Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

The Ivory Debtors' Prison

Neetu Arnold

Administrative bloat and extraneous spending by colleges and universities are draining the American middle class while enriching administrators and politicians. 

Meet Our New Research Associate

Peter Wood

Neetu Arnold is joining the NAS staff as our research associate for a new project on student debt and administrative growth. 

Episode #24: The Never Ending College Story with Cheyne Zeller

Peter Wood

Peter is joined by his personal trainer for a conversation on the allure of a four-year degree, the struggles and debt these students face, and the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Making Higher Education Accountable

David Randall

How do we get from "Admissions Officer" to "Pell Grant Harvester"? David Randall gives us the story and how to reform colleges in this speech from Grove City College.

Is College For Everyone?

Peter Wood

Doubts about the possibilities of higher education are becoming non-partisan.

How to Stop Complaining and Start Fixing America's Higher Education Crisis

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood surveys higher education's problems and offers solutions. 

Why the Education Department's "gainful employment" rule is futile

George Leef

George Leef argues that the "gainful employment" rule will reduce students' options for employment without helping them avoid debt.

Prager U: The Government vs. the American Character

Jason Fertig

Explosions in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare programs are changing the American character for the worse—from one that focuses on individual responsibility and giving, to one that focuses on consumption.

Income Share Agreements: Can They Finance Higher Education?

George Leef

Equity funding for college students is attracting attention, but can't work as long as we have easy government loans.

“Kickstart” Your Academic Career: Crowdfunding to Pay for College

Marilee Turscak

Crowdfunding websites allow students to earn support through the Internet to cover tuition costs.

From Each According to His Earnings

George Leef

Making student loan repayments contingent on graduates' income would encourage more weak students to take out loans they can't repay, writes George Leef.

Our two bubbles: housing and college

George Leef

George Leef writes that the housing bubble and the college bubble both stemmed from an entitlement mentality fueled by government programs.

What If Colleges Had Some "Skin in the Game"?

George Leef

What if colleges had to pay back the government for defaulted student loans?

Federal Loan Interest Rate Doubles

Ashley Thorne

Time is up, and future student borrowers will feel the sting of government control of higher education finance as a 6.8 percent interest rate on Stafford loans goes into effect.

Student Debt and Social Justice

Tessa Carter

Is student debt a matter of social justice?

Little Imagination in the Gates Foundation Papers to "Reimagine" Federal Student Aid

George Leef

The Gates Foundation commissions 15 papers on “reimagining” federal student aid.

Here's Some of that Famous Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

George Leef

Taxpayers lose $1 billion or more a year to fraudulent use of Pell grants.

A Degree that Students Can Afford

Crystal Plum

A recent report shows a decline in college enrollment due to a weak economy. Texas Gov. Perry hopes to offer a more affordable option with the $10,00 degree.

Doubting College’s Worth Beyond Jobs and Earnings

Ashley Thorne

When Americans today ask, “Is college worth it?” they are not just asking whether they will earn more than most high school graduates.

My Thoughts on the Harkin Report

George Leef

The recent report on for-profit colleges is worth paying attention to, but its approach is problematic, writes George Leef.

More Good News on the Value of Your College Degree

Glenn Ricketts

NAS board member Tom Lindsay describes the rewards of your degree in popular culture.

Making Student Loan Debt Fun

Ashley Thorne

Borrowers can work through their student debt one step at a time with the services of a new program called SALT.

College Is a Drain

Ashley Thorne

This week brought a shower of pronouncements about how college is squandering American resources. 

Give It the Old College Try

Richard Vedder

Richard Vedder criticizes low interest student loans, which he says will not be of much benefit to students and will serve to entice people to go to college unnecessarily.

There Are As Many Student-Loan Debtors as College Graduates

Richard Vedder

Richard Vedder discusses new data that reveal huge numbers of students are very slow in paying back loans and that the financial problems associated with student-loan debt have been understated.

Defending Online Learning, Part One

Thomas K. Lindsay

Once a skeptic, Thomas K. Lindsay now sees online education as a powerful means to address the crisis in American higher education.

Beware of FAFSA!

George Leef

Unintended consequences of federal student aid.

Parents Pile Up Education Loans, Imperil Retirement Years

Glenn Ricketts

Well-meaning parents who borrow heavily to finance their children's college education end up with mountainous debts and endangered retirements

Overinvesting in Higher Ed

Richard Vedder

Should nearly everyone go to college? No, says Richard Vedder.

Games of Chance

Peter Wood

Peter Wood observes that even as higher education frets about students’ gambling addictions, it feeds the underlying problem.

US Education Dept. Flunks Statisitics 101

Glenn Ricketts

Preparing a report for possible use in analyzing eligibility for student loans by race, the Department of Education forgot to include African American default data. Mr. Ricketts wonders why.

College is a Risk, Not a Guarantee

Jason Fertig

We need to help prospective students better understand the costs and risks of going to college, argues Jason Fertig.

No, They Can't Renege On Student Debt

Charlotte Allen

An Occupy Wall Street spin-off movement urges students to default on their educational debts. No way, says Charlotte Allen, since taxpayers would have to pick up the tab.

I Don't Usually Recommend Rap Videos....

George Leef

But here's a very pointed one about the student debt bubble, with many sad college grads appealing to Barack to save them.

Video: Trevor Gast on Student Loan Debt Forgiveness

A student loan expert weighs in on loan forgiveness: "it's really putting a band-aid on a much bigger problem."

What If There Were Prison Loan Debts?

Kate Hamilton

The average cost for one year of prison is more expensive than one year at Princeton University.  

Strong Dissent on Obama's New Student Loan Policy

George Leef

Andrew Gillen of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity registers strong dissent on Obama's new student loan policy in this essay on Minding the Campus. Just like Obama's moves to deal with the effects of the housing bubble, this new student loan forgiveness policy does not deal with the underlying problem and will just make it worse over time.

Default Education

Peter Wood

College grads protesting their student-loan burden would do better to protest the quality of their college programs, writes Peter Wood.

Prof. Art Carden on the OWS Protesters

George Leef

Writing on this Christian Science Monitor blog, Rhodes College economics professor Art Carden argues that while the protesters made some valid points (unwittingly, I'd say), they are on very thin ice when complaining about their college loans.

NYT Writer Observes That College Costs a Lot, But Students Learn Little

George Leef

While higher ed expenses and concomitant student debt loads have risen greatly, many students put in little effort to get B or better averages. 

Let's All Go to College? Not So Fast

Glenn Ricketts

Retired Rutgers University sociologist, Jackson Toby, examines what role a large cohort of disappointed, unemployed college graduates may have played in driving the recent upheavals in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. 

College Debt and Colleges' Extravagance

Glenn Ricketts

Why is there such ballooning debt among so many new college graduates? 

Coming Student Loan Crisis: Crony Capitalism + Egalitarian Liberalism

Jonathan Bean

Take the notion that every child deserves to attend college (egalitarian liberalism) and add crony capitalism (banks with the power to squeeze you despite bankruptcy (i.e., kind of like the IRS!). The result is the warning of several commentators recently of a coming student loan crisis. 

Tipping Point: Student Loan Debt and the Higher Education Bubble

Peter Wood

How insupportable debt is making Americans ripe for cultural defection from college.

Investing in Debt

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood analyzes the burgeoning problem of post-graduation student debt.

Video: The Federal Takeover of Higher Education

Peter Wood spoke about the effects of federal direct lending on rising generations and higher education at a panel with the Family Research Council.

Telling It Like It Is

George Leef

Professor Christina Hoff Sommers has written a wonderful review of Andrew Ferguson’s new book Crazy U. 

Series Asks "Should Liberal Arts Supporters Care About For-Profit Ed?"

Ashley Thorne

NAS president Peter Wood has written a four-part series considering the value of the for-profit higher education sector, and whether those who care about the liberal arts should also care about the fate of this besieged sector. If there is a higher education bubble, for-profits may outlive not-for-profits in the case of a burst. His series draws on a number of his personal encounters with the for-profit industry.

$200K in Debt for Her BA in Sociology

George Leef

Kelli Space is a poster child for the damage done by our college degree mania, fueled by easy federal money .

The College Debt Bubble on CNBC

Jason Fertig

A new documentary raises red flags about higher lending for higher learning in America.

No Good Guys in This Fight

George Leef

The for-profit higher education industry doesn't always deserve opprobrium.

An English Professor Who Understands Austrian Malinvestment Theory

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Troy Camplin discusses his rather unsatisfactory experience as a Ph.D. who can only obtain adjunct teaching positions. He sees his situation (staying at home with his young children because day care costs more than he'd make by teaching an array of courses) as evidence for the Austrian school's explanation that government actions can distort people's decision-making and lead them into costly mistakes -- such as taking out lots of governmentally backed student loans to get degrees that don't pay off. There are plenty of interesting revelations in this piece, including one where Camplin was told, "Now, we aren't saying that you should dumb down your course...." when that was just what the administrators wanted him to do.

A Victim of the Education Bubble

George Leef

Listen to this illuminating interview Peter Schiff did with a student who is $200,000 in debt for a sociology degree from Northeastern University. Schiff gets right at the root of the problem: government guaranteed student loans.

Liberals Begin to See the College "Bubble"

George Leef

Writing for Huffington Post, Anya Kamenetz compares the huge level of student loan debt to the housing bubble. I'm glad to see understanding that we have oversold college spreading, but Kamenetz misses the role of the government in the college bubble, just as leftist writers turned a blind eye to the role of the government in the housing bubble. There would have been no housing bubble if it hadn't been for federal policy pushing home-ownership as if it were a good investment for everyone and making unrealistically cheap loans available. Similarly, government officials, starting with Barack Obama, keep telling young Americans that they need to go to college (otherwise, they're letting not just themselves but the nation down, says BHO) and enabling even the most academically weak, disengaged students to get into college with financial assistance from Uncle Sam. Kamenetz makes it sound as though the bad actors are all in the for-profit sector: "Someone with experience in the for-profit college marketing business told me that the same online sales geniuses who used to work for mortgage brokers are now employed by for-profit colleges. Their business is the same: fill out the forms, get the money, consequences be damned. Will we stop them this time?" Ah, but you'll find lots of kids drowning in their student loan debts who went to public colleges and universities as well. Those schools are just as eager to lure in warm bodies to fill the dorms and school coffers, just as eager to keep them enrolled even if they are learning little, and just as eager to slap educational credentials on them and send them into a job world that many will find as hospitable as Antarctica. The trouble is not the profit motive; non-profit institutions are no less hungry for revenue than proprietary ones. The trouble is that government policy makes it easy for people to misjudge the ratio between costs and benefits, leading to a profusion of decisions that borrowers later regret. Letting students escape from their debts in bankruptcy, which Kamenetz favors, only deals with the symptoms. I say we should attack the underlying pathology.

A Ticking Time Bomb in Higher Education: Call Jack Bauer or Go Back to Sleep?

Jason Fertig

Is the higher ed status quo sustainable? What factors could trigger a bubble burst?

10 Reasons Not to Go to College

Ashley Thorne

A sampling of arguments for the idea that college may not be for everyone.

Obama's Foolish New Student Loan Forgiveness Policy

George Leef

Recently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that the new policy of forgiving student loan debts for those who "follow their heart" and enter public sector employment will do wonders for the U.S. In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I say that it's utter nonsense. Public sector employment pays very well and gives much greater job security than those who labor in the competitive world. A very large number of college graduates want those government jobs and forgiving some of their student loan debt because they've worked at them for ten years is just a gift from the overburdened taxpayers. One more thing -- with the private sector (where wealth is produced, unlike the government) struggling these days under the many burdens and obstacles the government has put in its way, shouldn't we worry about the government luring away talented people it needs?

Radio: Obama-Ed

Ashley Thorne

Peter Wood appeared on University Talk radio to explain what will happen when student loans come directly from the government.

Tune In Tonight: Peter Wood on Direct Lending

Ashley Thorne

NAS President Peter Wood will be on the radio this evening speaking about federal direct lending.

Government Higher Ed Takeover Looms, NAS Reports

Ashley Thorne

Federal control of the student loan industry could mean serious unintended consequences for the university.

Obama Loans, Who Collects? The Not-so-Hidden Dangers of Federal Direct Student Lending

Peter Wood

Peter Wood paints a picture of what federal control of higher education could look like in practice.

Obama-Care Meets Obama-Ed

Peter Wood

The health care bill isn't the only government takeover Obama is seeking to pass through "reconciliation." He's also looking to take control of the student loan industry.

The State of the University

Ashley Thorne

What President Obama's State of the Union address means for the future of higher education.

A SUNY Prof Anathematizes Sellout of Standards

Candace de Russy

In a bid to to raise tuition revenues, the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill lowered admissions and retention standards to admit unqualified applicants who had little hope of graduating, according to a lawsuit filed by a former dean. (Disclosure: I served as a SUNY Trustee for 12 years.)
 
According to Inside Higher Ed, Thomas J. Hickey, who filed the suit, claims he was fired as dean in retaliation for querying financially-motivated academic policies instituted by top administrators -- policies which condemned students to failure at the campus.
 
In an extraordinary communication cited in the suit, Thomas Cronin, a physics professor,  ringingly denounced the practices:
“The list of academically and morally corrupt practices that ensue from our inability to adhere to our own standards is rather long. One of our worst offenses is that we admit, and re-admit students absolutely unqualified and absolutely incapable of achieving a college degree. Many go into debt or cause their families to go into debt into [sic] order to attempt a college degree. This is an absolutely corrupt practice and it may be criminal. If we have done this to even one student, then we are guilty of a low form of corruption."
That some campuses may engage in such practices would come as no surprise to seasoned observers of higher education. But what is remarkable, even shocking -- and encouraging in this age of general cowardice on the part of so much of the education status quo -- is the rare willingness of a professor and former administrator so boldly and publicly to take up the cause of restoring high academic standards.

Arne Duncan on Student Lending

George Leef

In today's Wall Street Journal, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan contributes a piece entitled "Banks Don't Belong in the Student Loan Business." What he opposes is federally subsidized bank loans and I'm with him on that. Subsidizing student loans is no better policy than subsidizing home loans. Where we part company is in his approval of direct government loans, which he wants to increase so that more students can "realize the dream of getting a college education." As I have frequently pointed out, a college degree is what many students want. Relatively few dream of education. Low-cost loans entice large numbers of young people who gain little if anything in the way of lasting knowledge and skills into college, where they pile of debts they'll have a hard time repaying once they get into the labor force and get a job that most high school kids could do. Besides that, nothing in the Constitution authorizes the federal government to lend money for this or any other purpose.

Student Loans Turn You Into a College Zombie

Ashley Thorne

In praise of choosing community college: http://www.collegezombies.com/ (3-minute video) Compare with "Why It's Worth It to Send My Kid to Yale"  at Huffington Post

Single Payer Lending

Peter Wood

The U.S. Houses passes "direct lending" bill as part of President Obama's plan for higher ed. What does it mean?

Undowments: Higher Education Goes for Broke

Peter Wood

The Cave

Peter Wood

It's October - time to pay attention to recent and upcoming trends in higher education, like the student loan crisis, the rise of distance learning, the therapeutic campus, and sustainability.

America's Financial Crisis and Higher Education

Peter Wood

Student loans going the way of home mortgages could have serious consequences for the university. A call to academe to pay attention to what's going on in American finance.

Are Students Customers? Yes

Ed Cutting

One of our members, Ed Cutting, argues that students should be treated with a customer service model based on the free market. After all, higher education can't get much worse, can it?

Hand It Over III

Dean Chin

Stop the spin: inside the financial aid numbers at Stanford

Hand It Over II

Dean Chin

Colleges Collect on Students' Summer Jobs

Hand It Over: Colleges Take Outside Scholarships for Granted

Dean Chin

Will outside scholarships, state and federal grants, or corporate employee tuition benefits help reduce my child

The Sweet Lemon Effect: College Grads Doubt Value of College Degrees-Except Their Own

Ashley Thorne

The American Council on Education released a survey showing that, although most people think that colleges in general charge unfair prices, most people also believe that their own alma mater charged them fairly. Whence the self-confidence?

What Does 'Sustainability' Have to Do With Student Loans?

Peter Wood

Students spend too much on too little as colleges buy in to some flimsy trends.

Igloo Building: A Primer on the Financial Aid Fiasco

Peter Wood

A glimpse at the student loan crisis and its implications for the academic world.

The Study Abroad Scandal, Round Two Harvard, Yale, Columbia among 25 Universities Investigated

The fleet of college and university programs that ferry students across the ocean to study abroad has hit stormy weather, at least in the Northeast. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has unleashed a second wave of subpoenas aimed at colleges he suspects of exploiting their students.