Nominated for the Worst Educational Idea Ever

It’s no secret that American college students pay high tuition fees.

Average fees at US universities, 2017-18
Public two-year colleges Public four-year colleges (in-state fees) Public four-year colleges (out-of-state fees) Private non-profit four-year colleges
Tuition and other fees $3,570 $9,970

$25,620

$34,740

“The total 2018-2019 cost of attending Harvard College without financial aid is $46,340 for tuition and $67,580 for tuition, room, board, and fees combined”.

The result is that many students accumulate insurmountable levels of debt.

“Americans owe¬†$1.5 trillion in higher education debt, a burden that weighs down their dreams and the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve says millennials are now less likely to buy homes than young people were in 2005, and even senior citizens find themselves still making payments on their student loans.”

Many European countries offer free or low-cost university education, often in English. Mexico, Brazil, and even economic rival, China offer competitive educational opportunities. One would expect that the US would want to make its higher education more accessible to its own citizens in a bid to maintain its economic dominance, trading on the strong reputations of it universities.

Income-Sharing Agreement (ISA)

But no. Why solve the problem when you can invent something more insidious? American investors are turning students with debt into investments.

In return for an investment in their education students promise to pay investors a percentage of their future earnings. For example, one graduate of Purdue University, presently earning $50,000, pays her investor $279 per month, and this for eight and a half years. This could go up or down as her salary changes. It could go to zero if she becomes unemployed.

Unequal Risk

This exploitation of American students necessarily adds a layer of discrimination to a system already overwhelmed by different forms of it. Not all students are of equal risk and so, often, the university is involved in rating a student’s investment attractiveness.

The following table shows how different educational specializations are rated for investment consideration.

Purdue UNIVERSITY
Discipline Share of Income Owned Term, in years
English 4.5% 9.7
Mass Communication 3.9 9.3
Spanish 3.7 8.7
Economics 3.4 8.3
Finance 3.0 8.0
Mechanical Engineering 2.7 7.7
Computer Science 2.6 7.3

Young People In America

As with Health Care solutions, the American psyche seems to require the intervention of some corporate interest. Education in the 21st century is clearly of top importance in all nations of the world. Yet many Americans can’t proceed directly from the needs of its own citizens (in this case mainly young people) to some of sort of aid or solution to the important problems the group faces. There must be some opportunity for capital investors to score profits, usually substantial.

The ISA is abhorrent as it views university students as immediate sources of profit and not as human beings, people who can contribute much to their country. The fact that many universities are complicit is scandalous.

Wake up America! Taken alongside recent experiences with un-redressed school shootings, limp objection to the separation of parents and children at the southern border, and the already untenable financial demands on US college students young people must be wondering how well loved they are in their own land.

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