Comments on: Don’t cry for Stanford undergrads A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: docdages Tue, 07 Jan 2014 00:59:19 +0000 If I may question one comment Felix stated in his above article… “There is no parental contribution at all for parents earning $60,000 per year or less; parents earning $100,000 a year or less aren’t expected to cover any tuition. Federal and state grants, as well as needs-based scholarships, should cover all of that.”

I realize that it has been some time since I have been out of college (graduated in 2008) however I had to prove to the federal government that I was not receiving any support from my parents to exclude their income. My parents together made $85,000.00 which is well with in the limits of what Felix stated. My problem was for some time I was forced to use their income as mine because they were supporting me for a semester. Due to their income bracket I was not offered any Federal or state grants. I was however offered federal financial aid which I could borrow the money and pay back with interest.

So when I finally was able to use my own income $25,000 – $30,000 a year I thought fantastic I may get some more additional help. However again I was denied any Federal or State grants but was still offered the federal loans. I am not sure where Felix is getting his information because in my experience of working my way through 10 years of college I have to pay back the 42,000 K in student loans I took out and if my parents would have paid for it then they also would have also paid every penny and then some.

My issue is that regardless of what school you attend…look at the types of jobs are these kids able to get? For the majority of the college age kids they are looking at jobs that are paying 35,000 K – 55,000 K a year. This is excluding any computer programing position where they usually make 65,000 K – 75,000 K starting. For me when I graduated from college I was making 15,000 K more then what any company would offer me in my field. I was not going to take a pay cut just to work in the field of my studies. The average income in the united states is around 60,000 K and with the average student loan debts in the united states totaling around 40,000 K that is a 66% debt to income ratio!!! I mean the housing market only allows a max of %52 percent debt to income ratio to purchase an house. However no one is regulating the schools and how much they can charge. This my friends I believe is the problem. By no means I am asking for the government to start regulating the universities however why not have them (the universities) use some of their “sports income” to assist with paying for other parts of the university other then sports. This may not solve all of the universities problems however the ones that have VERY large sports programs it would help a great deal.

By: Chad_Christian Wed, 06 Jun 2012 15:47:09 +0000 BrPH-

Your argument is without merit.

While University of Phoenix’s degree completion rate is assessed by the federal government’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), as is every other accredited educational institution, the system does a poor job of capturing the nation’s next generation learners, who comprise the majority of the University’s student body. IPEDS counts only those students who complete their entire degree program exclusively at one institution – without transferring any credit from another institution – and graduate within 150 percent of the normal completion time. Generally speaking, these conditions exclude most students who do not go directly from high school to college as well as those who work full time. According to the American Federation of Teachers, “students still enrolled after 150 percent of expected graduation time represent a growing trend in higher education.” As such, the number of students who qualify for inclusion in IPEDS decreases each year, particularly in the current economy, where more students cannot afford to continue their educations uninterrupted. University of Phoenix’s completion rates for associate degrees is 26 percent for those students graduating in three years and 31 percent for students who take more than three years to complete. For bachelor’s degrees, the University’s completion rate is 36 percent for those students who graduate in six years and 39 percent for students who take more than six years to complete. At the graduate level, University of Phoenix’s completion rate is 55 percent for students who graduate in three years and 63 percent for students who require more than 3 years to complete.

Moreover our students consistently let us know how satisfied they are. While this is not an academic measure, it provides insight into how best holistically to meet the needs of this new majority population. University of Phoenix student satisfaction surveys over the last year showed that students rate all categories well above average, ranging from 91-96 percent satisfied. The University also uses an external measure of student satisfaction, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). In each of the ten relevant categories polled, students rate the support and instruction at University of Phoenix higher than the national average response rating, with the highest rating going for institutional contribution to their knowledge in the area of “thinking critically and analytically.”

I would also encourage you to see our point of view in the attached link: x-Graduation-Rates/131559/

I am available to discuss these issues with you at your convenience.

Chad Christian, Director, Public Affairs
University of Phoenix
Phone (206) 554-1220 | email:

By: Dilettante Tue, 05 Jun 2012 19:34:00 +0000 I think the problem is that Felix is UK educated & the US system is a bit confusing. “Financial aid package” includes student loans – he’s assuming it’s only grants and scholarships. So yes, Stanford students can take on sizable debt – that’s part of that financial aid package! Further debt comes from private loans & parent loans. Also, “parents earning the median US income are expected to pay zero towards tuition” – true, but 1) that leaves room and board, and 2) they may not be *expected* to cover tuition, but if they can’t or won’t, the difference is made up by loans.

And there’s a nasty issue lurking in the assumption that Stanford kids can handle loans because they’ll get high-paying jobs. The social concern is that it’s increasingly necessary to take Wall Street-type positions after graduation. That sucks. Sending larger amounts of our best & brightest to finance jobs is a real problem. Those jobs aren’t really creating much value & we could really use those people in more productive sectors – whether it be technology, teaching, public service, etc. As things stand, it’s much easier to pursue those careers if you 1) are male, unmarried, no-children, and/or 2) come from money and don’t have student debt. Can you pursue journalism if you have high debt and can’t afford lengthy unpaid internships? Can you hell.

So yes, this is a really unpleasant problem.

By: BrPH Tue, 05 Jun 2012 17:52:31 +0000 “…you will find it much more at the University of Phoenix..”

No kidding. You, and everyone else in the financial press should do exposes on UofPhoenix until that its principals are in prison for systematically defrauding the federal government.

OEDB used to have U of Phoenix’ graduation rate (number of 4 year degrees granted in 6 years) listed. It was 4%. That’s right. Not a typo. 4%. Yes, four percent.

University of Phoenix’ founders figured out how to game the system. They figured out that by deliberately focusing recruitment on those least likely to succeed, they would not need to deliver much education. U of Phoenix has had multiple lawsuits over things like paying $20 per person to homeless alcoholics to fill out paperwork for Pell grants and student loans.

No, they haven’t reformed. They have just put a damper on the worst of their criminal abuses. Their tuition is high. Their educational product is piss-poor. And they prey on the most vulnerable who most need education. They claim that they “give the poor a chance” and that the massive failure rate is just a result of the demographic they work with. But both are false.

Rather than give the poor a chance, they strip-mine them of any chance those folks had by making them ineligable for Pell Grants and further student loans at an honest institution.

Rather than give them a chance, University of Phoenix takes a demographic similar to, or better than, that which Wayne State has served for decades and kicks them in the teeth by failing them out with no help. But Wayne State has a completely normal graduation rate of 60% or so. University of Phoenix lies.

Lying and stealing at arms length from the federal government using dupes has made the founders of University of Phoenix into billionaires. Their campaign contributions have protected them. But they are nothing but con men in suits. This is outrageously criminal because when people come to an educational institution for help they are uniquely vulnerable.

To cap it all off, University of Phoenix’ PR flacks trumpet that they, unlike all those public universities, are just honest businessmen offering an honest value. They point at public colleges and decry their “cost to the taxpayer.”

How dare they. They are the greatest cost to the taxpayer of any school. They steal from the taxpayer by leaving hundreds of thousands of “students” defaulting on loans that they arranged. AND THEY KNEW MOST OF THOSE WOULD DEFAULT. It is their strategy for enriching themselves.

These “for-profit” universities ONLY exist because of federal grants and federally backed loans. When they fail to educate their students, they are stealing from the taxpayers.

Throw them all in prison, and sieze their assets to pay for what they have done. That is the only right thing.

By: realist50 Tue, 05 Jun 2012 15:32:27 +0000 TFF and Curmudgeon – good points regarding price obfuscation in higher education. There are lots of parallels in pricing of higher education and healthcare, which both feature dramatic differences between “list” price and the actual price paid by most people. In both sectors, third-party payments also account for a significant chunk of the money spent, be that health insurers, or a combination of grants, parents, and student loans at subsidized rates.

Beyond pricing, there’s the additional parallel of most universities and hospitals being “not for profit”, but a bit different than traditional charitable not for profits in that universities and hospitals don’t just rely on donors but generate large revenues from providing services, which makes them a peculiar hybrid in between a for profit business and a charitable organization. Between that model and the payment/pricing model, they have the incentive and resources to pursue expansion without taking a hard look at costs.

Put all of those factors together, and it’s no surprise that inflation in the cost of healthcare and higher education dramatically outpaces most other parts of the U.S. economy.

By: axolotl Tue, 05 Jun 2012 15:30:02 +0000 As a tuition-paying parent, I’ve learned some things about that the undergraduate tuition market.

1) Colleges want to admit students who are significantly better than the average admitted student (based on academic performance or other factors important to a particular shcool), and they are willing to pay.

2) Colleges practice price discrimination: they have a prohibitive sticker price, but the actual net offer price is based on their estimate of your ability/willingness to pay.

3) For several good reasons, colleges offer debt instead of direct financial aid to the greatest extent possible.

So, an outstanding student with a highly paid parent can go to an Ivy League school, but must pay full fare; or attend a second-tier private school at half-fare, or a third-tier school with a full scholarship.

Admission and financial aid offers from a particular school can often be predicted based on how the studeant’s SATs/GPA compare with the average admitted student. If you are at the top of the curve, you will probably be offered merit aid, if you are at the bottom, you probably won’t be offered admission.

Good students can actually get a good education anywhere, including on-line. The student is way more important than the school, and the “best” schools do not necessarily have the best undergraduate teaching. OTOH, the one’s fellow students at the very best schools tend to be remarkable people who have already done remarkable things, and are likely to do more in the future.

Students at top schools have better opportunities for internships, lab research, etc. through the activities/connections of the faculty and alumni.

Whether it is better to be an average student at a top school, or an outstanding student at an average school is an interesting question for which there is probably no definitive answer.

By: TFF Tue, 05 Jun 2012 13:21:37 +0000 lknobel, one could perhaps argue that NYU is worth the money. But Ohio Northern?!? They cost just as much as NYU or Princeton — apparently with minimal financial aid available — and I had never heard of them before the NYT article. Perhaps they have a strong regional reputation? Or perhaps a student would receive just as strong an education attending one of Ohio’s state universities? I still maintain that it is the second- and third-tier private schools where the cost is most questionable.

And Curmudgeon, “price obfuscation” is a good way to put it. Nobody knows what they are paying until they receive their financial aid package, LATE in the decision-making process, and by then the emotional ties have begun to form. Even then, financial aid can sometimes be negotiated. Not sure what the solution is to that?

By: Curmudgeon Tue, 05 Jun 2012 11:15:48 +0000 A related issue is the topic of so-called “open source” education, and some of the disruptive trends noted by Clayton Christensen. I summarize here:

By: lknobel Tue, 05 Jun 2012 11:14:36 +0000 You don’t necessarily need to qualify the choice for Richards’ daughter as a “less prestigious private school”. I’ve been looking closely at this since this choice — and the financial burden — is looming for my oldest son. If he were able to get into Princeton (as low a chance as Stanford), it would cost us substantially less than him going to one of the University of California campuses.

Princeton and a handful of other places, like Stanford, are so phenomenally wealthy that they can provide enough financial assistance even for comfortably middle class families that they become less expensive than public universities. I’m not sure about Stanford, but 100% of Princeton’s financial assistance is outright grant — there are no loans.

As many of the other commenters have pointed out, it’s only the very wealthiest universities that can do this. Based on the calculator on their website, for example, NYU — a very good university — would cost us just about full whack, while Princeton would give us $40,000.

By: Curmudgeon Tue, 05 Jun 2012 11:04:57 +0000 When the talk is about financial aid, why do so many people see discount, and I see price obfuscation? And Felix, you’re simply being disingenuous when you note that over half of the Stanford student body receives financial aid, and the average aid amounts to around $41K, because that include a hefty dollop of loans that must be paid back. I thought you were the finance writer here.

There are good reasons for a student of modest means to attend Stanford, but it’s a very individual issue. Being able to effectively interact in a hotbed of innovation and leadership has lifetime value to those who can take advantage of it. However, at 18 I had neither the world view nor the personality for such an environment to work for me.