Tag Archives: comparative college finances

Debt to Die With

With all this talk about rankings and all the fire that for-profit schools have come under recently, Gawker decided to try and rank the ‘real’ colleges whose students have amassed the most debt.  They took total debt, which made bigger schools come out on top, giving NYU a not-so-surprising win.

But what about Wesleyan? What about debt per student, which is probably a better measure in the first place? We’ve always know that Wesleyan is an expensive place to go to, with one of the highest tuitions and comprehensive costs in the nation, but let’s take a look at the debt burden it places on the students.  The “Median Federal Debt for Those Entering Repayment” for Wesleyan was $11,384.

Estimated Repayment Rates by Institution -- FY 2009 Wesleyan and Comparable Institutions

Yes, Wesleyan’s $11,384 median looks meager compared to NYU’s behemoth of $28,649 (which isn’t even the highest).  But what about comparable institutions? Our Little Three ‘frenemies’ Williams and Amherst have nearly identical medians at about $7,700 (are they even distinguishable schools anymore?), over $3,500 less than us.  Nearby Connecticut College, however, has a similar if higher load.  Vassar, who we seem to be compared to a lot, is also essentially similar to us in Median Federal Debt.  Our “Estimated Repayment Rate” is lower than any of our peers though.

The source information comes from the US Department of Education’s ED.gov, which has other useful information.  Click here for the relevant statistics directly from them.  Click here for Gawker’s Top Ten Universities for Student Debt.

Sorry for the awfully Argus-y post.

Wesleyan is Expensive!

Nobody is surprised! HuffPo listed the Top Ten most expensive colleges in the country (yearly tuition + room/board), and Wesleyan is #11 at $50,862.

The Top Ten:

1. Sarah Lawrence College — $54,410
2. New York University — $51,991
3. The George Washington University — $51,730
4. Bates College — $51,300
5. Skidmore College — $51,196
6. Johns Hopkins University — $51,190
7. Georgetown University — $51,122
8. Connecticut College — $51,115
9. Harvey Mudd College — $51,037
10. Vassar College — $50,875

Dredging up that old Gawker faux-battle with Sarah Lawrence, Jared Keller ’09 muses:

“So hey, they may be our main competition for ‘most annoying liberal arts college,’ but they pay more to do study post-modern economics and grow beards like something a blind bird built.”

See the full Top 100 list at Campus Grotto.

College may become out of reach for most in U.S.

And you thought bigger class sizes might be a problem.

According to a report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, college may soon be financially out of reach for most Americans. Highlighted in an article by the New York Times, the report found that

published college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation, while median family income rose 147 percent. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families.

The article goes on to note that Americans aged 25–34 are less educated than older workers, and that, with less access to credit due to the current recession, the trend of increasing college enrollment may soon lose steam. That isn’t so hard to believe with stats like these:

Last year, the net cost at a four-year public university amounted to 28 percent of the median family income, while a four-year private university cost 76 percent of the median family income.

I’m no math major, but my quick-‘n’-dirty calculations tell me that the cost of a Wesleyan education represents an astonishing 94 percent of the median annual income of an American family.

NYT: College May Become Unaffordable for Most in U.S.

Quirky Gifts Limit University Spending

Earlier this year the federal government started investigating the finances of America’s largest universities, a practice that is shedding light on how gifts from wealthy donors often have quirky strings attached that limit how colleges can spend their money.

Like the guy whose endowment to Princeton is currently valued at $33 million, but can only be spent on stuff related to Greece. Or the Dartmouth alum who mandated that his donation to the English Department be used to provide daily afternoon tea for students and faculty. How civilized!

I’m curious about what possibly questionable limits Wesleyan’s benefactors put on the spending of their money. A throwaway line in PCU comes to mind, where the ultra-PC president of Wesleyan’s doppelganger proposes to spend an endowment surplus on a brand-new Bisexual Asian Studies building.

In all fairness, our Bisexual Asian Studies program is pretty badly underfunded as it is. Seriously though, what’s up Board of Trustees?

Full NYTimes Article: When Strings Attached, Quirky Gifts Can Limit Universities

Ivy League Discounts- Making It Tougher for the Rest of Us?

You might be aware that last month Harvard radically changed its financial aid policy to greatly benefit students from families with annual incomes of up to $180,000 as well as financially less well-off ones. Not to be outdone, last week Yale announced that it will do the same for students whose families earn up to $200,000. Dartmouth is the latest college to announce a major overhaul: a new plan revealed this week provides completely free tuition to all students from families with less than $75,000 in annual income, replaces all loans with scholarships, and extends need-blind admission to international students.

So what’s next from less uh, well-endowed schools? Harvard has a $35 billion endowment, Yale stands at $22.5 billion, Dartmouth has a little over $3 billion, and all three have high growth rates. Clearly their new financial aid policies are excellent news for students accepted there, but what kind of precedent are they setting for the rest of the country? Besides the Ivy league and gigantic state universities, you won’t find many schools with this much to spend, and there’s little chance of Wesleyan (and other smaller schools) scrounging up enough billions of dollars to completely bail out students who could use a break on their tuition. It’s nice that schools like Wes are dropping loans for the lower income range, but there are inevitably many students who are going to end up dealing with a lot of debt after graduation. Does this guy have a valid argument in his New York Times Op-Ed about how Ivy League discounts put stress on less well-endowed schools to skew financial aid so it benefits wealthier students at the expense of poorer ones? Can SuperRoth help us out here by the time he’s done? Only time will tell.

Money makes the world go round

And Yale’s world is spinning faster than ever, according to the New York Times:

Yale University is rebuilding itself — drawing on its huge, rapidly growing endowment and on multimillion-dollar gifts, mainly from alumni — to renovate 54 buildings and construct 16 new ones. Not since the 1930s has Yale undertaken so ambitious an expansion.

A lot of us complain that Middletown lacks things to do, and places to go. Well, with a few more billions in the bank, maybe Wesleyan could afford to copy Yale, and buy a chunk of downtown wholesale:

Propelled by the construction, Yale has become a big owner of commercial real estate in the surrounding downtown, engaging in a form of urban renewal not unlike what Mayor DeStefano [of New Haven] wants for Route 34. But while the mayor has to extract state and federal subsidies, Yale goes forward with its own money.

Biotech start-ups, restaurants and stores now occupy Yale-owned buildings. Wanting its new campus in upscale surroundings, the university even employs two people full time to recruit boutique retailers in New York and Boston as tenants on spruced-up streets.

What can we take from this article, you ask?

  1. Yale is filthy rich.
  2. By the time we get our swanky new science center built, they’ll have probably finished constructing their 16 new buildings.
  3. Here’s to Roth’s plan to double our endowment during his presidency! It’s an ambitious goal, but one which will hopefully allow us to bring in more low-income students, hire more professors, and build new facilities.
  4. Michael Roth looks totally badass here:

EDIT: Replaced SuperRoth with a better version.