College tuitions are sky-high. Easy money loaned to eager undergraduates, without so much as a credit history check, has allowed universities to raise the price of instruction to unheard levels. Since 1990 costs have dramatically outpaced inflation. College costs have risen by 260%, while all consumer items have increased by only 120%.
Novice, uninformed, students overextended with loan payments they are ill-equipped to repay, face a bleak future. Bad loans don’t concern the schools. They collect their money “upfront”.
It’s past time to propose legislation requiring colleges receiving federal money to enact policies designed to expose the risks on student loans, lower tuitions, and, upon graduation, vastly improve students’ chances for getting a good job.
Here are 3 common sense, real-life policies worth considering.
First, let’s bring transparency to the liabilities involved in borrowing money for college. Begin by requiring truth-in-lending disclosure form. Before receiving the cash, undergraduates must receive two things. One is their credit score. The second is a payout schedule showing the amount of interest to be collected, and the monthly payouts made, on a fully amortized loan. Schools accepting dollars from loans given to applicants whose FICO number is under 620 will no longer be absolved from the consequences of those notes going bad. They will share the burden at least equally with the financial institutions doing the lending.
Next, all courses being taught by graduate students should be provided without charge or discounted by at least 75%. Given the cost per credit, you should have at least a minimum expectation of receiving instruction from a professor. What’s the educational rationale behind having someone a couple of years older than the coeds giving lectures? If universities don’t won’t want to put highly paid Ph.D.’s in front of classes, discount the courses they’re not teaching.
Third, require every undergrad, when picking a major, be given the rate of full-time employment, and average salary in their chosen field. This would be done during mandated, documented meetings with the department head. Discussions must include the percentage of alumni from a specific program finding workplace successes directly traceable to that major; and how long it took them to get a job. If undergraduates are not counseled in this manner and are unable to find work, the institution becomes liable for the refund of all monies related to courses taken in their focused area of study. We need to put an end to 19 and 20-year-olds being steered to useless majors that benefit a specific school of study, much more than young adults striving for a financially successful, rewarding career.
These proposals are designed to help empower students and parents with the tools needed to freely make informed decisions affecting the future, while assuring that institutions of higher learning have, at long last, some real financial skin in the game.