Elizabeth Warren continues to be a powerful force in the campaign to fix the student loan system. Warren spoke at a recent hearing for the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee, saying that although the interest rate necessary to cover the cost of the student loan program without making a profit would be about 2.5%, the government is charging students nearly twice that amount for undergraduate loans, and even more for graduate and direct loans. But Warren has come under fire from critics who say that the figures she is using in her argument are wrong.
In the follow-up to the controversy surrounding the suspension of Northeastern‘s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine by the school,
Unless you shut yourself off from the world this past week, you probably read, or at least heard mention of, The Atlantic’s feature story on fraternities and their dangers, which highlighted Wesleyan University and Beta Theta Pi. The article explores the role of fraternities on campuses, especially in the crafting of party culture and the rise of sexual assault. The article is long, but well worth the read, and has reopened space for dialogue on these issues.
Wesleyan student and senior interviewer Zain Alam ’13 has been featured in Businessweek
for an op-ed regarding student loans as part of a feature piece on student loans, an issue which is becoming more and more prevalent as private universities continue to increase their costs. The increasing amount of time required to pay off loans is acknowledged in the story title: Student Loans: Debt for Life. The blurb for Alam’s photo illustrates a situation that has become commonplace at top schools, including Wes:
A senior at Wesleyan University, Alam works 10 to 25 hours a week to limit his loans, which he still expects could reach $23,000 by the time he graduates. “It becomes really apparent how absurd the price tag is when you go abroad and everyone’s jaw drops,” he says. “Of course, most of them say they’d do absolutely anything to get an education in America—but at what price?”
Alam Editor Peter Coy cites a New York Fed study that found people over 60 are responsible for over $60 billion in loan debt, and offers a handful of possible longterm solutions to the problem:
Why are we in college again?
This is a question that probably runs across the minds of many attending colleges and universities across this country at some point during their undergraduate tenures. There are of course many among us who have some understanding that the diplomas we are to receive give us some sort of “proof of worth” that in turn allows us beter access into the job market. And indeed, this is perhaps the true case of our modern times in complex societies.
But taking that truth within the context of the financial realities that come with it (see: an almost certain future of debt) highlights what can only be described as a perverse internalization of the “higher education” concept by society: It is an accepted convention that we are supposed to whip out large amounts of cash in order to be able or allowed to receive some decent amount of cash in the future (and even that’s not guaranteed).
This appears to me nothing less than a clear example of an absurdity made normal. And so it does to Peter Thiel (pictured) – co-founder of Paypal – as well who, as chronicled in a recent article by TechCrunch, is seeking to undermine this convention. Thiel is part of a project called “20 under 20,” where the idea is quite simple: Pick the best twenty kids they could find under 20 years of age and pay them $100,000 over two years to leave school and start a company instead.
In vouching for the notion of diploma-free success, Thiel is fighting what he calls the “Higher Education Bubble,” which he sees as having irrational and detrimental social processes that are quite similar to what we saw with the housing bubble that greatly contributed to the late-2000’s financial crisis. Fascinating stuff.
You can check out the article here.
[Thanks to Anike Arni ’13 for the tip!]
These informational sessions are designed to provide graduating seniors with repayment information for federal and institutional loans they may have borrowed while at Wesleyan. Information on debt management, budget management, and default prevention, will also be presented at each session. Representatives from the offices of Student Accounts and Financial Aid will be available to address your questions.
At this session, you will also receive your exit interview packet. The packet contains a list of all the loans you have borrowed while at Wesleyan and instructions for completing the mandatory Stafford/Direct, Perkins and Wesleyan Long Term Loan online exit interviews.
Please contact faloaninfo(at)wesleyan(dot)edu or joutlaw(at)wesleyan(dot)edu if you have any questions.
There will be three loan exit presentations:
- Wednesday, April 20, 2011: 12:30 – 1:00 pm
- Thursday, April 21, 2011: 12:30 – 1:00 pm
- Tuesday, April 26, 2011: 4:00 – 5:00 pm
All three sessions will be held in Exley Science Center: Room 150.
Déjà Vu ensues at Wes.
You might remember a Wesleying post over the summer regarding a Wes student ’12 whose family financial situation, coupled with his international status, rendered tuition for the coming semester all but completely unaffordable. Distraught but unbeaten, the student set up an extensive website and Facebook page soliciting donations and ideas for how to raise upwards of $60,000 in one summer. That student did not end up returning to Wesleyan this term. His website is no longer online. But the Wesleying comments section (archived here) unleashed some worthwhile (and unnecessarily ugly) debate, ranging from sincere outpourings of sympathy (“even if you don’t want to donate, show him some support!”) to terse dismissal (“Get a fucking job”) and much in between.
A recent Gawker story, regarding a 2009 graduate of Northeastern University who is now soliciting donations to help her cover over $200,000(!!) in student loans, offers startling parallels. Kelli Space, 23, has also set up a website to plead her case and seek generous contributions: TwoHundredThou.com. She even provides the horrifying repayment schedule itself. For a 23-year-old, this is pretty goddamn bleak. She writes to Gawker:
The severity of my situation goes a bit deeper than “I owe this money, help me” – I am actually forced to live with my parents (forced = I am lucky! But…) as the monthly payments for just my private loans are currently $891 until Nov 2011 when they increase to $1600 per month for the following 20 years… attached is my payment plan. I also mentioned I have a job – which is great! And I probably have my college education to thank for that! Except there is still no way to make these monthly payments, and live on my own as a contributing member of society. Neither of my parents, nor I, really knew how this would pan out — unfortunately — and now that I’m here, I see no real light at the end of the tunnel.
Learn about loan repayment at lunchtime:
Seniors, do you have questions about how to manage your public and private student loans after you graduate? Wondering how payment works, how to defer if you go to grad school, and how to manage your debt? Come for a short talk and some Q & A with the Assistant Director from the Office of Financial Aid to learn all about loan repayment after graduation!
Date: Wednesday, February 25th
Time: 12:15 to 1pm
Place: Butterfield A Lounge
Snacks will be provided!
Brought to you by the Career Resource Center and the Office of Financial Aid
Marianna Foos ’08 has a helpful tip for alums who have student loans. After running into some problems herself, she writes,
I was getting worried that I hadn’t gotten any information from Sallie Mae about repaying my Stafford loans when I realized that I might not have updated my address with their system, even though I went through all of the exit interview business at the end of last year. So anyone who graduated in May who has a Stafford loan might want to double-check with the company that they have your current address. I know it was my fault and everything, but Stafford loans come due in December and I don’t want people to miss payments.