Archive for the ‘UW School of Public Health’ Category

It is truly an odd occurrence when the News Corp. owned Wall Street Journal basically agrees with http://www.alternet.org about the impact of rising student debt. Alternet describes the forces that have turned students into docile lap dogs. What’s No. 1 on the list? In their words: “1. Student-Loan Debt. Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force. ” Alternet notes: “Today in the United States, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year colleges have student-loan debt, including over 62 percent of public university graduates. While average undergraduate debt is close to $25,000, I increasingly talk to college graduates with closer to $100,000 in student-loan debt.” So no student activism. No force for change. No protesting on campuses when unaccountable and powerfully connected Boards of Regents raise tuition 10% for some graduate students like me at the University of Washington School of Public Health or 20% on undergraduates. When I asked my fellow students at the UW School of Public Health to at least voice concern over rising tuition, no one, as far as I could see, bothered to write or say a thing in a public manner that demonstrated group action or even shared messaging. It was terribly depressing to see not even a peep. I was even invited to a “coffee meeting” to discuss my “emails” by a faculty member — a hint that too much protest was not welcomed. Had there been a unified voice, administrators might actually realize that their decisions are shackling students with debt that grows like a cancer on the loan principal. But no, the students were as quiet as sheep. I would agree with Alternet. Fear has completely pacified the few graduate students I know. It works.


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In light of the University of Washington’s recent financial aid statement to me, it’s no surprise that media have been covering this debt bubble for some time. Here’s some coverage from 2010, when it was reported student loan debt surpassed credit card debt. That is truly a remarkable milestone in American finance.



AUGUST 9, 2010, 1:13 PM ET

Student-Loan Debt Surpasses Credit Cards

By Mary Pilon

Consumers now owe more on their student loans than their credit cards.

Americans owe some $826.5 billion in revolving credit, according to June 2010 figures from theFederal Reserve. (Most of revolving credit is credit-card debt.) Student loans outstanding today — both federal and private — total some $829.785 billion, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com.

“The growth in education debt outstanding is like cooking a lobster,” Mr. Kantrowitz says. “The increase in total student debt occurs slowly but steadily, so by the time you notice that the water is boiling, you’re already cooked.”

By his math, there is $605.6 billion in federal student loans outstanding and $167.8 billion in private student loans outstanding. He estimates that $300 billion in federal student loan debts have been incurred in the last four years.

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This is my first post on a blog that I will update periodically concerning the many facets of the higher education bubble that is creating an unsustainable model of educating our future workers and leaders and leaving an entire generation in crushing debt. As all economists note, all bubbles burst, and we are in the midst of a historic pricing bubble within the higher education sector that can charge students now more than $50,000 a year at prestigious schools for a single year of education. As a second year student at the University of Washington School of Public Health, I just came off my first year as an out of state student, and spent more $30,000 on tuition and a meager health insurance plan. That does not count books, rent, food, bills, other insurance, and other expenses. I should qualify for in-state residency next year, which will drop my costs for tuition and the same meager insurance plan to more than $18,000.

I have tried to explain what this reality means to my faculty and even to the Dean of the School of Public Health. In my personal opinion, the faculty and the administration do not fully understand the realities of the business model that is being used by large, elite universities like the University of Washington to price students into a lifetime of indentured servitude–meaning owing debt to lending institutions to be paid back over decades with interest often exceeding the principal before a promissory note is paid in full. Here is what my recently received UW financial aid statement for 2011-12 noted my costs would be, were I to be an out of state student at the UW School of Public Health this year. And this lowballs the cost of room and board for Seattle and does not include nearly $2,800 for health insurance (the critical safety net all of us need and are educated about daily at the School of Public Health):

Cost Description Cost Amount

Estimated Tuition and Fees $29,510

Books and Supplies $1,206

Room and Board $13,812

Personal Expenses $2,265

Transportation $1,524

Total Cost of Attendance   $48,317

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