College Education and Tuition as Next 'Housing Bubble?'

Updated on May 17, 2012
R.D. asks from San Diego, CA
27 answers

I wanted to share this from Mark Cuban (millionaire and owner of Dallas mavericks). I thought it was very interesting and something I hadn't thought about before. Is a university education worth it if it means our children are saddled with debt they may not be able to pay for after school in such a weak economy? My twins are only 2 so we have a while before we need to deal with this but again I just thought it was interesting enough to share....especially since this is a relatively new problem. Have a great day ladies!

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answers from Charlotte on

Well, I just have to say that my husband wouldn't have the professional job he has without that sheepskin. And he wouldn't have it without his master's degree either. There are jobs you can get without a college degree, but there are careers you will NEVER get without one.

I had Pell Grants before they were called that, and I took out loans. I paid them off in 10 years. I am grateful for my college degree and grateful that I had loans and grants. I would not have been a good mom for my kids if I hadn't gotten a college degree, and I wouldn't have had my 15 year career without it either. (I'm not saying one cannot be a good mom without a college degree, mind you. I know that I wouldn't have been. One of my sons needed too much early intervention and just having a high school diploma would not have helped him enough.)

We just have to be better consumers as far as college choices are concerned, in my opinion. No one HAS to attend a school that costs $52,000 a year.


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answers from Washington DC on

This is one of the reasons my daughter is going to the junior college next fall. Her schools of choice were all over $30,000. I didn't spend that much on my new car.
When she does go away to a 4 year university she better have a job to help pay for it. That goes for all of my kids.
My son joined the Navy so he has the GI Bill. I am all about sending my youngest to the military too.

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answers from Dallas on

One&Done has it spot on. Kids are too entitled. I won't say what I'll do when my kids are prepping for college, because you never know til you're there, but I do intend to let my kids know that I won't be springing for college if they didn't even try to get scholarships. I will, however, do everything in my power to avoid student loans. I agree that that kind of debt for a young adult is just ridiculous, and so not worth it.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

You know, call me crazy, but I worked all throughout my college years, got grants and scholarships and paid my own way. I attended a university I could afford.

I borrowed only what I needed each semester, and graduated with very low loan balances. I scheduled my classes only 2 or 3 days per semester so I could work every other day of the week--including Saturday and Sunday. There was no "day off."

I was also realistic enough to know I wasn't going to make 100K right out of college, nor would I be able to buy a house or a brand new car immediately. Nor would I be able to buy lots of nice clothes, travel, buy other girl-toys, or nice furniture for my apartment.

My first apartment after college was a giant, drafty first floor of an older house. My mini-blinds swayed with the wind--with the windows shut! The gas bills were MORE than my rent!

When I DID buy my first home, (as a single, childless woman) I bought O. for HALF of what the bank agreed to "lend" me, because I KNEW that was what I could afford.
My husband and I did the same thing when we bought our home 14 years ago (which is now paid off).

So, at the risk of sounding like the fuddy-duddy that claims "I walked to school, in snow to my knees, uphill both ways," I think people have to keep things real. Focus is essential. As is a sense of reality.

Sure, tuition is higher now, but I think the REAL issue is fiscal responsibility. No O. has a gun to their head to borrow money for a home OR an education. People need to think outside of the box. Especially when the result of bad decisions last for decades!

Is there really anyone who believes that paying lots of money for a 4 year degree is a guarantee of anything?

It's just more of the credit card hype--get it now and pay for it later...on a very large scale.

I was unaffected by the housing meltdown or the tuition meltdown.
And I have my degree and a paid for house.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

I am doing school just fine and staying out of debt...I pay as I go!

Then problem is too many family's think that a child is too stressed out if they work and go to school cause "school is a full time job" but yet so many of us work and do homework just fine.

Parents need to stop coddling our kids and have them work! And please don't try and tell me that society is not doing this cause most are!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Really anything the government gets their hands on becomes a bubble. See the government sees Pell grants and low interest loans as a way to afford college. In theory it should be but like everything if there is a way to make money on it they do. So what it really did was drive tuition rates higher filling the schools with loan money.

The real travesty of it all is the kids that use these loans and grants tend to be first generation college students. They don't have anyone in their family that understands the difference between a degree in underwater basket weaving and physics. So these kids graduate with degrees of no value, loans with huge values and no understanding of how they got there.

So to answer the title, no, it is not the next housing bubble, it started before the housing bubble. The nature of it makes it very hard to burst so other than people realizing that just a degree doesn't matter it is what the degree is in, it will keep inflating.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My kids are both bright and both know they NEED to get scholarships to attend college. They realize that $100k in debt is unnecessary and stupid. If you go to community college for 2 years, that saves a ton of cash! It's all about this generation thinking that they need to provide the best of everything and not say no to their kids. My kids know that there is no money here. My oldest is an Army ROTC scholarship recipient. He works hard to keep his grades up and his scholarship intact. My youngest is in the process of looking for her college and funding to go with it.
Both of my kids know that the BS isn't worth much and that they'll need to go on to a Masters or a PhD. They are in it for the long haul...
Education is a must... paying $100k for it -- is not. You go where you can afford. You do what you can to say out of debt. You don't spend what you don't have... and then, when you get out -- if there are no jobs, you can do what you need to do and still eat.

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answers from Washington DC on

it's terrifying!
my dh and i are the very parents jo references. neither of us have a degree, and both our boys do (one BA and one AA thus far.) they both did community college, which we paid for, but both are responsible for their higher ed degrees. i was in the weird position when my older son started university of almost talking him out of it. the debt he took on scared and still scares me. it's a huge burden to drag into his young adulthood. and now my baby's embarking on the same path this fall. they both work hard, but we couldn't afford to send them, and they couldn't/can't do it without loans.
but i certainly can't argue their desire to get a college ed, can i? i'm just praying they can get out from under it at some point.
:( khairete

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answers from San Francisco on

Here's my story: I was determined to go to college when I graduated from high school in 1980. My parents had no money. My mom told me - we can not help you with college - you're on your own. I worked part time, purchased a car (18% interest - it was the 80's) and managed to attend school and graduate. It took me 9 years, with a break in the middle of working full time. I attended San Francisco State - a basic public institution with no frills as well as other state colleges and jr. colleges. I did receive a perkins low interest loan, a pell grant, and regular student loans. I graduated with $5000 in students loans in 1989. What I didn't have was a "college experience". I have no friends from college and it wasn't a "fun" time. It was exhausting and frustrating. But I made it through and I will always have that degree. I think that if people set their expectation lower and not aim for the prestigious colleges and the "college experience" their money will go farther.

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answers from Portland on

This is why we are saving up now and going to encourage our son to consider a technical school or getting his associates degree at community college he can get out into the working world and then decide if he wants a gajillion dollars worth of debt. He's five now, and I can't imagine what a university education will unless he knocks himself out in school and attains some massive scholarship, we're going to encourage him to look at the bigger picture of not getting a degree in a profession which won't pay back his student loans.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that there are many factors in the economy as a whole he is not mentioning. I know of at least on person with an MBA who could not find a job and ended up working the drive through at McDonalds. She went back to school for nursing and is now working at a hospital about 50 miles away from her home. She crashes in the hospital extra room for those staying between shifts and comes home when her 3-4 days of work for the week are up. She has a toddler and a kindergartner. The hospital has decided to stop allowing the staff to sleep in the building starting june 1st so now she not only has to drive 50 miles one way to work she must decide if it's worth it to rent an apartment with a bunch of other staff and basically make it a dorm like place with as many twin beds as they can stuff in every room. Just to make it worth their while to go to work.

We have companies leaving USA soil for Asian, Spanish, and other foreign language areas just so they can continue to stay in business. They take all the jobs we could possibly have and go to a, sometimes, 3rd world country and pay their employees pennies on the dollar of what they would need to pay Americans. We lose our source of income time and time again.

How many illegal aliens do we have working in this country right now taking paying jobs from Americans. You can't even get a menial job right now even for our school systems as a janitor. There are no jobs for those who have education or the ones that do have college degrees and even higher degrees.

Housing is going down because more and more people are losing their jobs due to the economy, more and more people are finding that they too are susceptible to being on the streets in a couple of months if hubby lost his job. There are no more jobs for anyone.

I have mentioned my friend who is going through a divorce several times lately. She has a high school diploma. She is not a type A person at all. She worked child care until they decided to start a family. He worked 2-3 jobs to pay bills so she could stay home. He was blessed to get a job at the refinery in my area and he now makes over $100K per year with overtime. He has had numerous girlfriends and spent a lot of his money on things for them and not his family. He kept nagging my friend to go to work and she said no, they decided before they had kids that she was going to be a SAHM. He left her for one of his girlfriends last summer.

She has filled out over 100 applications for work and only got about 10 interviews. She has no work experience, no college education, no job history for over 10 years.

He got custody because she is found to be unable to support her own children. The judge found that she must be able to provide for her children without child support or he gets to keep them due to her being a non working person....because she was a SAHM she lost her kids. I was there, I know what the judge said. He also ordered her to pay A**H**E child support based on minimum wages. Take about injustice.

She has no way of getting financial aid, they don't have the displaced homemakers grants anymore. She has to take out student loans to pay for her classes. She will not be able to get FA until next Spring when her own income tax refund will be based on her sole income.

She will most likely never have a job that will pay enough for her to live, support herself and her kids, and pay student loans back. She will never be able to be on her feet financially again due to the economy, the job market, the amount of money a woman can earn, etc....

So there are a lot of factors this person did not take into account as he wrote this article.

Some people cannot live in a house, drive any kind of a car, have a family, not be on welfare perpetually, live any kind of a life of normalcy unless they take out some student loans.

They do need to find some better ways to fix the program, there are way too many people who just don't pay them back, there are people who do not make enough to pay their high payment too.

Education is a must. People must have some kind of specialized training after high school to be able to have basic needs met. There are no jobs for them otherwise.

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answers from Washington DC on

"While colleges and universities are building new buildings for the english , social sciences and business schools, new high end, un-accredited , BRANDED schools are popping up that will offer better educations for far, far less and create better job opportunities."

It would have been nice, not to mention useful, if Cuban had actually named some of these wonderful schools and given their tuition rates and provided some real examples of the better job opportunities he claims they create.

Oh, right. They don't exist yet. They're still "popping up." Well, we'll see if they exist by the time our kids grow up.

Meanwhile, unless businesses throw out the requirement for a college degree to get a job -- your children will still need one if they want anything beyond the jobs they can get without one.

The whole model in the U.S. is wrong. We should have had from the start the model of free education, through college, for everyone. That doesn't always work smoothly -- witness the fact the UK is now charging fees for college (but at rates we in the US would consider a huge bargain).

Since we don't have that model, students have had to pay more and more. But rather than say "We won't encourage the kids to go to college," instead encourage them to go -- to a college that is carefully chosen for the right majors; for one that is the right size for them; for one where the living costs are not going to be huge; for one where there is student aid on offer and student "work-study" jobs to help them pay here and now for college rather than taking out yet another loan. I see too many friends my age whose parents pushed them toward expensive private schools or who took on the priciest of their state schools, for prestige, when they could have gotten the degree they really wanted from a less expensive school.

Parents also need to be very aggressive about researching scholarships and financial aid. Most of all, parents should be saving from a child's birth. I think all states now run college savings plans that are open to everyone -- everyone. Saving for 18 years. It may even end up covering it all if the choices are made carefully in selecting the school.

I'm troubled by folks posting about college just in terms of whether a degree got them a job that paid well. I thought it was also about learning for the sake of learning and being exposed to new and different things.

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answers from San Francisco on

I've actually heard folks saying not to rack up that student loan debt because chances are you're not going to get a job in your field of study and I've seen it happening to alot of young people. They come out of school with huge debts and have to take just any old job so they can start making their payments.

I am talking to my older nieces and nephews now about trade schools versus traditional college or universities. They cost less, you get through faster and most have job placement assistance.

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answers from Erie on

We are not encouraging our kids to go to college. I'm proof that sometimes a degree is worthless, my husband is proof a degree is often unnecessary for success. They all know that they can join the military (oldest is deciding between an apprenticeship with GE or the Air Force) or pay to get a "starter" degree (like accounting or cosmetology) that will pay for a bachelor degree if they want. We aren't paying college tuition, we have promised to cover the expense of books and food (and they can live at home if they go to one of the 5 colleges in our area) if they decide to go to college. Not all of my kids are cut out for that kind of education, anyway. The oldest two I mentioned learn by doing not reading, and aren't particularly good students grade-wise, but are well liked by their teachers and very smart.

I think we need to get away from the idea that "every kid should go to college". There are many ways to make your way in the world, and college isn't the best choice for every person. As long as they can earn a good living and live a happy life, we'll support whatever they decide to do.

I have to add that it's not that we are telling them not to go to college, but rather that we are showing them that it's only one of many choices for them to have a good life. We're not INSISTING they go, we're not jumping through all kinds of hoops or taking out exorbitant loans for them to do so, nor are we asking they take out loans to go to college. The last thing I want for my kids is to start life like I did--in debt.

With that in mind, the poster above me that quoted me couldn't have fully understood what I meant until I added this.

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answers from Dallas on

We have been checking out and visiting colleges for 2 years now because our daughter will be a Senior next year.

We've also been saving for her college since before she was born, not to CODDLE her but we believe in being debt free and there is no way we will set her up after college graduation to be in debt. We planned and sacrificed for many years for her to come out of college debt free.

Of course she will attempt scholarships. She should do well. We are a very driven, motivated and entrepreneural couple and she has the same drive. She has been prepping for college for years by taking advanced classes, getting high grades, community service, etc. She is also aware that any funds left over in her fund due to her contributions will be hers free and clear to save for her future children, down payment on a home, etc.

I believe a lot of it is how you are raised. She is on my payroll and shadows me in running the financial end of our business so she understands how a business works efficiently.

We are currently talking with Duke, her #1 choice. What you must know is there is a sticker price for college and once you get into your field, there are numerous grants, scholarships available. The issue is some people just don't gather the information and look for opportunities then they are stuck with the sticker price. Shame on them for not being proactive.

Many students believe the opportunities will fall in their lap which does not happen then they complain about the costs, loans, and end up in horrid debt.

We knew when I got pregnant that we would have a college fund to prepare for and we personally feel it is our obligation to get her out of college debt free.... not to coddle her or because she is entitled.... but to prepare her for the real world.

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answers from San Antonio on

I know we will encourage our kids to take as many duel credit classes as possible in high school, then attend community college to take as many credits that will transfer as possible, then if their career choice calls for a four year degree attend a larger university with a lighter class load and the ability to work to help pay for expenses.

They will both be highly encouraged to attain at least an associates degree in business management so they can own and run their own businesses.

And we are already trying to instill and entrepreneurial spirit in our children to encourage them to think about different ways of making money.

I refuse if at all possible to allow our children to rack up large student loan debt that they will start out their lives as adults under the weight of that responsibility.

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answers from New York on

Depends, if universities are viewed as vocational schools, places which give you job training and preparation, you are probably right, they may be a poor investment. If universities are viewed as a place for higher education, and personal development, then they are probably still worthwhile as an institution, but perhaps not at the current cost, or at the current rate of attendance.

Wonder what schooling will look like when our little one comes of age.
F. B.

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answers from Champaign on

My parents decided long before I was born that they would pay for their children to earn a bachelor's degree and that their children would earn a bachelor's degree. It was never a source of stress, it was never something I thought twice about, it was just part of life. The conversations from very early on included grade school, high school and college.

I never felt entitled, and I never took my parents for granted. I attended the cheapest 4 year university in Illinois (Eastern Illinois University - where students do not buy their textbooks!) I am so glad I lived in the dorms!!! What a great experience!

I was able to attend a 4 year university, in part, because my parents planned for it. I agree that junior college is an excellent, less expensive, option, but I am so glad I was able to go away to school for all 4 years. It was an incredible learning experience both in and out of the classroom.

Part of the challenge is that 18 year olds really have no concept of how much money they'll be able to earn when the graduate, and even if they do, they have no concept of how far that money will go. Last summer a college student was trying to sell us knives and thought it was perfectly reasonable to ask us to make 6 months of $300 payments. She didn't realize that was insane. She just thought, you have jobs and a house and you can afford this, right? Well, we also have a house payment and 2 little kids and a car payment and ...

Community college is a great option, public school are great options, there really are tons of scholarships to help, money can be saved from summer jobs, and parents can begin saving the moment their child is born.

There are ways to make this happen!

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answers from Raleigh on

It is a huge concern for many university graduates- how to pay their student loans back. Most will struggle to find a job and keep that job in these times. I know I couldn't pay mine back initially, so I took class at the local community college school part time to defer the loans. Now, I have a job in that field and not in my original degree. It gives something to be said for apprenticeships and hands on training that you get in a community college. If I had to do it all over again, I would take general college courses through the community college, and then transfer in to a university for my major. A lot of people are going that route these days and it's a lot cheaper.

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answers from Kansas City on

We have college funds for our children (ages 6, 4, and 1). My husband and I were both put through college without debt, and we plan to do the same with our children. Some people feel that kids won't take college seriously if they are not paying for it, but I feel very differently. I was very involved on campus (I went to a big state university) and earned nearly a 4.0. I did a semester abroad and graduated in 4 years. My husband's story is similar. Both of our parents expected us to earn a Bachelor's degree in 4 years with an above average GPA and we did. I am so thankful for their financial support.

On a side note, a friend's son just graduated from college this year with 80k in debt (private school) with a degree in Theater and not a job offer in sight. I think the parents are partially to blame for not giving better guidance on degree choice and private vs public school tuition.

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answers from Amarillo on

It's a mentality. Over the years from the mid 60s on emphasis was put on the college education not vocational. There are many plumbers, electricians, carpenters that make $100 or more a year.

When I grew up college was something to dream about and really work hard to attain. You had to have the best grades and family that helped you as well as a few loans to go to university. Most started out with the community college and stayed home no "dorm experience".

I was lucky enough after high school graduate to go to school for a year (including daily commutes by bus or train in and out of New York City) to a secretarial school and finishing school yes they even had the proper care of hair, nails and clothing thrown in. Upon completion of courses you were able to come out in the work world and do something or continue on to college for a degree. Some women went to college and then came to the school so that they could get a job or career.

Times have changed and the cost has made it prohibitive for the "average" person to go to school. Plus children now days are not very focussed on or goal oriented. College is supposesd to be a learning experience but now you are trying to study to get a better job as learn to earn not earn to learn and additional years in school cost more money. Students now days "expect:" to make the top dollar right out of college with no experience and that does not fly. It's called you have to earn or pay your dues to get to the top which could be 5, 10, 15 years after college graduation.

Do your best as a parent to save some for school but more for your retirement. Talk with your children about the importance of education and their ability to make a living to support themselves and to think outside the box at ways to learn. Also to emphasize that we live in a global society and that there are many other people competing for what you want and they you have to be the very best at what you do to get that job or career and to continue studying to keep up your skills current.

It's kind of a shame that a person in the future will need a master's just to serve fries one day because we have become so over educated and the high school student won't be able to get a job.

The other S.

PS I am still going to school hopefully I will have my degree before I reach 70. It's call the pay as you go plan.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Actually the research shows that college graduates make MUCH more than non-graduates in lifetime earnings (this includes the tuition costs and the fact that they have 4 fewer earning years). It is true no matter what field they go into (including fields that do not usually require a degree). Graduates also report higher levels of 'happiness'

Additionally - a liberal arts education is an amazing opportunity to read and discuss literature, art, history, language, culture - all the things that make us human. So many of these things have been dropped from middle school and high school curricula due to the focus on testing. A college education will open doors for one's entire life. Yes, I expect my son to go to college. No matter what he plans to be after that.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The cost of college education is astounding. And for most, there is no way to pay for it, without the loans. We can only hope and pray for a good job after graduation.
For those of you who want to send their kids to college, start saving - a lot - now!
My oldest just finished her sophomore year. We didn't save nearly enough. Even if we had managed to save $1000 every month since she was born, we still would not have enough money to pay for college. I'm still in shock!!
Good luck to all....



answers from Los Angeles on

Like Jo W said, if you are getting a degree just to get a degree, then it won't be worth much. A degree in underwater basket weaving is not going to get you a good job. And a degree in some non-job majors like history, or women's studies, or the like isn't going to have corporate america's doors opened for you either.

If you are really interested in spending less for your education and yet getting a great education, start with a junior college. Get a degree, then move on to a university and have a major that will get you a job. There are far more jobs for accountants than for physical education majors. Go to the military and get the GI bill to pay for your education PLUS all of the benefits for serving your country. You can learn a skill and get paid and save for college.

The bad part of getting an education is the expense. Texas no will let illegal aliens go to Texas colleges and universities at resident rates. That means if you are in America illegally, you can get a cheaper college tuition in Texas than if you are from Kansas or Nevada, or Maine. How's that for supporting America and jobs for Americans. And Texas is not the only state doing that.

When I went to school, I worked and paid for books and college, but I learned real quick that used books were cheaper and had the same words as new books. So I bought used books. I also learned that if I wanted someones name on the back of my jeans and wanted the worn look I could get a much better deal at Salvation Army than at Saks or Nordstroms.

Your debt. Your business. But there are cheaper ways to get an education if you choose to take advantage of them. I heard a story on the national news last night where someone from Poland (I think) that went to work for an expensive college as a janitor and got free tuition. I don't know if it was tax free or not, but I suspect it was. My son went to USC for his medical degree. If I had worked for USC, even as a janitor, he would have had free tuition and would have saved over $150,000 in school loans.

BTW, my 4 years of college debt was less than 2 months pay at my first job and 37.5% was forgiven because I went in the military for 3 years. I was college debt free in three years.

Good luck to you and yours.


answers from Chicago on

Here's my thoughts...

Parents should do their best to help their kids prepare academically so that they can get merit-based scholarships and grants. They should help them choose a career path where the pay will be commeasurate with any loans they need to take out. Parents should NOT cosign extravagant loans for their kids They should encourage their kids to work meaningful jobs during high school so that they are poised to have a college job that will allow them to actually pay their bills. They should encourage their kids to live at home during college--not just in words, but in deed. That means that they need to learn to treat their college-aged kids as adults, respecting their space and encouraging them to act as independently as possible. For me, my biggest mistake was in going to college out of state. If I had stayed in my parents' home, I would have had less than $20k in undergrad loans. But, I moved to Chicago, had to pay $450 for rent & more for utilities, travel expenses to come home, to furnish my apt, etc. Dumb move.

I know that my kids will not get any FAFSA aid, so I will do my best to help them find merit-based scholarships and grants, and will allow them to live at home thru undergrad. Also, not everyone needs to have a 4-year college education. There are plenty of respectable jobs that provide a fair living wage that can be obtained with technical schools and apprenticeships.



answers from Los Angeles on

Check out A girl I know wasn't sure she wanted to go to college. She started on her 19th birthday and got her Bachelor's degree 2 weeks after her 20th birthday. Another girl was 15 and she already had 27 units on college credit.

We homeschool, but anyone can do it. You basically test out of college classes and get credit with an accredited college AND it runs about $15K total.

My son is 9 and finishing 5th grade. He'll graduate from HS at 16, if we can keep him at this slow pace. He can also graduate from college the same day. Then, we are planning on having him work on a master's degree for the next 2 years and send him at 18 off to see the world with $20K. He can either spend a week in London or it could last him an entire year, if he spends it right. When he comes back, he'll be ahead of the game with 2 degrees AND most kids are just finishing their first year of college.

I have NO intentions of paying for college. Therapy - least that will all be my fault. LOL

My parents did not pay for college, my car, etc. I did it all. I respected my education a whole lot more than most of the kid's whose parents handed it to them. I went to grad school. I'm currently paying off my students loans each month and have been for 10 years @ $700/month. 20 more years (less because I am paying more than the minimum) to go but it's at 2.5% - so not in a HUGE hurry to pay them off.



answers from Los Angeles on

There was a fascinating report/editorial discussion on NPR this week that discussed how financial aid has actually contributed to the inflation of the cost of higher education. Essentially they said that because so many schools offer a high amount of "merit based scholarships", it allows them to charge exorbitant fees for everyone else. They even went so far as to say need based grants & scholarships contribute. If everyone receives a discount through "financial aid" this allows consumers of higher education to accept an overall rising price.
I'm not sure what their alternative was - only allow those people to go with huge sums of money that their parents set aside - thereby putting a huge financial obstacle to upward mobility? The only other alternative they had was to point to the prevalance of trade schools and skills-based schools in Europe, where it's shown to provide another path to a good job and social mobility as well.
I'd be interested to see how the inflation has grown between private schools who charge what they want and state schools whose constantly decreasing public funding has to be made up through tuition from students.

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