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Dec 06 2011

Strangely, my salary has not been following the same trajectory

Minnesota tuition rates have also been skyrocketing. My salary has been creeping upward at single digit percentage rates — low single digits, and we also had a freeze for a few years — and also, we haven’t been hiring swarms of new faculty, but only replacing retiring faculty (which, by the way, immediately reduces salary expenses). Why is this happening?

The answer is easy: state governments have been jettisoning their responsibilities and not paying for the educational institutions earlier, wiser generations invested in. Thank you, Republicans, the party of irresponsible spendthrifts, for coasting on the infrastructure built up 50 years ago, and letting it decay now.

(Also on Sb)

91 comments

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  1. 1
    SQB

    But you’re a PROFESSOR! You make millions already! And you have a trophy wife! You greedy bastard!

  2. 2
    TX_secular

    I’m not sure I follow your arguments. When you say that, “state governments have been jettisoning their responsibilities and not paying for the educational institutions…” are you referring to the increase in the percentage of tuition paid by students vs. taxpayers? Also, I am missing the point of this comment, “Republicans, the party of irresponsible spendthrifts,” How is this tied to increases in tuition costs in higher education?

    I’ve seen the overall cost of higher education increase every year, but I’m not sure how much of that is directly related to funding cuts by Republicans. Your statements do not explain why the costs keep increasing as well. Thanks for the clarifications.

    BTW: I love your blog. Thanks for the great posts.

  3. 3
    tbp1

    I am a college professor, too, and it’s incredibly disheartening to see how hard it is for many of our students to be in school. I teach music, so in addition to studying, our students really need to be practicing several hours every day, but lots of them simply can’t afford to be in school without jobs that take up a lot of the time when they should be practicing. The only alternative is to take out big loans, and music careers aren’t generally all that lucrative, except at the very pinnacle of the profession.
    We have a certain amount of scholarship money, but much too little for the actual need. When I went to college in the 70s tuition was a LOT lower, not just in absolute number of dollars, but more importantly in the fraction of a middle- or working-class income it took to send a child to college. Scholarships were much easier to come by as well. Between the more reasonable tuition and a hefty scholarship, my by-no-means wealthy parents were able to send me to college out of state. Neither they nor I took out any loans, and while I imagine money might have been a little tight at the beginning of each semester when fees were due, there was no huge hardship. I played in community orchestras for pocket money, but never had to wash dishes or wait table, and of course playing the repertory in these orchestras was valuable experience. It’s totally different for most students now, in all disciplines, not just mine.

  4. 4
    abadidea

    TX_secular: I took his point to be that the costs are going up but the quality is not, and in fact in many ways is going down. That means the money isn’t going where it ought.

  5. 5
    tbp1

    Oh, and my salary hasn’t gone up proportionally, either. In fact we went several years with no raise at all, and last year finally got a 3% raise. Mind you, I’m not really complaining: I make enough to get by on more than comfortably, and that’s saying a lot in today’s economy, but people should know that the ever increasing tuition is NOT going to teachers’ salaries.

  6. 6
    abadidea

    Or to add on to that: if the gov’t was investing proportionately in schools what it used to, the costs wouldn’t be going up very much at all in proportion to the middle-class income.

  7. 7
    eric

    Note that UC system’s annual in-state tuition in 1990 was $~1,600. IOW, extremely low, especially in comparison to universities of comparable quality. So while that geometric increase looks very alarming, even a 10x increase over the last two decades just puts it in the ‘reasonable price’ category.

    Just to be clear, I agree with PZ’s general comment about the deplorable lack of support for our higher education system. However, UC may not have been the best example given that even after this rapid increase, its costs are much lower than most schools of similar quality. ($6,500/year in 2007. Who wouldn’t pay that for UCLA or Berkeley?)

  8. 8
    yoav

    PZ, they can’t give you a raise because then there will be nothing left to the poor starving football coach. A few years ago I was a postdoc in a public university during a period of massive cuts in government funding, they were cutting academic programs left and right but at the same time the football coach got a million dollar raise (that is an extra million on top of his previous, already in the 7 figure range, salary). How many students could have got a scholarship if they used that million bucks a year for education? Well, once the Newt become president students would be able to pay for collage by cleaning toilets, they’ll have experience since they will be doing it since they were in elementary school.

  9. 9
    Gregory in Seattle

    In Washington State, the Democrats have controlled both houses of the Legislature and the Governorship for more than a decade, and we have seen exactly the same kind of incredibly steep rise in tuitions. In 2011, in-state tuition at the University of Washington increased 20%, from $8,700 in 2010 to $10,574. Tuition for the 2000-2001 academic year was $3,858, meaning an increase of 274% in just 12 years, all of which was approved by a Democratic-controlled state House, a Democratic-controlled state Senate and a Democratic governor.

    You cannot lay this on just the Republicans.

  10. 10
    raven

    The skyrocketing cost of public university educations has been a pet peeve of mine for a while.

    Back in the dark ages (70′s), I managed to graduate from a good public university with a heavily subsidized and quite good BS degree. Without any debt!!! Debt free!!! This was BTW, not unusual.

    IIRC, tuition the first year was ca. $600 for the year. Add fees, books, and living expenses.

    This same university today is way more expensive. Tuition is at least 10X higher and the state subsidy is not very much anymore.

    At one time there was a committment by our society that anyone who really wanted a college degree could get one, one way or another. This isn’t altruism, it is in the best interests of our society. Those days seem to be gone.

  11. 11
    Aquaria

    The PTB are determined to make college the province of the rich again.

    In 2011, in-state tuition at the University of Washington increased 20%, from $8,700 in 2010 to $10,574. Tuition for the 2000-2001 academic year was $3,858, meaning an increase of 274% in just 12 years, all of which was approved by a Democratic-controlled state House, a Democratic-controlled state Senate and a Democratic governor.

    You cannot lay this on just the Republicans.

    Actually, it is the fault of republislime.

    They’ve shifted the Overton window over so far that your average Democrat is the equivalent of a Republican ca 1992. The Dems have shifted ever rightward to win districts at all, because dumbass Americans have bought the Scumbag Reagan bullshit line about the government being worthless, and their taxes being better off in their own pockets. And enough conservatard Dems keep getting elected who are DINO.

  12. 12
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Obviously it’s hard to read these graphs from the top of your ivory towers.

  13. 13
    evolutiongrrrl

    Having sat on one too many committees, there are many legitimate reasons for the cost increases. Facilities costs are insane. Many of the old drafty buildings cost a fortune to heat and maintain. Library costs are skyrocketing. Many new buildings (rich donors want a building with their name on it, not a friggin scholarship) are being built and no one figures in the cost to maintain them.

    That said, the overwhelming reason is the shift in the cost of doing the work of the university. Most state schools have been defunded by the state, and the students are asked to pick up the slack. Blaming DINOs or Repugs isn’t the whole story- in AZ and CA there were/are real problems of balancing the budget.

    And I have to wonder if there isn’t a subtle (not so?) backlash against education in general. Most folks don’t want to be labeled “smart” but rather rich or good-looking. Our society is embracing the drama of reality TV, get rich quick schemes and fame. This seems to play in all too easily to the hands of the oligarchy.

  14. 14
    rational jen

    evolutiongrrrl: I have a problem with your argument. Administrative expenses seem to be unnecessarily skyrocketing as well. I have a real problem being asked to double my tuition when university presidents (such as the president of my school, Portland State) are having their salary increased from 100K to 300K between 2000 and 2011.

  15. 15
    Steve LaBonne

    …in AZ and CA there were/are real problems of balancing the budget.

    No, these are not real problems at all- they’re problems artificially induced by conservative insanity and voter stupidity.

  16. 16
    carlie

    YES THANK YOU. I keep banging my head against the wall trying to explain this to people. State governments used to fund 50-75% of public state college expenses; tuition has NEVER covered anything near the full cost of education. That’s the whole point of public education in the first place, that it’s subsidized by taxes. In the last 20 years states have been cutting their funding to state colleges to the point that most are now at 30% of costs or less (I think California is now down to something like 15%?). The only way to deal with the gap is to raise tuition, raise associated fees (which often aren’t under the same rigid cost increase requirements that tuition is),somehow raise money another way through donations or ancillary businesses (like an ag school running a for-fee vet clinic that their students work in), or cut services. And in this economy with so many people out of work or strapped to get their bills paid, donations have dried up, and ancillary services aren’t turning as much of a profit because they have fewer customers. The only thing left is a combination of raising the cost to the student and cutting services, which usually both have to happen and suck for everyone.

  17. 17
    carlie

    we haven’t been hiring swarms of new faculty, but only replacing retiring faculty

    At least you get to do that. Many places see retiring faculty as a nice way to replace a full line with a couple of cheap adjuncts.

  18. 18
    Crow

    The older and more cynical the get the more I start to think that humans just aren’t quite ready to accept a disenchanted garden.

    Currently, intelligent and rational people are the exception, not the rule. I don’t feel like this is going to change any time soon.

    When I consider the fact that people in my small, little midwestern town are actually scared when I tell them I don’t believe in god, it reminds me of just how far the human race needs to go before we can cast off the shackles of superstition and embrace a culture where we make decisions because we have good reasons to do so.

    As it is, my college debt will be a burden for me for most of my life. It costs me more than my mortgage does and may or may not end up helping me secure a better career than I could have got without it.

    That means higher education was a gamble for me that may or may not pay off in the long run. Education being a risky endeavor is not the mark of an enlightened society and my student loans just serve to remind me of that every month.

    Is it too early to start drinking?

  19. 19
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    The answer is easy:

    “I got mine, fuck you.”

  20. 20
    holytape

    I don’t think that conservatives see any value in investing in the future. I got into a debate with a relative about global warming and the fact we’ll eventually run our of fossil fuels. It end with him saying.

    “Why? I’ll be long dead, and Jesus will have pulled the plug by then.”

    Fear and loathing in Damascus

  21. 21
    truthspeaker

    TX_secular says:
    6 December 2011 at 9:12 am

    I’m not sure I follow your arguments. When you say that, “state governments have been jettisoning their responsibilities and not paying for the educational institutions…” are you referring to the increase in the percentage of tuition paid by students vs. taxpayers?

    I thought that was obvious.

    Also, I am missing the point of this comment, “Republicans, the party of irresponsible spendthrifts,” How is this tied to increases in tuition costs in higher education?

    This is answered by the answer to your first question.

  22. 22
    celticwulf

    PZ, I’m not in the education field, but my raises have been in the low single digits since I became a salaried worker after college. The only way I’ve ever gotten a significant raise is by either switching jobs (10k bump in last move) or if for some reason they do a bracket adjustment to make up for what they’re paying new graduates rather than existing employees. So when you mention the low raise that doesn’t really mean much from my perspective…but I will agree wholeheartedly that the money they DO get isn’t going to the right places…too much spent on administration and “sports” rather than actual education.

    Just my thoughts…

  23. 23
    carlie

    California state funding for their colleges has dropped 57% since 1990.

    And don’t forget about inflation: what you could get for $100 in 1990 costs $173 today

  24. 24
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    You can’t rock the boat if it can cost you the job you need to keep paying back that mountainous loan.

  25. 25
    Geral

    My GF and I owe the equivalent of a small house in student loans. Not only do we have to worry about paying off loans we already have, this severely impacts legitimate loans we will need for our future.

    It’s depressing to feel financially handicapped just starting my life.

    But I’m one of the lucky ones.

  26. 26
    Crow

    I interpret it as a strong incentive to avoid upward class mobility, thus maintaining higher levels of blue collar workers who can provide low cost labor, thereby furthering the gains of the 1%.

  27. 27
    Tkltangent

    A lot of the remedial courses at universities are being passed on to underpaid adjunct faculty. This includes part-timers like myself. I teach three courses at a stipend of about 6k total a semester. So that reduces the salary expense even more.

  28. 28
    PZ Myers

    Yes. The point is that college expenditures have not gone up with the same trajectory as that graph (there has been inflation, rising fuel costs, etc., so it has gone up some). We are offering the same education and the same amenities as we did 20 years ago, but students are paying a lot more. And why? Because legislatures have been radically scaling back their support of education.

    And it is partisan. The Republican party has been the core of anti-tax, anti-education activity.

  29. 29
    Drew

    I believe the mindset of both parties re: education is summed up pretty well in this SMBC theatre at about 1:24

  30. 30
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Another example of the false savings of tax cuts. What voter will say no to a tax cut? But then everyone has to pay far more for services such as public universities. Of course, my tax cut does not even come close to covering increased fees, but for the rich, their huge tax cuts more than make up for the increased fees. Hmm. Billed as a tax cut for everyone and the only ones who make out are the rich. Who’d’ve figured?

  31. 31
    unbound

    Keep in mind that conservatives are the mouth-pieces of corporate America at this point. Corporations are famous for only paying attention the upcoming quarter, or the upcoming year at the most. Long-term considerations are not what they worry about (anything beyond 2 or 3 years is considered unknowable in the corporate world)…so we should expect the same of their mouth-pieces (conservatives).

    I use conservatives as opposed to Republicans because there definitely has been a shift over the past couple of decades with the attitudes of the Democratic party. Senator Kent Conrad and former Senator Byron Dorgan were highly conservative Democrats in the early 90s (about the only way a Democrat can get elected in North Dakota)…yet they are considered among the more liberal of the Democrats today (no, their positions have not notably changed in the intervening years). Electing Democrats does not equal electing liberals anymore…in many cases, your Democrat would have been a mild to moderate Republican just a few decades ago.

    Slashing of funds is definitely the primary problem, and it was caused by conservative ideals (of that I have no doubt). Education to a corporation is a class I send someone to for a week (perhaps a month at the outside) while expecting immediate results when the resource gets back. Long-term education doesn’t make sense to corporations (some corporations pay for higher degrees, but very few actually use the resulting degrees…the offer of paying for the higher degree is just another benefit to attract workers).

    The answer is to get corporations out of our government.

  32. 32
    richardelguru

    And it’s not only in the USA. When I went to Uni in the UK around 1970 it was essentially free. Then Reagan’s ‘worse half’ Margaret The-Milk-Snatcher Thatcher started a process that has now increased fees to (IIRC) £9k pa for some of the better ones.
    That means that were I to go to uni next year instead of when I did, the fees would be infinitely higher!!! Anyone beat that?
    (As an aside: back in the 60′s I had a girlfriend who would lecture me on how much kinder, gentler etc. the world would be if ruled by women. While the Milk-Snatcher was a special case, I’ve regretted that I lost touch with that girl before the Thatcher years. I would have finally had a decent come-back.)

  33. 33
    Michael Hawkins

    A much bigger piece of this story is the availability of easy credit. I’ve had no trouble getting plenty of loans, even at times when my credit scores were hardly established (I’m only 26 now). The same is true for millions of students. Of course schools are going to raise tuition if they can. Indeed, with larger student bodies they sometimes need to keep the prices going up since they must expand, maintain more facilities, more staff, etc. Poorer people have more access to higher education now than ever. There is a cost that is associated with that increase. It isn’t all profit.

    Of course, rising tuition also has to do with governments bearing less of the burden, but let’s not pretend like that’s the whole story. The easy credit is more of the issue and that has to do with liberal policies more than conservative ones.

    As to the people who want to blame high salaries for Chancellors and better funding for sports programs, don’t be naive. The high salaries of individuals may be unjust but they hardly say a thing about why tuition is going up. And sports programs tend to bring in money one way or another, depending on the school. That’s why schools have them in the first place.

  34. 34
    reblaw7

    The CSU system is worse than the graph shows. The fees are more than double the tuition in many cases. Also under 15% of students are able to graduate in 4 years time. They have slashed most departments, many classes are just never offered, and in the case of what is offered classes fill up crazily fast and new sections aren’t added even when there are more than enough people waitlisted (or overflowing beyond the waitlist) to fill them.

    I’m going to one of those schools for graduate school. I like all of my teachers, but they don’t offer prereqs for even some of the core courses. And my department seems to be one of the best funded ones. My wife tried to finish her undergraduate there, but she was only able to get into one class, despite e-mailing a ton of professors and showing up to a good number of lectures and being a junior credit wise. She met a girl who chronologically should be a senior, but is a sophomore because of how few classes she could sign up for a semester. A good number of classes aren’t even taught in permanent structure, and things that break, like projectors, go unfixed for weeks.

  35. 35
    carlie

    Of course, rising tuition also has to do with governments bearing less of the burden, but let’s not pretend like that’s the whole story. The easy credit is more of the issue

    I don’t understand this line of reasoning. I’ve been on committees that deal with college budgets and fees and not once has the amount of personal loan credit students can get come into play as a factor.

  36. 36
    spamamander, internet amphibian

    As if I wasn’t terrified enough about the amount of loans my daughter is having to take out to attend the University of Washington at Tacoma. Her goal is medical school (who knows, she’s a freshman and lots of things can change, but she seems pretty determined) so that’s even MORE years of schooling and years of low pay residency. I didn’t go to school myself, a combination of being stupid and marrying young, undiagnosed depression and ADD, and my parents making || this much too much for me to be eligible for most grants. My daughter, like myself, wasn’t in the “right” kind of activities to gain scholarships (she did get $1200 from UW).

    Priorities. Fucked up they are.

  37. 37
    a3kr0n

    The USA needs a big, fat, fucking RESET!

  38. 38
    markr1957

    Haven’t you figured out yet that you can learn all you need to know from the Babble? No need to waste hard-earned cash on higher edukayshun when you can go to church and learn everything you’ll need to ensure Armageddon comes sooner rather than later.

    These religious half-wits are determined to have humankind breed itself into extinction as quickly as it can – preferably before people figure out that the breeding bit is the cause of all the problems the human world has ever known. The pity is that intelligent, critical thinkers realise this and are the least likely to breed huge families, while the unthinking uneductaed unwashed church going masses do as they’re told and have more children than they can support, so the balance shifts towards an ever increasing percentage of idiots in the population of any religious community.

  39. 39
    Crow

    “Resistance is futile.” –The Borg

  40. 40
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    The university I’m working and taking classes at has had a series of rate hikes, adding 10% in tuition alone in the last three years. The non-technology buildings on campus are decaying, many (if not half, at this point) of the first through third year classes on campus are taught by graduate students or adjuncts. Several of our departments are down three or four tenured faculty; I happen to be lucky enough to be in one of the departments which has not lost a handful of tenured faculty, but my previous department was not so lucky.

    Yet we’re paying our football coaches a half-million+ per year. We’ve won three games in three years, and our previous coach has been repeatedly sued for his behavior. We finally got rid of him this semester, and we’re paying the new coach a ridiculous amount of money (millions over the next two years) to come here.

    On campus, it becomes quite difficult for undergraduates to get into core classes; when I started on my previous degree, the department I was in employed 70 instructors, between TAs and adjuncts, to teach core courses involving writing. They’re down to something like 40 now, the last time I talked to someone from the department, and the uni president wants to make the class sizes larger.

    The class I’m teaching for the department I’m currently in started with 50 students; it was standing room only in the class, and people were literally sitting on the floor, and standing and scribbling notes in the back of the room.

    I’m being paid $740 a month for this class; I have three jobs (teacher, editor for the local newspaper/columnist and tutor for a private company.) I’m carrying 11 credit hours.

    The university president has been slowly selling off university property to private developers; our dorms are half private, and the contract he signed allows them to prevent the university from ‘competing’ by building more dorms. He has run the university from a modest surplus to millions of dollars in debt, despite selling university property to condo developers and private corporations.

    The faculty actually demanded to audit his budget a few years back. He refused, then gave them books so hopelessly messed up that it was almost impossible to figure out where the money had gone. And yes, he’s had several federal complaints filed against his administration. He’s currently being investigated by the Justice Department for hiring practices which discriminate against black hires.

    He’s a Conservative Republican, but I bet everyone already knew that from the list of his actions, above.

    Our state is currently Republican run, and she (with the help of our legislature) has done everything in her power to cut education and raise tuition, over the very public protests of students and professors.

    This situation is not uncommon in the current university system. I concur with PZ.

  41. 41
    Midnight Rambler

    At least you get to do that. Many places see retiring faculty as a nice way to replace a full line with a couple of cheap adjuncts.

    At least you get that. In Hawaii they’ve had a hiring freeze for three years (and a 5% salary cut, supposed to be repaid with an increase later but nobody’s holding their breath), not replacing faculty who retire and not hiring enough lecturers, while increasing the enrollment 15%. The result that most of the classes are full and students aren’t able to graduate because they can’t get enough credits.

  42. 42
    shouldbeworking

    The same trend has been going on in Alberta. Tuition goes up, admin costs go up, class sizes go up. Thatcher would have considered a moderate by some of our rightwing loonies. And Reagan would lumped in with the liberals.

  43. 43
    unclefrogy

    our prosperity since the end of WWII was based on many things not the least of which was increasing the education level of the population at all levels. That increase helped to increase the technological innovation that further fed our prosperity coupled with the strength of organized labor helped to increase the purchasing power of the people which is the market place. Government spending which is not just confined to education but also includes infrastructure helps to maintain this process and in fact it is the main facilitator of this process which our prosperity is based on.
    For far too long we have been the victim of the anti-tax anti-government “movement” of short sighted self-centered politics.
    NO NEW TAXES
    fine no taxes
    no government
    no prosperity
    you can depend on only your self
    it is you against the world
    that is where we are headed if we continue to be so short sighted.
    we have been reduced by this politics to a choice is it us “we” as a whole or is it just the individual self made independent alone individual “I made it myself”

    prosperity just like everything else including education costs money
    the old saying “you get what you pay for” is still true

    uncle frogy

  44. 44
    jonjermey

    But how else is California going to pay for their carbon trading plan?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/21/california-commits-business-suicide/

  45. 45
    jakc

    Michael Hawkins. It isn’t liberal credit policies that are the problem. IT’S THE SHIFTING OF COSTS TO STUDENTS. In the 1970′s, you could go to a state school without borrowing money. And, yes, higher costs for administrators & the loses by virtually every college sports program mean higher tuition for students. If you’re 26, the reason you have outrageous loan debts is the desire of YOUR conservative friends to cut taxes for the wealthy. It’s not the fault of liberals. Tuition increases aren’t going to pay for faculty – they go as tax cuts which disproportionately favor the wealthy, with much of the remainder being used for overly salaries of coaches & administrators.

  46. 46
    jakc

    Wonderful news PZ! I thought this was off the thread, but then I realized this is all part of the Republican war on education! It’s not just about tax cuts – you can’t have those kids learning too much (as my sister once observed about her home-schooling neighbor, “she doesn’t want her kids to know more than she does.”)

    According to Rick Santorum, going to college isn’t necessarily a good thing. “President Obama said he wants to make sure that every American goes to college. I understand why he wants every American to go college, right? Because 62 percent of kids who go to college with a faith commitment leave college without it because they are indoctrinations (sic) of the left. That’s what goes on in colleges.”

    He wants trade schools where he says “people can work with their hands and minds” by which he means “hands.”

    Sure, professors are underpaid, but by the FSM, you ungodly professors are winning the war. At this rate, you should be able to declare victory by the time you’re ready to retire. I just wonder – does that 62% include religious colleges – maybe your rate at Minn-Morris is even higher!

  47. 47
    Michael Hawkins

    jakc,

    I think what I like best about your post is the utterly dishonest bait-and-switch between my response to what somebody said about chancellors (or presidents – basically the top dog in the system) and “administrators”. But I’ll let you have your outright lie. It doesn’t matter. The salaries of a few isn’t what raises tuition costs significantly. It’s the same thing we hear when people talk about CEOs. Sure, they’re getting obscene, undeserved sums of money, but that isn’t what raises costs or causes other people to get fired. Just put things in perspective: Look at any given government funding Republicans want to cut. If that funding is small when compared to the entire budget, we’re just looking at politics. That is, if Republicans want to cut a few hundred thousand dollars from some scientific study they think is worthless (and we all know it probably isn’t worthless), they aren’t doing a damn thing to reduce the budget. That just isn’t how the numbers work. The same goes for the one or even few individuals who make a lot of money in a system.

    To your contention that it’s all Republicans, no. You’re simply wrong. I’m not interested in arguing polemics with you – Yes, students must carry a bigger piece of the burden than in the past due to funding cuts, but that isn’t the whole story. As the government guarantees loans, students are able to get money they would have been denied 15 years ago. Universities have no need to cut costs and lower tuition in order to attract students – there is no competition.

    But if it makes you feel better, I believe Bush increased Pell grants and other ways for students to get into college more easily. You can get your facts straight while still blaming Republicans if you really want. (And it seems that is all you want.)

  48. 48
    Pteryxx

    Currently I live close to a medical school. Many of the students live in luxury apartments or condos right next to campus (with new ones being built every few months), and from their cars and electronics, clothing and restaurants, seem to have more disposable income than I’ve ever known. This is in contrast to the campus employees and service staff, who live in cheap apartments a couple of miles away and bus or walk to work every morning past the luxury apartments.

    Apparently med school’s for the upper class, with all its prestige and respect, while everyone else gets to go to the two- and four-year nursing programs being expanded in every community college. That’s a frightening concept, having medical decisionmaking power in the hands of students disproportionately drawn from more privileged echelons than the vast majority of their patients will ever be.

  49. 49
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    The salaries of a few isn’t what raises tuition costs significantly. It’s the same thing we hear when people talk about CEOs. Sure, they’re getting obscene, undeserved sums of money, but that isn’t what raises costs or causes other people to get fired.

    Where is this blissful fantasy world? Can we all live there?

  50. 50
    idonotknow

    As mentioned by richardelguru above, we are seeing much the same in the UK. University tuition fees were first introduced in 1998, this year tuition was generally ~£3k/yr, next year most universities (and certainly all of the best regarded) will be charging £9k/yr. The jump in tuition basically being equal to the discontinued “per student” government funding that used to be given to the universities. So next year instead of giving money to the universities, the government will loan it to the students, and with the way the interest and repayment schemes will work many graduates will carry that debt for 20+ years and end up paying back much more than they were lent (1.5x the loan probably will be common). So, governments pay less, the students pay more, the actual funding to universities is about flat (unless student numbers fall).

  51. 51
    'Tis Himself

    Before and during World War II, there was serious debate in the U.S. about what caused the Great Depression and what was needed to prevent it from recurring. One thing that all sides of the argument agreed upon was that education was a positive benefit in preventing another Depression. At the end of the war the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly pass the GI Bill. A major part of the Bill was educational assistance for veterans. Essentially people of my father’s age could go to college with the government picking up tuition and fees and even paying a stipend for living expenses. Other federal laws helped non-veterans in a similar way.

    As a result, large numbers of American men (and smaller numbers of women) got degrees. In the 1950s and 1960s the American educated middle class grew in both numbers and per capita wealth. Widespread education was seen as a major cause for this affluence. I have no doubt that in a couple of generations historians and economists will point to the ten years or so before and after 1960 as the peak of American prosperity.

    For various reasons, during the late 1960s and afterwards, college education became both denigrated and taken for granted. The denigration was often by people who were college educated themselves. Education became “elitism” and the latent American anti-intellectualism became socially acceptable.

  52. 52
    'Tis Himself

    The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, makes $160,000 per day.

  53. 53
    Air

    The actual percentage increase in tuition at the University of California is infinity percent. Until the mid-60′s (and Ronald Reagan) there was NO tuition at UC. My salary has, sadly, not kept pace.

  54. 54
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Crow:

    I interpret it as a strong incentive to avoid upward class mobility, thus maintaining higher levels of blue collar workers who can provide low cost labor, thereby furthering the gains of the 1%.

    Uh, what labor? “Blue collar” assumes manufacturing and the US doesn’t manufacture shit anymore. And no matter how many American are willing (or forced) to work at low-wage jobs, corporations will always be able to find cheaper labor by exploiting the people of so-called “developing nations”.

    If you’re referring to the service sector, well, you’re shit out of luck with that one, too. You need a strong middle-class to support service jobs.

    I just can’t wrap my head around the absolute short-sightedness of the Republicans/corporations. When nobody has any money, who the hell do they think is going to buy their goods/services? How long do they think they can last if average Americans have no buying power?

  55. 55
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Also, ps, too: There’s no such thing as “upward mobility” in the US and there hasn’t been in a very VERY long time.

  56. 56
    Pteryxx

    Uh, what labor? “Blue collar” assumes manufacturing and the US doesn’t manufacture shit anymore. (…)

    If you’re referring to the service sector, well, you’re shit out of luck with that one, too. You need a strong middle-class to support service jobs.

    Tangent: blue-collar also includes repair, maintenance, and infrastructure (such as building roads or laying cable) which are harder to outsource. However, maintenance and infrastructure also are getting starved (worse roads, weak fiber-optic coverage, etc) and repair’s under attack from planned obsolescence and items cheaper to trash than to fix. Repair’s becoming rather more important now that many folks can’t afford to buy new cars, homes, or appliances.

  57. 57
    hry85

    reblaw7′s wife here. Long time reader, new commenter. I’m going to try to make this as succinct as possible, but I’ll be honest, 2011 was the worst year of my adult life and California public schools are a lot of the reason why.

    Anyway, I thought I’d go into a bit more detail on my experience with the CSU school system. It’s worth noting that my frustrations are exacerbated by being what universities call an adult learner, first generation student, etc, all that crap that public schools like to pat themselves on the back for. I want to get my schooling done, to be frank. I’m in my mid-late 20s, been in school part-time since I was 23 while working, got gay Iowa married in 2009, and other real world whatnot. Long story short, I work hard, get good grades, and hope (well, was hoping) to have my Masters or be in a PhD program by 30 so as to teach at the college level. It’s not a lucrative field, but I’d be able to pay bills and do what I love. Arts education is my passion and my calling.

    Rather than get super-wordy, which will probably happen anyway, I’ll just make a timeline of my experiences:

    Late Summer/Fall 2010-
    reblaw7 and I move from Minneapolis to San Francisco, where she has an opportunity through a temp agency for lab work (her BS is in Biology). Temp agency did not work out, 7 interviews in 2 months but no dice. Finds holiday retail work and applies to, and is accepted into, SF State’s Masters of Computer Science program.

    Meanwhile, I try to transfer my 47 credits to SF State from Minneapolis Community and Technical College (3.6 GPA). Because of CSU and UC budget failures, they only allow junior level transfers. I’m a music ed major and art minor at this time, and am frustrated because in the arts, such a rule usually means at another year in school and redundant credits. However, I suck it up and apply to City College of SF, where I will have to wait until January for classes. I also find holiday retail work.

    Spring 2011-
    I try to start my Spring semester at City College, but as a transfer student without in-state credits am low priority, meaning I don’t get to register until after a lot is full. I am unable to get advising before it’s too late, and my experience so far is that any such endeavor would be migraine-inducing.

    According to SF State’s undergrad admissions office (over the phone, talking to an actual human), they do not do pre-admissions counseling because of the the current budget, so I can’t find out from them either. There is some info online, but their website is pretty pathetic and counter intuitive, and of zero use to out of state transfers who need to sit down with an adviser and figure out what courses cover what requirements.

    Long story short, I do my best but don’t take all the right classes. Also, the math I needed in spring I had to drop because, even those it was the level I tested into based on CSU’s standardized math test, the professor taught it to be a more advanced course for pre-engineers. It was frankly beyond my skill set and I dropped it for my mental well-being as well as my other classes and voice audition prep. Naturally, all the easier math levels were full and unavailable to me. Since I’m a MN resident to them, that is ~800 down the drain.

    Spring is mostly a waste of time but by Gawd and Golly, I’ll have those arbitrary 60 credits. Booyah!

    Late Spring/Summer 2011-

    Remember that part about there being no pre-admissions counseling at SF State? Yeah, that was apparently a lie and it’s my fault for not knowing that most of the staff are idiots.

    I am denied admission because they don’t like the English courses I took at Minneapolis Commmunity College, English being vastly different Up Nort and all. I am in phone and email tag for over a month disputing this, and the Benevolent and Not At All Patronizing folks of SF State take pity on this lowly student and “help” her through offering conditional admission, the condition being that I take math and writing courses through City College in the summer.

    Also around this time, I find out that the music department was cut in half, and that I would thus not be able to take music courses in Fall 2011. I’m pretty heart-broken, but after licking my wounds realize my art BA and teaching cert are the fastest way out of this circle of hell, and I accept that.

    Oh, and my English class was with this guy: http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=72153 Yeah, he earned that rating. Fucker shows up a half hour late regularly and loses students essays, then claims said students never turned them in. Also refuses to work with email, and no office hours. Gave me a C because of work he lost, and, I suspect, not being the correct kind of gay person. I was too emotionally tired at the time to fight it.

    Fall 2011-

    Even though I’m not able to be a music major due to the significant budget cuts, SF State still has me classified as one. This means that I am unable to register for any art classes through them.

    I meet with the art department chair, and while I give her credit for being the only sympathetic human being at that madhouse, her department is also on the chopping block and her hands are tied. I am instructed to show up to classes and hope for the best. Well, everyone else is doing the same thing, so this obviously does not work.

    One art history class was added last minute, and I did get into that. However, this would not be enough to to an actual art major by Spring 2012, I needed two other courses. They were neither available through SF State or City College. Realistically speaking, I would not graduate from there until December 2013 at the very earliest. Working fast food into my 30s and/or being a bored housewife does not appeal to me.

    ~Conclusion~

    In mid-September, after I had accrued ~$2500 in tuition and fees for a single 3 credit fall class (no aid under 6 credits), a family related tragedy happened that pushed me over the deep end. It was too late to drop the art class financially speaking, so I’ve been in one class and mostly unemployed and depressed for the last few months.

    reblaw7 and I decided a bit over a month ago to move back to Minneapolis, where I will finish my schooling in an environment less psychotic at the U of MN. I don’t really care how much they charge at this point, I just want this to be done. I would wish California State schools on anyone, and certainly don’t want a diploma from one.

    P.S.
    reblaw7 has had to fight her advisers tooth and nail to graduate in a timely fashion, because state schools profit more if you take longer to graduate. She thankfully has a good internship, since we’ll be living in two different states late January through early May.

    P.S.S.
    SF is fucking gross. Like, 3rd world gross. There’s human feces and piss everywhere. Northern California is largely millionaires and homeless people. Out of SF’s 800K residents, between 40-60K are homeless. Thank you President Reagan, for destroying the safety nets for the mentally ill in this country. And I say this having lived in New York before and really liking it there.

    P.S.S.
    Sorry this is super long and probably confusing at points.

  58. 58
    jakc

    Well Michael Hawkins, let’s start with the pleasantries. You called me a liar (and don’t try to quibble your way out). I was tempted to do the same, but on reflection, decided not to do so. After all, at best, your posts are wrong and ill-informed. Whether that’s due to dishonesty on your part is irrelevant: honest bullshit is still bullshit. For example, you want to limit administrator to only the college president. Fine. At my old state school, the cuurent president makes about $300,000 more than the president made 20 years ago – that’s an $8 to $10 increase per student for one administrator. Now I didn’t call that increase “significant” (your words); I just said it was real. As PZ and many others have pointed out on this thread, aggregate faculty compensation at many schools has declined or been flat. It hasn’t kept up with tuition increases. So where does the money go besides school presidents? At most schools, some of it goes to support sports programs. And, a great deal of the money goes to support tax cuts – state legislatures, and in many states, local governments (in regards to community colleges) have drastically cut their support for higher education. Cutting taxes has been the Republican priority at the local, state & national level for many years. Higher tuition is the direct result. You don’t get to advocate tax cuts and not be responsible for the results.
    As for your blather about the availibility of school loans. Jaysus, Mary & Joseph! you’re confusing cause and effect. It was not a difficult thing for someone to go to college in 1975 without loans. Now, colleges make many stupid spending decisions (see presidents & coaches) but they are also forced to pass tuition costs onto students. Higher tuition drives the need for loans; the availibility of loans is a response not a cause. How do we know this? Well, according to you, the money isn’t going to administrators, and the increases aren’t going to faculty, so where’s the money going? If its going to the schools, we ought to be able to see it at the schools (Hint: it’s not going to the schools)

  59. 59
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    I can’t speak for the US (I have some insight into your education system, but not enough to comment). However, richardelguru:

    When I went to Uni in the UK around 1970 it was essentially free. Then Reagan’s ‘worse half’ Margaret The-Milk-Snatcher Thatcher started a process that has now increased fees to (IIRC) £9k pa for some of the better ones.
    That means that were I to go to uni next year instead of when I did, the fees would be infinitely higher!!! Anyone beat that?

    I can’t beat that, although I did go to university in the 80s on free tuition and a means-tested living-costs grant. I’m not sure if that counts as “essentially free”. *Someone* was paying for it (not my basically-poor parents).

    Since then, however, the “elitist” institution of (my) university education has been expanded to two or three times as many post-18 students. Hence charges. (FWIW, your “some of” is woefully wrong; it’s “most of”.)

    I can, however, say that UK student loans (unlike the USA) are essentially a form of deferred tax liability. You study, you earn, you pay tax, you pay back the loan. You don’t earn enough to pay tax? Then you don’t pay back the loan and it eventually gets written off.

    (In the US, I know that this is not the case. You guys have to fix your own system. Sorry.)

  60. 60
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    ($6,500/year in 2007. Who wouldn’t pay that for UCLA or Berkeley?)

    Poor people.

    Yes, they do actually exist.

  61. 61
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Pteryxx:

    Repair’s becoming rather more important now that many folks can’t afford to buy new cars, homes, or appliances.

    Yeah, but compared to the heyday of American manufacturing, that’s a drop in the bucket. It would be great if skilled labor could pick up some of the unemployment slack, but as you said, those types of jobs are being starved.

    Working in the auto repair industry (ooo, I made it sound almost classy!) I can tell you that I’ve seen an alarming number of repair shops close in the past couple of years. I have no idea why– it’s not like there’s drastically fewer cars on the road now– but it’s definitely an industry that’s struggling along with everyone else.

  62. 62
    ibyea

    Another thing that sucks: out of state tuition. It pretty much triples the tuition rate. It would have been so much easier if I had in state. But no, my visa is expired, the green card application was withdrawn by an incompetent lawyer, and now I will have to take a semester off because I need to get rid of an $11,000 bill. Not only that, my FAFSA is rejected because of my status and they won’t give me aid based scholarship. I hope that my parent’s business take off next summer and the green card application goes in.

  63. 63
    Pteryxx

    to Dr. Audley re car shops: I’d bet that independent repair shops are closing more than dealership-associated ones; also that people generally are forgoing routine maintenance and any repairs that aren’t critical. I wonder how auto supply stores are doing? Maybe more folks are doing their own auto work or having it done informally by friends and neighbors.

    …and slightly more on-topic, it looks like tech colleges are increasing tuition also. That’s WITH strong ties to industry and a less affluent student population, and turning out mostly blue-collar workers.

  64. 64
    Jafafa Hots

    See – by stopping my formal education at 8th grade, I’ve outwitted you all!

    By remaining uneducated I managed to avoid serious debt.
    Well, not really. But I managed to avoid income, which means the serious debts are uncollectible.

    Living in abject poverty is the only way to beat this system!

  65. 65
    passerby

    My girlfriend is going through the Univ. of Alabama for her art degree, and she sees people on a daily basis that would probably fail an IQ test for a McDonald’s application getting scholarships and free rides because they run into other men on a regular basis. And let’s not get started on the coaches.

    It’s sad to see our country reducing its houses of education to sports clubs catering to a group of man children, out of whom 1% will go on to a professional career. While that is going on, people getting actual degrees in the arts and sciences have to continue to make due.

  66. 66
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Pteryxx,
    You can’t really compair a dealership’s repair shop with an independant– unless the entire dealership goes under, the repair facility’s not going to close. In other words, the repair service could be hemorrhaging money and you have no way of knowing if the dealership itself is still in business.

    That being said, we have seen dealerships close. Some were closed during GM’s restructuring and others just haven’t been able to survive in this economic climate.

    I can’t speak to auto-supply stores ‘cos I rarely deal with them.

  67. 67
    Michael Hawkins

    @Illuminata #49,

    It’s a drop in the bucket. You’re being fooled when you see people go on and on about big CEO salaries. They hardly matter at all.

    @Tis Himself,

    The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, makes $160,000 per day.

    With stock options, he makes $59 million a year. Apple taxes in $26 billion in pure profit. I don’t see the problem.

    @58 jakc,

    Well Michael Hawkins, let’s start with the pleasantries. You called me a liar (and don’t try to quibble your way out).

    I won’t. You lied. Liar. Don’t play bait-and-switch games like a liar.

    As PZ and many others have pointed out on this thread, aggregate faculty compensation at many schools has declined or been flat. It hasn’t kept up with tuition increases.

    Good, good. You’re saying true things.

    So where does the money go besides school presidents? At most schools, some of it goes to support sports programs.

    Sometimes. And that yields profits at many schools. At other schools, they pour money into their programs so they can compete at more difficult divisions, raising their profile. And what do they get out of that? More donations, more merchandise sales, and more students who are only able to afford college because of the – gasp! – easy availability of credit.

    And, a great deal of the money goes to support tax cuts – state legislatures, and in many states, local governments (in regards to community colleges) have drastically cut their support for higher education. Cutting taxes has been the Republican priority at the local, state & national level for many years. Higher tuition is the direct result.

    As much as I enjoy blaming Republicans, they aren’t the whole story. Take California. The people there vote for more school funding but then refuse to allow their taxes to be raised. It is literally the worst run state in the nation, fiscally speaking. And that isn’t due to just Republicans. Moreover, increased tuition as a result of the state subsidizing it less is still just part of the story. Make credit as difficult to get as it was 15 years ago and tuition will decrease.

    Higher tuition drives the need for loans; the availibility of loans is a response not a cause.

    This is wildly laughable. Wildly. Loans have been insured by the federal government more and more. Private businesses would never give out the sort of loans they do if they didn’t have reason to believe they would get the money back. Since a lot of poor people, even with college educations, will default on their loans, private businesses have taken advantage of the government’s guarantees. Which is exactly what the aim of the government, for better or worse.

  68. 68
    chigau (違う)

    Jafafa Hots

    Living in abject poverty is the only way to beat this system!

    That’s so funny, I could cry.
    or
    That’s so sad, I could laugh.
    .
    I can’t decide.

  69. 69
    Daniel McCoy

    In California, the infamous Proposition 13 started us on this slippery slope back in the late 1970′s.
    Cuts to property taxes were sold to the voters as protecting grannies from losing their homes. All those grannies are now long dead, but the lowered property taxes are grandfathered in for corporations which have owned large amounts of property for decades, such as Chevron and Disney. The corporations never die, so the lowered rates are grandfathered in forever (or until repeal of prop 13). The corporation owning the property can even change hands without triggering a property tax reset on the property owned by the corporation the way it resets when regular folks sell a house.

    PZ’s right. We’ve been coasting on a lot of infrastructure built up when there were much higher top-level tax brackets. The interstate highway system being a perfect example, we couldn’t build it now. The conservatives have managed to take most of the money off of the table and then they tell us we’re broke and have to make cuts. There’s plenty of money. It’s just been moved elsewhere in the economy where it doesn’t benefit everybody, just a select few.

    Many of the “taxes” people pay now are to banks rather than the government. Interest on mortgages, credit cards, student loans, as well as fees and such, all siphoning money out of the real economy into the financial sector. The beloved mortgage interest deduction is not a subsidy of “home ownership”, it is a subsidy of home indebtedness and thereby a subsidy of the banks. The housing price long ago inflated to accomodate what the market will bear considering the mortgage interest deduction, so you just pay more for the house, pay more interest, and you pay more to the bank, less to the government. Just one of myriad ways money is siphoned off to the financial sector before it gets to the government.

  70. 70
    bromion

    First of all, the USA is still the top manufacturing country in the world. It’s a fact, one that goes overlooked every time some idiot says “we don’t make things anymore!” We do. Look it up.

    That said, America has squarely placed education very low on its list of priorities. While nearly every other country in the world that is developed or aspiring honors teachers and stresses education, the USA seems to think that prosperity is our birthright and therefore requires no investment. This is especially true of the Baby Boomer generation, whose motto seems to be: “I’m gonna die someday so fuck it.” Educational divestment is just one manifestation of the generalized profit-taking that has sucked the future dry.

    Good luck to us.

  71. 71
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Bromion:
    You’re using the wrong metric. I’m at work, so this info comes from a quick Googling (so feel free to quibble with my numbers) and I found that in 1965, manufacturing made up 65% of the economy, in 2004 it was 9%.

    But all of those rust belt cities should be happy that we’re still the top of the heap, right?

    http://www.thetrumpet.com/?page=article&id=1955

  72. 72
    David Marjanović

    When I consider the fact that people in my small, little midwestern town are actually scared when I tell them I don’t believe in god, it reminds me of just how far the human race needs to go before we can cast off the shackles of superstition and embrace a culture where we make decisions because we have good reasons to do so.

    That’s not “the human race”, it’s your small little midwestern town.

    Over here, the very concept of college debt would be considered offensive. Studying at a university was free from 1975 to 2001 and is now mostly free again, and in the meantime the fees for EU citizens were 363,36 € per semester (twice that for non-EU foreigners). 1 € is 1.33679 US$ right now and has varied between 0.82 and 1.45 or so US$ since the € was introduced in 1999.

    I’m 29, I have a doctorate, I come from a family with 4 children where one parent is a sort-of-highschool teacher and the other has been mostly unemployed, and I’ve never taken up a loan in my life.

    The USA needs a big, fat, fucking RESET!

    Well… yeah.

    The class I’m teaching for the department I’m currently in started with 50 students; it was standing room only in the class, and people were literally sitting on the floor, and standing and scribbling notes in the back of the room.

    Oh, that’s normal.

    Out of SF’s 800K residents, between 40-60K are homeless.

    *blink*

    what

  73. 73
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    @David Marjanović: Well, yes and no. The class is non-essential, and only supposed to have 30 people in it, but the college I’m teaching/learning at has been unable to offer much variety. I mentioned it because $740/50 students means I’m being paid $14.80 a month, per student, and as a result cannot afford to spend a lot of time on their needs.

    I do exactly as much as I have to, and little more; since I’m also a newspaper editor, columnist and tutor for another company, as well as a student, it’s difficult for me to spend extensive time helping students with the ridiculous number of problems they are having with things like paper-writing. I hold office hours, and look at a few drafts, but I don’t have much time to meet with them outside the 2 hours of mandatory office hours I have to hold.

  74. 74
    carlie

    Michael – you’re totally wrong with regard to college tuition and loans; I’d like to know on what basis you claim that connection, if it’s anything other than what came out of your butt.

    If colleges set tuition at whatever the hell they wanted to because students can get loans, you wouldn’t see the severe cutbacks in services that colleges have had over the last several years. They’d just raise tuition to the point that they could provide everything they want to, right? And yet, that’s not what’s happening. Yes, tuition is rising, but at the same time the colleges are cutting back on their overall budgets and cutting back on their services. This is because they are trying to make up for what’s been taken away in state funding and still be able to function. If you look at overall college budgets, they’ve risen either directly with inflation or dragged behind inflation. I know my college’s overall total budget is 19% lower than it was ten years ago. We literally spend less money overall than we did ten years ago, and that’s not inflation-adjusted, meaning that in equivalent dollars we spend much more less than what the straight comparison shows. And yet, tuition is higher, simply because the state has cut its allocation by over 20% in the same time period (again in static dollars, not inflation-adjusted ones).
    If we just raised tuition “because students can get loans”, we would have raised it enough to make up that gap and at least keep the overall budget the same, not have cut it. You really have no idea what you’re talking about.

  75. 75
    Crow

    David Marjanović @72

    I understand your point that my little corner of the world is not necessarily indicative of conditions in the rest of the world.

    But certainly you’re not implying that rural towns in the US are the last bastion of religious dominated culture and that the rest of the world is doing just fine in terms of superstitious beliefs playing a negative role in society.

    I’m happy that there are places where atheism is much more widely accepted than here, but religion still does enough harm in the world for me to think that this is a global problem, and not a regional one.

  76. 76
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Ha! I just realized that the website I linked to was for the Philly Church of God. Thanks, Goog. :-/

  77. 77
    David Marjanović

    religion still does enough harm in the world for me to think that this is a global problem, and not a regional one

    My point is just that there are regions where it’s not much of a problem and where, consequently, education isn’t considered evil. The US should and could learn from those.

  78. 78
    Michael Hawkins

    @Carlie #74,

    Why do you think colleges are somehow different from any other market? Why would a college put out a competitive tuition when it has a guarantee of cash from the government? Give this a moment’s thought: If Apple, Inc could charge $1000 for an iPhone, they would. But, of course, they don’t because that would price too many people out of the market. But if someone came by and made it easy for people to purchase the phones through subsidy, sales would continue and Apple wouldn’t do anything to lower its prices. The only difference between that scenario and higher education is that people view higher education as much more worthwhile than an iPhone.

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2008/04/23/the_economics_of_college_part_iii/page/full/

    Moreover, if you bothered to think about this at all, you would realize that private universities are going up in great leaps and bounds just like public universities. That blows a big hole in your hypothesis. That is, schools which rely on little to no direct government funding are still charging more. The common thread? They benefit from students with easy loan access just as much as public schools.

  79. 79
    FlickingYourSwitch

    Education is one of the most important investments a society can make. Government funding of it is not a bad idea.

    Where I live, tuition fees are the same as 20 years ago; zero.

  80. 80
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Okay, older thread, but I want to point something out for those not familiar with the technical lingo of economics:

    Carlie – you said:
    “those are static dollars, not inflation adjusted ones”

    In fact, static dollars, constant dollars and inflation-adjusted dollars are **synonyms**.

    Is it possible that those are inflation adjusted dollars, or did you describe floating dollars/ incorrectly? I ask, because it is sometimes important to know the difference between constant dollars and floating dollars.

    ……………..

    Post-script: (Chained dollars are so intimately related as to be seen as a synonym to constant dollars by non-economists, but actually mean something else – kind of like comparing Newtonian gravity and Einsteinian gravity, ain’t no one going to notice the difference except an expert, but if you need to know the difference, “chained dollars” refers to a set of constant dollars. You can’t have a single chained dollar value. That would be a constant-dollar value. Once you have 2 constant dollars in the same comparison set, you have chained dollars…the chaining exists in the connection between different dollars, One dollar cannot be chained to itself.

    However, and this is where it gets interesting, a “constant dollar” doesn’t make sense without knowing that dollars are changing. In other words, a constant dollar itself doesn’t mean anything without other dollars to compare it with. However, those other dollars might not be other **constant** dollars, they could be nominal dollars or present dollars (which appear to be fixed in time, but aren’t because what constitutes “present” is always changing). Thus, if this helps, constant dollars and chained dollars are like mathematical matrices in which the elements permitted in the matrices are identical, but “chained dollars” are always a matrix of *one* element, whereas chained dollars are defined as a matrix of at least 2 elements. Okay, that was long ass,particularly considering you didn’t use the term chained dollars, but somehow I felt that with confusion over dollars cropping up it was important to head off potential future confusion as well. Probably overkill. Wouldn’t be the first time for me.

    How do you think I got introduced to Death and her Handmaiden in the first place?)

  81. 81
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    duh. that slash after floating dollars was meant to continue to present and nominal ones. Which should have been obvious later, but, here I am, overkilling again.

    Hi, Death! Tea over the weekend?

  82. 82
    carlie

    Constant, I guess? I just mean that both say “x dollars” without regard to what a dollar can buy. So like saying it cost $1 in 1900 and $10 today is an increase of $9, regardless of the buying power differential then and now.

    Michael – you haven’t provided a single bit of evidence to back that up. I’ve worked on college budgets. The amount of loans students can get never figured into it.

  83. 83
    Ichthyic

    The easy credit is more of the issue and that has to do with liberal policies more than conservative ones.

    nice try, but no.

    not only is the credit NOT the issue with regards to higher education being more expensive, but it’s also NOTHING to do with liberal OR republican politics, for that matter.

    …unless you want to revisit the issue of the deregulation of the financial industry that happened under Reagan.

    as usual, Hawkins knows fuckall what he’s talking about, but he does his best to sound intelligent.

  84. 84
    Ichthyic

    In California, the infamous Proposition 13 started us on this slippery slope back in the late 1970′s.

    THERE is someone who understands what this history behind state funding and education in CA is about.

    Hawkins knows shit about what’s going on in CA.\

    easy access to credit…

    ROFLMAO

    idiot.

  85. 85
    Michael Hawkins

    @82 Carlie,

    You’re free to look into the issue. Of course, you’re also free to argue from your own authority. I’m not much of a fan of logical fallacies, though.

    @83 Ich,

    not only is the credit NOT the issue with regards to higher education being more expensive, but it’s also NOTHING to do with liberal OR republican politics, for that matter.

    …unless you want to revisit the issue of the deregulation of the financial industry that happened under Reagan.

    What are you blathering about? Deregulation has nothing to do with the easy availability of credit. If anything, deregulation will make credit harder to obtain because no one is going to give out shitty loans in the first place if they aren’t compelled to do so by the government. But that has to do with home loans, not education loans. With the latter, what we have are loans backed by the government. That doesn’t compel private companies to give out loans, but it does give them great incentive.

    THERE is someone who understands what this history behind state funding and education in CA is about.

    Hawkins knows shit about what’s going on in CA.\

    You’re dumb. Just plain dumb. I referenced the exact same thing here – http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/12/06/strangely-my-salary-has-not-been-following-the-same-trajectory/comment-page-1/#comment-209816. The difference is that I was pointing out that it was the voters of California, not the Republicans, who were to blame. I’m sorry I’m not more interested in your polemic circle jerk.

  86. 86
    Michael Hawkins

    @Carlie again,

    Please do not avoid the big issue again: Private tuition rates have gone up significantly in the past decade or so. Since they do not rely on public funding, how do you explain the increase? You have some leeway since public rates have increased more than private rates (and tax subsidies do have a big role there), but you’re left waving in the wind for the rest of the increases.

  87. 87
    carlie

    Private colleges are under a different competition model. Schools like Harvard and Princeton are in part getting their cachet from their tuition to start with, courting the people who believe “you get what you pay for” – if they fall behind their peers in tuition rates, people start to believe that they are falling behind in quality as well. That harms both recruitment and alumni donations. The tuition at private colleges is more of a “sticker price” set up for those reasons, and only the people wealthy enough not to care about it pay. Everyone else gets a discounted rate that is discounted through scholarships provided by the school itself, meaning they’re plowing their own money back into student aid, not cackling and collecting money from loans students get from elsewhere. Look, there’s even data on that! The average student at a private college pays half of the stated cost.

    Notice that private colleges aren’t swimming in money, either:

    “These increases in discount rates, however, have come at a high price for many private colleges,” the survey’s authors wrote, noting that institutions “had to implement salary freezes, hiring freezes, staff reductions, and other cost-cutting measures in order to increase their spending on institutional grants.”

    Net tuition revenue fell 2 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the survey, as discount rates outpaced total gross tuition and fee increases.

    So, privates have been raising tuition for a few reasons: their students need more aid, on average, than they have before (because of the economy suckage and all), which means in part that they raise the “full” price to get more from those who can pay go redistribute to aid for the others, and also as a talking point to raise more money from donors; to stay competitive with their peers; because costs of everything have gone up.

  88. 88
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Michael Hawkins:
    The annual increase in tuition at private schools has been less than half that of public institutions.

    Over the decade from 2001-02 to 2011-12, published tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities increased at an average rate of 5.6% per year beyond the rate of general inflation. This rate of increase compares to 4.5% per year in the 1980s and 3.2% per year in the 1990s.
    • Over the decade from 2001-02 to 2011-12, published in-state tuition and fees at public two-year colleges increased at an average rate of 3.8% per year beyond the rate of general inflation. This rate of increase compares to 6.1% per year in the 1980s and 0.5% per year in the 1990s.
    • Over the decade from 2001-02 to 2011-12, published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year institutions increased at an average rate of 2.6% per year beyond inflation. This rate of increase compares to 4.8% per year in the 1980s and 3.1% per year in the 1990s.

  89. 89
    Michael Hawkins

    @Carlie,

    The competition amongst the few truly elite schools is irrelevant. Private schools have gone from relying upon federal money to account for 48% of their funding – whether it be through the loans just about anybody can get these days or through other means – to relying upon government money to supply them with 75% of their funding. The period for that change? About 10 years.

    If you asked me about the increase in tuition a few months ago, I would be squarely in your camp. Unfortunately, the facts just aren’t there. Sure, federal subsidies have decreased dramatically and that has a big impact. But it isn’t the whole story. Schools don’t need to compete so heavily with each other (except in the top echelon) when anybody and everybody can “afford” to attend.

    Think about it: The average student is around $25K in debt when graduating. That’s the price of a pretty decent, brand new car. Do you think people making anywhere from $0-20,000 a year would be able to get a private car loan for that amount? Without a co-signer it just won’t happen. Unless the government starts guaranteeing the loans, or offering its own loans to everyone with little to no regard for credit and income, that is.

    http://nakedlaw.avvo.com/2010/06/8-reasons-college-tuition-is-the-next-bubble-to-burst/

    @Antiochus,

    Your numbers are gamed. You’re using nonprofit private schools, not all private schools. There is still a gap that remains, but it is not explained away by less government funding. There is no need to compete, and no need to find creative ways to cut costs, when everyone can just keep paying more and more.

    (Besides that, the numbers I’m seeing list public vs nonprofit private as comparable from ’93-04 – in fact, nonprofit rose more slowly. Of course, credit wasn’t as easy then. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_tuition_in_United_States#Recent_trends)

  90. 90
    PZ Myers

    The privates charge what they can get away with. There is no market advantage for them to pursue the low end.

    Also, no matter how well funded an institution is, there will always be pressure to want more. Look at Grinnell College: superficially, it’s in the same boat my university, UMM, is. Both are small liberal arts colleges, both have similar numbers of students. But Grinnell has a billion dollar endowment. We have next to nothing, because we were founded as a state institution. It means we have no cushion, but they do.

    But Grinnell doesn’t sit back and say they can give away attendance for free. No, they keep their tuition HIGH, very high, and live fat off their legacy enrollments while also giving good scholarships to encourage a new generation of successful alumni. Despite being filthy rich (or because they are filthy rich), they aren’t going to let their endowment erode — they want it to grow.

    A college education is not a commodity. It doesn’t work like selling widgets. A college like Grinnell or UMM cannot expand their income by, for instance, simply letting in more students. We aim to set a fixed capacity based on our facilities and faculty size, and try to keep it filled to that capacity. Bringing in more students than we’re equipped to handle has direct and immediate deleterious effects on the quality of the education offered.

    You simply cannot compare them. You also cannot apply the principles of capitalism to the education system, or we end up with the heinous state of affairs we have now, caused by the capitalism fetishists in the Republican party.

    Our states have public institutions of higher education for a specific reason: to enable middle and lower class families to benefit from a university education. The erosion of support to keep tuition affordable for all means that places like the University of Minnesota are finding their tuition increasingly comparable to places like St Olaf or Augsburg or St Kates, private colleges with high tuition that were never intended to service the general public. Gradually, we’re finding ourselves all in the business of competing for students, and we’re all trying to nab the wealthy upper class students, and screw the poor and middle class.

    And if you don’t see what’s wrong with that, then fuck you too.

  91. 91
    Michael Hawkins

    @PZ

    The privates charge what they can get away with. There is no market advantage for them to pursue the low end.

    And why do you think they can get away with high prices? It isn’t only the wealthy who go to these schools, not by a long shot. People are able to “afford” to attend these institutions because it isn’t that difficult to get credit any longer.

    You simply cannot compare them. You also cannot apply the principles of capitalism to the education system, or we end up with the heinous state of affairs we have now, caused by the capitalism fetishists in the Republican party.

    Competition is competition. Schools have a product to sell just like anyone else. Of course, that product is more highly desired and viewed (rightly) as having a higher end-value (in part because well educated people do make more money, but also because it can’t be known just how far a degree will get someone), but it is still a product. Think about your post on the wildly inflated profit margins on iPads, PZ. Apple made some crazy amount like ~$264. Why? Because people are willing to pay. The same goes for college. People will pay. And now more and more are ‘able’ to pay because they can get loans so easily.

    Gradually, we’re finding ourselves all in the business of competing for students, and we’re all trying to nab the wealthy upper class students, and screw the poor and middle class.

    More poorer students than ever are attending college. The reason, once again, is easy credit. Look at it purely from the school’s perspective: “Okay, here is the going rate for tuition. And here is a large pool of people willing to pay for it. And, hey, they are able to pay for it.” Obviously the reality is massive debt that students won’t actually be able to pay off (though the Obama administration did just make it a little easier, thankfully), but that is irrelevant from the school’s perspective. If you think otherwise, you may as well start claiming that Best Buy gives two-shits when someone uses a credit card to purchase a $2000 TV they can’t really afford.

    And if you don’t see what’s wrong with that, then fuck you too.

    There has been a shift in how higher education gets its funding. Instead of the state directly subsidizing costs, thus keeping tuition down and preventing massive student debt, it has made it so there is significantly less funding. But in order to offset that fact, it has made credit easily available. The result is that instead of the costs of higher education being spread across the taxpayer board, the people actually going to school are being forced to pay. And since college students don’t tend to be the sort of people who get loans easily, the government has told private companies it will back what they give out. (And, more recently, these private company middle-men have been taken out of the equation – thankfully. But the federal government still gives out easy loans.)

    I agree things ought to go back to how they were decades ago. But if we want to that it will take at least two approaches: get the government to shoulder more of the burden (maybe we could not pay a trillion of so dollars for our bloated defense budget) whilst also making credit more difficult to get (and find other, better ways to get poor people into college).

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