How to Restructure College Costs and Kill Wokeness (with One Fell Swoop)
Go to a bank and ask to borrow $100,000. Maybe you’re starting a new business. Maybe you want to buy a home to rent out to other people.
The bank clerk, rightfully skeptical, will ask how you plan to pay that money back. And he or she won’t want generalities. That bank employee will want specific and detailed information, up to and including character references, your last pay stub, and a realistic assessment of what kind of income you’ll soon generate if you get this loan. The same procedures should apply to student loans — but don’t.
Let’s go back 40 years, shall we?
In the 1980s, adults and a wide variety of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) assured me and every other child of that generation that having a college degree automatically assured you a fantastic income.
In hindsight, those adults and those PSAs misled a good many of us, but not everyone. Engineers and people in business, for instance, make an exceptional amount of money with college degrees. But that’s not true for a wide variety of students in other majors who spend entire careers making the same amount of money they’d make working at Burger King.
Regardless, people should choose careers that make them happy. I have interviewed many people in many well-paying professions who confess they’d sacrifice their generous salaries as lawyers or as corporate America minions for a job that makes them happy.
But people still need to know if college offers an appropriate return on their investment.
To help future generations, and for the sake of future national solvency, colleges need reform.
The banks and/or the government should only give out student loans to students who plan to enter a career where the starting entry-level salary is, at a minimum, $45,000 a year. The professions that pay less than that — but still require a college degree — will see their hiring pools dry up. At least one of four things will happen.
• Those employers will pay more salary, by necessity, assuming they can afford it.
• Those employers will drop the college diploma requirement and save young men and woman a crapload of money. As an alternative, perhaps there is more value in apprenticeships?
• The people who run colleges and universities will have no choice but to reform or restructure the way college works. Students should go to college for two years instead of four. This would cut the cost of college in half. And, let’s face it, half of college as it currently exists involves taking courses that (a) have nothing to do with your major and (b) are merely courses you already took in high school, except at a more advanced level.
• The government (hopefully) won’t waste any more taxpayer money forgiving student loans.
There are other aspects to consider.
As student debt has soared, the size of college endowments have also soared. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, at the end of fiscal year 2020, the market value of the endowment funds of colleges and universities was $691 billion. That’s 2 percent higher than the beginning of that fiscal year when the total was $675 billion.
The five institutions with the largest endowments at the end of fiscal year 2020 were Harvard University ($42 billion), Yale University ($31 billion), The University of Texas System ($31 billion), Stanford University ($29 billion), and Princeton University ($26 billion).
Endowments are not taxed. Student debt should be subject to bankruptcy, and the default balance should come out of the colleges’ endowments.
State legislators should contact state school presidents and discuss what to do about college majors that offer terrible returns on investments.
As a side benefit, that might go a long way toward getting Woke politics out of universities.
Sounds like a win-win to me.
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