I'd like $14,300 in small, unmarked bills
January 18, 2011 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Student puts the cost of education on the table Out of state student Nic Ramos paid his $14,300 tuition cost for a semester at CU Boulder in $1 bills to bring attention to the rising cost of education in the U.S.

Consumerist's take on the matter. Some stats on tuition loan debt in the U.S. Why does college cost so much in the U.S.?

More to the point, is the degree you're putting yourself in debt for actually going to pay for itself?
posted by lonefrontranger (63 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
$14,300 is really cheap compared to what my parents paid for my college education, 10 years ago.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:17 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


was that for a semester? or per year?
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:19 AM on January 18, 2011


With cheaper options in his home state, I'm /golfclap. California has an excellent university system.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:19 AM on January 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ramos is from out-of-state but is going to a state school. I'm not sure the reasoning as to why he went from California to Colorado in order to pay two to three times the tuition. I suppose he has good reasons for it -- i.e., specific educational programs only offered at CU Boulder, or an expectation of relocating to Colorado -- but I think that tuition is part of the decision-making process.

I guess I just have a hard time understanding why you would opt to go to, of all places, CU Boulder when the state you come from has such a huge network of state universities that are much cheaper for you as a resident
posted by jabberjaw at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does college cost so much in the U.S.?

Anti-socialist anti-taxers.
posted by DU at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


Hopefully he logged all of those serial numbers at WheresGeorge.com so we can really see where his education dollars go.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:26 AM on January 18, 2011 [29 favorites]


I paid my tuition in cash one semester, due to a mixup where the loan couldn't be disbursed to the school for some reason, and instead came in the mail as a personal check to me. Not being near a branch of my own credit union, and not having a checkbook, I deposited the check at an ATM, and took out the maximum withdrawal amount several days in a row.

I felt like an absolute mogul walking into the cashier's office and peeling off a couple grand in twenties. I also went with some friends this summer who were buying a used car. They aren't native English speakers, so I was there to make sure they weren't being taken advantage of with the paperwork. They payed with a handful of Benjamins, having no US checking account. It was similarly awesome, and really seemed to alter the power balance in the room considerably, helping their bargaining position.

I highly recommend making a large purchase sometime in actual, physical, cash money. It's an indescribable feeling balla-ness.
posted by LiteOpera at 8:28 AM on January 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Alternatively, he's demonstrating that it's silly that we still use paper money in such small denominations.
posted by schmod at 8:28 AM on January 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


was that for a semester? or per year?
Per semester.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2011


Well, I once paid for something with $10 worth of pennies because I was pissed about having to pay for it.

It didn't make it any cheaper.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:30 AM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why does college cost so much in the U.S.?

Lots of reasons. Personally I lay the blame at two things: first, cheap money in the form of student loans means that colleges are free to keep ratcheting up the cost of attendance, knowing that student loans will be available to cover it. This is a massive market distortion. Student loan availability should have been capped decades ago and indexed to inflation.

Second, many schools are run like businesses. They compete for students with things like fancy new dorms, athletic centers, stadiums, dining halls, etc. This increases costs. But a lot schools are basically now endowments with schools attached, and the purpose of the chancellor/president/dean is to increase the endowment first and fulfill the educational and research purpose of the school second. So rather than pay out of the endowment in order to offset those costs, the schools simply increase tuition.

Many schools have a large enough per-student endowment that they could adopt a policy of eliminating tuition for all students (or all but the wealthiest), but they don't because they gotta keep that endowment growing.
posted by jedicus at 8:32 AM on January 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Student loan availability should have been capped decades ago and indexed to inflation.

Or better, it should have been replaced with a grant system that was likewise capped and indexed, with a requirement that schools that accept federal funding had to keep at least x% of their slots open to students receiving grants, and those students wouldn't have to pay anything to the school beyond the grant.
posted by jedicus at 8:35 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was a cashier people used to make "protest payments" occasionally (in $2 bills often). Guess what, the cashier doesn't care how you pay and nobody else is going to have any idea why there is a cash drawer full of $2 bills.
posted by interplanetjanet at 8:36 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Brocktoon, point taken, however he could be going to one of the specialty schools here in atmospheric sciences.

I think the point is more that a) this is the cost of ONE SEMESTER, and does not include the cost of housing, books, transporation, food, expenses or incidentals.

I didn't go to college, so maybe my viewpoint is warped, but I think you should have the option to attend the school of your choice regardless of where in the U.S. it is as long as you're a U.S. citizen, without paying such high penalties merely for being "out of state", where in certain cases "out of state" can mean (in the Northeast, for example) from less than 2 hours' drive away.

I think this topic has been discussed here a lot before, but I guess it's kind of frightening to me, as someone who never went to school thus never had to deal with that kind of debt, to think of being something like 23 years old and over $80,000.00 in debt, especially in an economy like this.

I guess I'm just somewhat frightened for all my friends and coaching clients who are of / around that age. It seems like a crushing weight of responsibility for someone that young, is all.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:36 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


With cheaper options in his home state, I'm /golfclap. California has an excellent university system.

That was my first thought as well. UCSD only cost me around $6K per year back in the day. But I checked my alma mater's website and it looks like it's now around the same price as this kid is paying. Don't know about the relative academic rankings since I'm long out of school, though. I'm guessing UCSD is a much better school, but I'm probably a bit biased....
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:37 AM on January 18, 2011


I'd just like to say- I DID go to an in-state public school and I still have $30,000 in loans to pay back, even after getting half my tuition covered by grants. And I worked for most of the time I was in school, too. "Lol just go to an in-state school" is no longer a valid answer to the problem of college costs.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:39 AM on January 18, 2011 [16 favorites]


1) There are so many good schools in California.

2) Most people who are hurting from tuition shock don't have the money in cash. You just have to increase the amount in loans you take out. It makes it so much more abstract.

3) $14,300 a SEMESTER? It just makes him seem like a person who can afford it, because he's from out of state and this is only for undergrad. It's hard to sympathize.
posted by anniecat at 8:39 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a Colorado semi-native, I've noticed a lot of Coloradans going to California and a number of Californians coming here for college, sometimes for no other reason than getting away from home and succumbing to the "grass is greener" effect.
posted by kozad at 8:43 AM on January 18, 2011


I'd just like to say- I DID go to an in-state public school and I still have $30,000 in loans to pay back, even after getting half my tuition covered by grants. And I worked for most of the time I was in school, too. "Lol just go to an in-state school" is no longer a valid answer to the problem of college costs.

Ditto. Well, I have closer to $40,000, but $10,000 of it was from graduate school. I even lived at home my last two years and commuted over an hour each way to save money I would have spent to live in the dorms. Out of my friends who paid for their schooling themselves, I have the least debt.

Being our age sucks.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:45 AM on January 18, 2011


That was my first thought as well. UCSD only cost me around $6K per year back in the day. But I checked my alma mater's website and it looks like it's now around the same price as this kid is paying. Don't know about the relative academic rankings since I'm long out of school, though. I'm guessing UCSD is a much better school, but I'm probably a bit biased....

DAMN. I just looked at your link. DAMN.
posted by anniecat at 8:45 AM on January 18, 2011


it's silly that we still use paper money in such small denominations

REINSTATE the 10,000 BILL!
Because there aren't enough people named Salmon.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:46 AM on January 18, 2011


It was quit a sight and they said that nobody had even payed in ones before....

Why do so many of the news articles repeat these grade school errors in his statement? It's making my head hurt, especially in the context of complaining about higher ed.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:46 AM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


College is expensive, in part, due to administrative costs. These are high, in part, due to students holding up the line paying in dollar bills instead of by check.
posted by dgran at 8:50 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, I think that everyone is aware of the rising costs of tuition, but no one is really doing anything about it because the feeling is is that you can't get anywhere without a college degree, so a lot of schools just keep increasing tuition and fees because they can. And they can. I believe, at my college, to get a degree, you had to attend for at least two years. So that's two years in tuition and fees guaranteed. And there's nowhere you can just hobble four years of community college credits together for a bachelor's degree. And if you want to keep costs down, you should probably live at home which limits schools you can attend.

It's all just very difficult and unfortunate.
posted by anniecat at 8:56 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


lonefrontranger: "$14,300 tuition cost for a semester at CU Boulder in $1 bills"

Of all the things to protest at Boulder, he's chosen to die on the hill of tuition? How about the price of housing in Boulder, and the city policies that enforce it?
posted by pwnguin at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


okay LULZGRAMMAR and LULZGOTOSTATESCHOOLYOURICHFUCK snarkery aside...

My fiance went to a state tech school for an undergrad in aerospace engineering, then got scholarships to CU to get his Masters. He also was smart enough / advanced enough to graduate a year early, and fortunate enough to have had savings / trust fund earnings from family to pay for most of the costs. Not everyone is that lucky, I get it. Well and plus he worked nights and lived in a communal shithole to pay off the rest. I'm not saying this is a normal situation in this day and age; honestly mr. lfr is fucking lucky, fucking smart and fucking motivated. His total tuition (had he had to take a loan for it) was north of $60K when he graduated in 2004, and despite being super motivated, lucky and smart, he still only managed to land an entry level engineering job paying $30K working for a shitty boss, and stayed there for 3 years "paying the dues" so he could move up. That's how it works. It would have sucked balls had he been saddled with a huge tuition loan debt during that period.

And not everyone is anywhere near as lucky or motivated as he is. And for those who don't or can't get into highly desirable fields like mechanical / aerospace engineering and biotech (which is what he's doing now), well then, the earnings potential to pay off that debt - I dunno it seems to me almost like playing the lotto in some cases.

I know a damn lot of kids with various expensive degrees who've graduated and are still unemployed 6 to 9 months, or even a year later. Some of them even worked really hard through college to try to offset the cost. Some of them are friends of ours, wondering if they're going to be able to pay the rent / heat bills.

I can see my fiance, despite being one of the lucky ones who didn't have to go into crushing debt to finance his degree, pulling a stunt like this to try to raise awareness about the cost of education. He knows he's lucky, and he's grateful for that, and we try to do what we can for our friends.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2011


Sometimes I get the sense that the need for a 4-year college degree, as well as the constant use of unpaid internships, as well as certification creep in general, is just a rebranded way to maintain a significant class barrier when it comes to jobs.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:07 AM on January 18, 2011 [23 favorites]


Why does college cost so much in the U.S.?

Lots of reasons. Personally I lay the blame at two things...


I'll add a third: Massive funding cuts at the state level.

[rant]In Nevada, we don't pay state taxes. The state basically runs on casino and hotel taxes, which obviously have made the recession doubly difficult here.

But my Republican governor(s) absolutely refuses to raise taxes, which by some monumentally tortured logic includes a refusal to revamp the tax structure (which both parties have called for for 15 years) ensuring a long and deep recession this time and the next.

So how do cops get paid and prisons stay open? Cut higher ed by 20%, of course!

Thank you, exiting Governor Jim Gibbons. And thanks in advance, Governor Sandoval. Your lack of leadership will be felt for decades to come in the form of an uneducated populace and a state incapable of attracting relevant employers. So much for running government like a business. (hint: Businesses invest in their future.)[/rant]
posted by coolguymichael at 9:15 AM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is by now my white whale that I can not ignore, but out of state students, fees, a real scam.
Not many years ago virtually every state university had a ten percent cap on out of state students. After all, in state students paid taxes for their state university. Then many legislatures allowed the schools to set their own standards--doing so in order not to take the blame--and many schools now take 20 or more percent of out of state students, who pay of course significantly more tuition, and who thereby in taking seats at the school, deprive in-state students from attending and thus being forced to go out of state and pay higher tuition!
posted by Postroad at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you should have the option to attend the school of your choice regardless of where in the U.S. it is as long as you're a U.S. citizen, without paying such high penalties merely for being "out of state", where in certain cases "out of state" can mean (in the Northeast, for example) from less than 2 hours' drive away.

That's a nice thought, but as long as we have states that set and raise their own taxes, and use those taxes to fund universities and colleges within their states, you're going to have in-state and out-of-state tuitions that aren't the same. There's a very real and serious free-rider problem there.

Generally, the "out of state" tuition at state schools represents (what they claim is) the real, unsubsidized cost of the education you're receiving. The "in state" tuition represents that same cost, with a big discount negotiated by the state, in return for state funding.

The taxpayers of, say, Connecticut (via their elected representatives), basically engage in a sort of collective bargaining with their state universities: we'll give you $X million this year in funding, and in return the in-state tuition will be no more than Y, and you have to accept Z in-state students. The taxpayers of Massachusetts do a similar deal with their own public universities, and the net result is that a student residing in Connecticut can go to a CT school for far less than a MA school.

It's entirely possible for states to negotiate among themselves, or between their university systems, so that "in-state" tuition would apply to all of their residents at all of their universities. I know for a fact some instances where this has happened. (In Maine, where there is not a public medical school, qualified residents can -- or at least used to be able to -- go to Dartmouth Hitchcock and pay the NH "in-state" tuition, as a result of some agreement between Dartmouth and UMaine.) That this doesn't happen more often, or among more / bigger states, is entirely due to a lack of interest among taxpayers.

What you seem to be asking for is this sort of collective bargaining to be done from the Federal level and I'm not sure that this consistent with the traditional idea of state versus Federal powers in the US. Just speaking generally, it's tough to imagine an issue that can cause more hyperlocal, "hands off my stuff," political trench warfare than education.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:28 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


cheap money in the form of student loans means that colleges are free to keep ratcheting up the cost of attendance, knowing that student loans will be available to cover it. This is a massive market distortion

Second, re-write bankruptcy laws to prevent students from ever having their student loan obligations discharged, effectively guaranteeing a loan for the life of the individual.

Thus the punishment for someone trying to free themselves from underclass is a permanent membership to the underclass.

THAT'S WHAT YOU GET, MISTER COLLEGE SMARTYPANTS.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:40 AM on January 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't know if Colorado's public university system is suffering the same drastic cuts in services and increases in fees that California's is. I do know that if I were looking at attending a state university, I'd think long and hard before applying to California schools, where the regents have demonstrated that they're willing and able to jack up fees in the middle of the year, and where cuts in classes offered means it might take you much longer than four years to get your degree.

As an aside, as far as I know, there is no in-state or out-of-state tuition difference for "Dartmouth Hitchcock," by which I assume Kadin2048 means Dartmouth Medical School. It's a private, not public, school.
posted by rtha at 9:52 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tuition is outstripping general inflation because the costs of college are not driven by the price of avocados, bread, etc. Universities are low margin businesses with expenses tied to staff and depreciation of facilities. Staff costs are tied to retirement, healthcare and salary; the first two of which are rising ahead of inflation.
posted by humanfont at 9:53 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once had to pay for a good part of a semester's tuition in cash due to a perfect storm of financial/banking things gone wrong. It felt pretty badass and vaguely illicit to just hand over an envelope stuffed full of cash, but I hope I never have to carry that kind of money on me ever again. Even on a totally safe (and tiny) liberal arts campus I felt like there was a huge glowing target on my back.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2011


Two alternative reasons for rising costs (may be complementary to those already mentioned)

1. University is a status system not an education system. The point of going to university is to get ahead of the other schmos by demonstrating your higher status and worthiness for higher status jobs. Not to learn anything useful (on the whole). That may explain why costs for prestigious schools, and certain programmes like MBAs are so outrageously expensive - to keep the plebs out of the middle classes (I blogged on this here)

2. Universities spend their money on facilities and staff because these are the institutionalised interests in the university while students come and go. The economic logic is similar to that of undergraduate textbooks which are increasingly expensive because professors choose them (and choose the ones with the most bells and whistles) while students have to pay for them.

Furthermore, prospective students would like to make their decisions based on how good the education they receive will be, and perhaps how much it will help them in their lives. But there are almost no published metrics on this. Instead, universities compete for prestige in research (hire lots of stellar professors and give them a low class-load) and facilities (shiny libraries and gyms) which is about all prospective students can see to base their decisions on.

Conclusion: market failures galore
posted by Philosopher's Beard at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


however he could be going to one of the specialty schools here in atmospheric sciences.

*looks it up*

Even if he were, going out of state to another state's school of no better general reputation, just for the sake of an undergraduate minor, is kinda silly.

Why does college cost so much in the U.S.?

A few big, obvious reasons.

One is that being a professor has shifted, over decades, from being almost the kind of job you take because you don't need to worry about money to being more of a regular job/career. Salaries, at least for people on full-time lines, have broadly caught up with the rest of the public sector and/or maybe the private. You can see this most obviously in that it's not uncommon for people newly hired as assistant profs to have higher pay than full-profs who've been there for 35 years.

Another is that the nature of the field is one that's labor-intensive. You can always throw more people into a lecture hall and/or broadcast the lecture, but at some level you're always going to be talking about one person teaching 20-50 others.

The third is the reduction in state support. States have shifted from overwhelmingly funding state universities through direct appropriations to requiring universities to more closely approach funding themselves through tuition, grants, and donations. This is most obviously seen in the periodic talk you hear about X State University or University of X at least considering ways to buy out the state's capital investment and become a private nonprofit who can deal with their own affairs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:12 AM on January 18, 2011


is the degree you're putting yourself in debt for actually going to pay for itself?

The idea of a degree that pays for itself is only appealing to people who will always wonder why success seems to elude them.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:29 AM on January 18, 2011


I highly recommend making a large purchase sometime in actual, physical, cash money. It's an indescribable feeling balla-ness.

Soon to be followed by a different feeling when the IRS puts you under a microscope.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:57 AM on January 18, 2011


Huh. My undergrad tuition at a well-known, very large, major university was about $1,300 a semester. That was a few years ago, but it's still only about a thousand dollars more than it was when I went there. It seems foolish to choose to attend a university that is overpriced when there are more reasonably-priced, viable options. It seems even more foolish to then complain about it.

I highly recommend making a large purchase sometime in actual, physical, cash money. It's an indescribable feeling balla-ness.

I once had occasion to walk through the downtown of a major European city with a few hundred thousand dollars in cash in a briefcase. But I didn't get to buy anything with it. I was a little disappointed that the briefcase didn't have a handcuff, to be honest.
posted by The World Famous at 11:21 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sticherbeast: "Sometimes I get the sense that the need for a 4-year college degree, as well as the constant use of unpaid internships, as well as certification creep in general, is just a rebranded way to maintain a significant class barrier when it comes to jobs."

Right. And see here's the even more insidious part. I work as a secretary. I am, really, no more than a glorified waitress who types things and knows a bit more than the average bear about how to research legal stuff online. There are days, like today, when I don't have much to do, when I pretty much think a fucking trained monkey could do my job.

So as I understand it the "steno pool" was a formerly blue-collar profession, right? I've got no college, but I do have over 20 years' worth of experience in admin work, and I've also got a pretty specialized "organic education" in my field (biotech / pharmaceuticals). When my boss wrote the job requisition for my position 2 years ago so that I could apply for the same goddamn job I'd already been successfully doing for over 18 months (with no healthcare benefits, for cheapsies, as a temp)?? He had to flail through quite a bit of red tape with corporate just so he could justify hiring someone who DIDN'T have a paralegal degree or a 2-year business administration degree! Not to mention gerrymandering the process so that they didn't try to offer it to someone else "more qualified" within the company.

My job kinda made sense for all that rigamarole since I'm a high-level legal admin. But then if you read through job listings in the area, many places require 2 and sometimes 4 year degrees just to pretty much answer phones and make copies. Oh sure you can "temp" for those jobs indefinitely, often for less than half the compensation. For the term "temporary employment" substitute "a dead-end dumping ground one step away from welfare, with fewer benefits and more financial instability".

something is pretty fucked up with this system. And yeah, if you live in a system where you are FORCED by arbitrary moving-target requirements to pay for a college degree? I'm sorry maybe this is old fashioned of me, but I'm still of the opinion that you should be able to reasonably expect compensation, on successful completion of said degree, that can repay your tuition debt within a reasonable timeframe without having to live on ramen and sleep on patio furniture in a shithole apartment you're sharing with several other people.

yeah, yeah, I know, I'm showing that my understanding of capitalist free market economies is pretty terrible. But still.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:34 AM on January 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


As an aside, as far as I know, there is no in-state or out-of-state tuition difference for "Dartmouth Hitchcock," by which I assume Kadin2048 means Dartmouth Medical School. It's a private, not public, school.

Well, DMS is part of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, so I think that's a bit nitpicky, but yes you're technically correct about the name. (And that's the best kind of correct!)

The more I think about it, the tuition break may have been at UVM (which makes sense, since it's a state school) while the deal at Dartmouth was just that you'd get a leg up in the application process. This thread mentions the application pool thing: "Dartmouth, UVM, and UNE (DO) have had agreements with the state of Maine that Maine will pay a certain premium to have their applicants considered in a separate pool, so getting in may be easier as a Maine resident." It says no tuition break although I would have sworn that was the case somewhere.

It seems the whole arrangement may be going away in favor of a more formal agreement between Maine and Tufts, so it's interesting only from a historical standpoint at this point.

I gave up on the whole plan to be an MD (and be in debt for a large portion of my working life) and moved out of Maine a while ago so it's been a while since I've looked into or even thought about it.

At any rate, such things would certainly be possible especially among small states and their universities, but there doesn't seem to be a ton of interest even in New England, that I've ever seen.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:57 AM on January 18, 2011


A good plumber can make a comfortable living, never run out of work, use her skills to directly effect the quality of people's lives, and still have time to read all the books she wants and even write one if so inclined. And every day brings the satisfaction of hands-on problem-solving.

(The downside, of course, is that sometimes there is poop involved. I, personally, would rather shovel actual shit than metaphorical shit. YMMV.)

Trade school, kids. Trade school.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:52 PM on January 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's a lot of good reasons here about why college tuitions have gone up - credentialism, salaries, benefits costs like insurance, and the implicit arms race in terms of facilities, research prestige, and attracting the best students.

I'd also wonder about old fashioned administrative bloat and the costs of intercollegiate campus athletics.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:53 PM on January 18, 2011


The alternative magazine Washington Monthly has a feature on colleges every year, focusing on various aspects. The most most recent college issue was mentioned here already mentioning a interesting U of MN/Mayo clinic initiative, so I'll just highlight a different article, on how much colleges put into campus tours.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:57 PM on January 18, 2011


The idea of a degree that pays for itself is only appealing to people who will always wonder why success seems to elude them.

It's also a great marketing slogan for private college loans.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:59 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't blame him for not staying in California. I teach at a UC and it's kind of a mess now.

Of course, I don't know much about Colorado, and it's possible that they're having the same problems there. I figure it doesn't make much sense to pay out-of-state public tuition; then you might as well pay private tuition and be a little more insulated from This Economy.

As for people who have pointed out that some states are small and so this "out of state" concept is silly: there's something called the New England Regional Student Program which covers the six New England states. A lot of New England public universities charge something like 150 or 175 percent of the in-state rate to students who permanently reside in New England and want to go out of state to study something not offered in their home state. I don't know if any other sets of states offer this on such a large scale; it seems like it would be most useful for states that are both geographically small (so "out of state" isn't necessarily "far away") and have small population (so they can't necessarily offer all the programs people might want). The only other state that really fits that description is Delaware, and in fact the University of Delaware has some sort of arrangement with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. This press release talks about it, and also says that "Jefferson Medical College serves as the medical school for the state of Delaware.", although I'm not sure what that means.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:18 PM on January 18, 2011


Minnesota has tuition reciprocity agreements with North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin (and Manitoba, apparently). Not having grown up here, I don't know why people choose to go to another state--whether one of the universities in another state is better than the ones in their state or whether they just want to leave. (I'm sure both happen, but I don't know what the most common reason is.)
posted by hoyland at 1:44 PM on January 18, 2011


"Why is xy so expensive?"

I would assume the answer is because people are willing to pay it.

Why is college in the united states so expensive? Because people are willing to pay for it.

Why are people willing to pay for it? Because education by and large is worth it.

I have wondered for some time if the problem with colleges is that perhaps they need to be run more like businesses.

Right now, everyone pays the same fees at most schools despite the fact that some of those will go on to create value for themselves, some for shareholders, and some for society/the community.

Should a teacher or sociology researcher pay the same school fees as a business student? The former is going to contribute to the world in a non-commercial way (probably) whilst the latter is probably going to contribute to the world in a commercial way. Both are better off for the existence of the other however we cannot pretend their earnings potentials are the same.

Thus rather than complain about what people make after college, why not adjust the cost of the investment.

For a bastard comparison, I suppose it's like a bank where they charge a flat investment fee ($20k a year) and you choose an asset class. Some assets are going to return more than 0%, some less.

I suppose the way forward would be for colleges to take 10% of a graduates earnings for x years. Then I imagine not only would costs come under control but also colleges would look at an applicant's career plans and make more careful decisions.

Thinking about that, colleges are a lot like The Goldman Sachs. The Goldman Sachs doesn't loan money but makes money of advisory fees. They have little skin in the game beyond their reputation. Colleges suddenly seem very similar.
posted by nickrussell at 4:07 PM on January 18, 2011


It suddenly occurred to me why somebody would choose Colorado State University Boulder over one of the many fine institutions in California. It's one of the top-ranked party schools in the nation.

I know somebody from California that went to Arizona State University. I simply could not understand why they would want to go to ASU when there were fantastic, cheaper state schools that she could have gotten into nearby, especially considering she would have to pay out-of-state tuition at ASU. When she continued to get bad grades and spent more time on her sorority than classes, it was pretty clear that she was in it for the social aspect, not the educational aspect.

To be clear, I'm not saying that this is why Ramos chose to go there, but I do wonder if it was a factor. I mean, $14,000 in one dollar bills?
posted by jabberjaw at 4:58 PM on January 18, 2011


I am not saying that CU Boulder is a bad school at all. I understand it has great academic credentials, despite its reputation for being a party school.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:59 PM on January 18, 2011


Alternatively, he's demonstrating that it's silly that we still use paper money in such small denominations.

Using dollar coins would have been better somehow? That would have weighed 253 lbs, while the dollar bills only weighed 31 lbs.
posted by smackfu at 5:41 PM on January 18, 2011


"Why is xy so expensive?"

I would assume the answer is because people are willing to pay it...Because education by and large is worth it.


Or maybe because an 18-year-old who's just out of high school, with no skills or any future plan, would happily sign over his soul in order to party for 4 years rather than enter a non-existent job market.

Which brings us to the real reason college costs so much: Because high school is a pointless waste of nearly everyone's time.
posted by coolguymichael at 5:46 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why are people willing to pay for it? Because education by and large is worth it.

Or because they are stupid kids who are willing to take out huge student loans without realizing what an anchor it will be on them for the next ten to twenty years. Do you really think students are weighing the real impact of this vs. the gains?
posted by smackfu at 5:47 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does college cost so much in the U.S.?

1. Because money, or lack of it, is the measure of everything in the U.S.

2. Because at one time too many people got too smart as a result of low-cost education. Besides creating problems of excessive perceptiveness, they became unhappy that, despite the glittering promises, there was nothing for them to do unless they were either the best or well-suited to play 'The Game'. So the grants programs were scaled way back and a liberating post-secondary education was once again primarily the preserve of the privileged. By now the liberal arts are being scaled *way* back - or eliminated. Suitable training facilities remain.

3. The necessity of going deeply into debt to achieve an education keeps young people from having much time to discover themselves, the world, or the tissue of lies. Asking too many questions just makes a mess of their lives. The rapid cost increase began as part of the deliberate 80s program which included thoughtful overhauls of educational facilities and the environs that surrounded them - so that "It" could never happen again.
posted by Twang at 6:45 PM on January 18, 2011


Tuition has gone up because nearly nobody cares about being the cheap school. Sure, being four times as expensive as CC's cuts into all measures of enrollment, but even the CC's levy property tax to make up for it. In contrast, state funded Unis have no power to strong arm the legislature, and turn to tuition and grant writing workshops. Technically they could try to lower professor salaries, but that comes with a heap of risk and strife.

It might be interesting to compare tuition to first class postage.
posted by pwnguin at 7:17 PM on January 18, 2011


...deliberate 80s program which included thoughtful overhauls of educational facilities...

Is this a pitch for a an action-comedy 1984 prequel/reboot starring Jaon Statham and Christopher Loyd? Something you heard on George Noory?

Sometimes things happen in our society. Sometimes huge and fundamentally bad things happen. Sometimes these things even change gradually according to something that looks like a coherent plan if you squint your eyes just right. That doesn't mean that They are Pulling The Strings to prevent It, and Capitalizing Everything.
posted by LiteOpera at 7:26 PM on January 18, 2011


Semester tuition of $14,300 may be ridiculous, but what is the University of Colorado supposed to do when it gets only about 6 percent of its funding from the state?
posted by epimorph at 10:17 PM on January 18, 2011


BitterOldPunk: "Trade school, kids. Trade school."

BOP, I love that idea, and I love you for suggesting it. I am super-duper behind the idea of trade schools and guild academies. Hell I wish there were reliable paid apprenticeship programs out there and readily available to anyone age ~15 and up, just like back in the Good Olden Days of Yore (middle ages, Renaissance, etc.). Unfortunately the harsh reality in this day and age is that the way trade school is presented to most kids in the good old US of A is as a dead-end career path that is generally framed as being highly undesirable, nay, one step away from "juvie" or "the short bus academy". I'm sorry, hear me out. Even back in the 80s when I was in secondary school, I, and many of my peers, were actively and strongly discouraged from taking the JVS route because the "open secret" was/is that JVS was where all the kids too dumb to succeed went. And in hindsight, I'm kind of sad about that, because when I went out to the JVS for a 'check it out' session just to get my skills tested (against the protestations of both my g.c. and my mom, who wailed about me "wasting myself"), turns out I was pretty fucking good at welding, plus I enjoyed doing it. C'est la vie.

Trade school / guild academies are not presented as "skilled labor prep" in this country. They are perceived and administered, rightfully or no, as a dumping ground for all the losers, stoners, slackers and the borderline mentally retarded; basically these days I get the feeling you might as well be stamping license plates at the county jail. There's little to no "value" or "worth" associated with any of those jobs, or the educational path to them. Reading between the lines, I suspect that the elephant in the room is that there's probably some species of paid kickback going to high school guidance counselors in order to steer everyone towards the (far more lucrative) degree programs at Your Local State Public College, no?? I'm trying really hard not to look like I'm wearing a tinfoil hat as I say this, but it kinda stinks a bit to me.

So then you wind up with the moderately intelligent but backward students (like myself) who are unmotivated and unable to afford a degree, and skeptical of the admissions system (yea, I was a cynical conspiracy theorist even as a teenager, so sue me). So you go do the "more acceptable" entry-level stuff like waiting tables, clerical temping, retail, call center work, flipping burgers, hotels & grocery jobs, schlepping packages, and all the various other minimum-wage shit work that comprise "unskilled labor". Unless you're extremely lucky, extremely aggressively competitive/motivated, or extremely willing to suffer multiple jobs, debt and long hours to improve your situation, you end up kind of stuck in this big murky lower-class pool of "unskilled labor" by default, simply because you don't have a college degree. It's not that you're not smart enough to hold a job, or don't have skills, you just aren't "skilled" by the current definition of the term, which for all intents means "Thou Shalt Get A Degree". And you're condemned to this ongoing vicious cycle of marginal employment, little to no paid healthcare, and zero vacation or family leave, likely because you just didn't want to opt into a frightening debt load to join what appears to be an increasingly exclusive and classist system of higher education. Yeah, Phoenix Academy online night school bla bla bla... trust me, I've listened to the HR people sneering at those certificates. A lot of that stuff these days is borderline internet scammy, and really not worth the paper it's printed on.

The thing is, despite everyone's insistence to the contrary (including my highschool guidance counsellor who ranted endlessly at me about the "value of a higher education") I'm still kinda skeptical that you actually get what you pay for.

I promise, I'm done grinding my axe now.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


It suddenly occurred to me why somebody would choose Colorado State University Boulder over one of the many fine institutions in California. It's one of the top-ranked party schools in the nation.

Is there any reason to believe that this upstanding fellow was unable to attend San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, or one of California's other fine party establishments?
posted by The World Famous at 10:29 AM on January 19, 2011


Skiing's better in CO, brah.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2011


"Study shows 45% of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years."

"The conclusions confirm the findings of another recent study conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which found that less than five percent of schools require economics and less than a quarter have a solid literature requirement... ACTA's study of more than 700 top colleges and universities around the country, enrolling over 6 million students, shows that students can graduate from college without ever having exposure to composition, literature, foreign language or American history..." [source]

yea, ok, I'm gonna rush right out and pay for 2 years' worth of that.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:17 PM on January 19, 2011


One of the things I learned at college is that peer reviewed studies are the benchmark of publication, and that people who publish science by press release or book are suspect. Maybe that's just academic bias though.
posted by pwnguin at 3:41 PM on January 19, 2011


If I were Emperor of the US, I would promote trade schools and vocational education. I would have a mandatory year of service after high school - military or public works. I would promote the a rigorous two-year degree as the building block of one's education, with the next step being either a two year advanced degree, a medical track, or law school as two years plus a year-long practicum.

All I have to do is become Emperor, then, and maybe I can make this happen.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:13 PM on January 19, 2011


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