingly, students at proprietary schools are far more likely to default on their loans than those at other colleges. The appalling treatment of disadvantaged students at the hands of proprietary schools ought to be a national scandal."

I'm really of two minds about for-profit colleges, as my next article in Fast Company will make clear. The important fact is that they enroll these students more than anyone else does. Whether they're "serving" those students or "targeting" them depends in part on the college and in part on your point of view.

As far as the graduation rates--various measures indicate that students who start at two-year community colleges don't do much better.

Kevin Carey of Education Sector made the point to me that default rates are the place to keep a tight rein. If the colleges have high default rates then by definition students aren't getting their money's worth.
Reining in the growth of private student loans, which is the larger context of this article, is crucial as well. Fewer private loans = fewer unscrupulous, expensive for-profit colleges.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Awesome Class at Wellesley Teaches Students How to Get a Financial Life

via NPR;
Apparently, the class fills up every year within minutes. The professors, two women from the Economics department, say that it's one of the hardest courses they teach because all the information has to be updated every year as laws and regulations change.

The course page pulls together a bunch of great web resources on personal finance, budgeting, housing, investments, etc.

In my new book, DIY U, I suggest personal finance is one of the gaps in most people's college experience that might be filled with open course ware, if you're not lucky enough to go to a college like Wellesley--or if you can't get into the class.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blast from the Gen Debt Past

"Like thousands of other single women living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Brigette, 24, collects Medicaid and food stamps. Unlike most of her neighbors, she's white and a college graduate—the kind of welfare recipient rarely considered in debates over public assistance." (Generation Debt, Village Voice, January 4, 2005)

"According to a Times City Room post picked up by NYU Local, NYU journalism grad student Ryan McLendon, who is almost $100,000 in debt and about to graduate an expert in a dying industry, has applied for food stamps." (Today, via Gawker)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hear Me Thursday Morning on CBC's "The Current"

I'll be talking about unpaid's part of a whole series they're doing on "developing trends and changes in how and why we work."

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Students Blocked from Transferring from Community Colleges to Four-Years in CA

An argument for greater access to online programs if I've ever heard one: budget cuts are keeping thousands of community college students--40,000 students total--from transferring to California state universities to pursue their dreams.

The students are from families that can't afford to send them out of state or even 50 miles away. They have little choice but to drop out, wait around taking makework classes, wasting time and money, or go into debt to pursue a private degree.

Week of Action to Support the Pell Grant

Campus Progress, the United States Student Association and the PIRGs are running a campaign for students to support the Senate's passage of a large increase in the Pell Grant and an end to the lender subsidies in the student loan bill, already approved by the House. They urge students to "tweet your senator" which I've never heard of before. Chuck Schumer has tweeted exactly one time, and Gillibrand doesn't seem to have an official Twitter account, so I guess I'll just settle for sending an email.