(Getty Images)

It’s not easy being a student today: The federal student loan interest rate doubled on July 1, state financial assistance continues to decline, and university tuition continues to climb. Some say that raising tuition enables schools to subsidize low-income students, but critics say this high-tuition high-aid model actually ends up hurting students in need. We discuss the rising costs of higher education and school loans.

Guests:
Debbie Cochrane, program director of The Institute for College Access & Success
David Alcocer, interim director of student financial support at the University of California
Joshua Freedman, policy analyst in the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation
Andrew Gillen, research director at Education Sector

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Some universities cost a lot, but you can get a good education at a state school for a decent price. What I do not hear being discussed is how a young person can afford a new car, all the new high tech toys, and then whine about not being able to afford college.

    Then there is the issue of what many students who end up with debt have majored in, You better major in a field that will have jobs that pay well and will offer scholarships as well as income to pay off student debt if you have debt.

    Our son paid his own way thru university with the help of some scholarships and graduated debt free. As have many of our friends children. It can be done.

    • thucy

      Beth,
      Good point, but a couple of details might be useful.
      1. what year did your son attend/graduate college?
      2. is he currently working in his field?
      3. was he paying rent while in school, or was he able to live at home?

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        As a side note, our grandson and his sister (twins) both attend university here in CA.

        Both have scholarships, and have saved their money since age ten, and at age nineteen they will be Sr come fall. One is a science major, one engineering.

        Like their Dad our son, they will have no debt when they graduate. They commute to school.Both also work every day and all day come summer and holidays.

        Yes, our son has worked in the field he majored in ever since graduating from university.

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      Talk is cheap. You are not considering how total student loan debt exceeds all others —it’s a mountain your molehill-sized finger-wagging will never address.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        I consider everything. Choosing a major where few jobs will be found or where the jobs that are found are poor paying is the students fault and no one elses.

  • ItsChippp

    We live in a crazy country, where too many people are unwilling to invest in other people’s education (not to mention other people’s health care, other people’s food security, retirement security, other people’s public transit…) – as if we don’t pay the price in other ways for the resulting lower levels of education, less disposable income (and decreased productivity, emergency health care, crumbling infrastructure…)

  • Bob Fry

    I lived near a CSU so lived at home when I went to school. I don’t understand paying tens of thousands of dollars just to move away to get the same education. 2-year colleges work too.

    • thucy

      That was an option because 1) you happened to live near a CSU and 2) your family allowed you to live at home. And… I gather you attended CSU some decades back, when overall costs were cheaper.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        CSU is still a bargain in 2013 IF someone has planned ahead and has their priorities straight.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Thank you Bob Fry for making a sane observation. Even today a CSU education is very very affordable. All depends on what a persons priorities are.

  • erictremont

    Mr. Alcocer, you can’t reduce the affordability problem to declining state support—you must acknowledge the cost pressures associated with faculty and staff health benefits, defined benefit plan pensions, and post-retirement health benefits—UC faces huge financial obligations associated with these compensation costs. Nobody forced UC to incur these obligations, it was a choice they made.

  • clumsycontessa

    what frustrates me is that every one seems to be aware that we need to change the price of tuition, but no one wants to spend the money needed to change things.

  • Edward Galvez

    There seems to be a lack of financial education. Students, like myself, enroll in undergrad and grad school to meet that “american dream” without realizing the challenge of paying back major loans. The process for accepting these loans as a naive freshman is too easy. What kinds of things are being done to improve this? How are colleges helping students become more informed consumers of college education?

  • Valerie Nebo-Hutchson

    I am a parent of three young children and can see how this would be either a disheartening or, with some guidance, a quite helpful conversation. What insight might you have on how much middle class earners (between 75-100,000 annually) should save per child per year, beginning when the child starts kindergarten?

  • R.j. Zar

    How is it with the technological advances that we’ve made in the past 15 years that the Administrative costs of also skyrocketed, So much so that the majority of funding seems to go towards maintaining the bureaucracy at the colleges and universities. With school presidents getting in excess of $300,000, Why not cut down on the administrative, Instead of raising tuition fees? Why are the students getting the short end of the stick?

  • Skip Conrad

    Other countries, like Denmark, France, Germany, etc. are able to offer virtually free tuition for their universities. How do they do it?

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Have family and friends in France and I know that education may be free but your choice of a major also is key. You cannot take the fluff courses many universities here in the states offer.

      And their universities are more akin to the universities here in the states up until the 70’s which required a liberal arts education which included a language, science, math classes.

  • Jeremy

    So I had a very interesting situation
    in which I was given loans that I didn’t need. Despite my account being
    settled for each semester loans were thrown on to my account that I didn’t
    need. The school held the extra cash an accrued interest while my interest on
    the loan grew. When I graduated they sent me a check for the money which I
    ended up just sending to the loan company. Colleges have a policy of giving you
    any loan and it seems quite predatory.

  • John Hernlund

    A caller asked where is all the extra college tuition going, but the answer given on air was highly unsatisfactory. In fact, for most universities in recent year the tuition has been raised to cover losses of pension funds that have been gambled away in the stock market. I.e., it is the same reason that states, counties, and municipalities have busted public unions, and made employees pay the price for fiscal mismanagement.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Student loan borrowers saddled with monthly payments for 25 years can’t buy homes, take out mortgages, and contribute to their communities and join the middle class our parents and grandparents enjoyed. Bankruptcy laws exclude student loans uniquely. Why can Donald Trump go bankrupt more than two dozens times and yet student loan borrowers cannot? Think of the flood of consumer spending that could occur if borrowers under water could get the equal protection of law?

    Do educational institutions or the banks who borrow money for near nothing from the Fed (that’s us) bear the blame for the way laws are written?

  • Guest

    My husband’s graduate school loans were sold and sold again with variable interest rates. By the end of is schooling and deferment he did not know who owned which loan. It was a nightmare. He graduated in 2008 and had to defer his loans for a year because it was a nightmare trying to find a job.

    We just started receiving bills from seemingly random financial institutions. How is this selling of student loan debt with a high variable interest rate allowed? Many of his rates are double the average 30 year fixed rate for a home loan.

  • Steve Somerstein

    Your program, except for a quick passing nod, did not address the big elephant in the room, and the fundamental cause for the extraordinary increase in the cost of higher education. And that is the incredible bloating of the college and university infrastructures. From the race to build new buildings, to the increase in support staffing…without the associated funding in hand to pay these yearly upkeep costs. Everything has been laid onto the student tuition fees. This irresponsible dereliction of duty by the schools has created this financial debacle for the students. It is certainly worthy of a Congressional investigation, and a FORUM program properly focused on causes – and NOT how best to get the students to afford the burden.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor