You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 08, 2016, 12:16:46 AM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Forgive Student Loan Debt  (Read 2040 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online AndyZ

Re: Forgive Student Loan Debt
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2012, 05:45:30 AM »
One example Alice gave was reagants. Just in case you don't know what she was referring to (and you may, I don't know), reagants are chemical components used in a lab. They are, by their nature, one-use-only. An example from home would be adding vinegar to baking soda. The vinegar and baking soda are your reagants, and once you react them, they are gone. You can't get them back. If you want to do the reaction again, you have to get more vinegar and baking soda. The only thing is that some of these things cost hundreds of dollars for a small bottle.

I wasn't certain, but it's good to know.  Appreciations for making sure things are clear ^_^

Quote
Another example would be equipment. In order to remain relevant to current scientific fields of study, universities have to upgrade to recent equipment. Equipment that I have personally used in my own research includes HPLC (ours is ancient, but it works, and the cheapest price for an HPLC that I found online is $10k), and  LCMS (over $500k per machine). The reagants for my personal lab work were probably close to $500, and that's not counting the equipment and reagants that my lab was already stocked with. An electron scanning microscope, which is vital to the education of modern biology, biomedical, and nursing students, runs upward of $500k and can be up to a mil. And that's just one college in my university, which has at least five colleges (Nursing, Arts and Sciences, Visual and Performing Arts, Business, and Law) that I can think of off the top of my head. Each college has its own expenses such as subscriptions to relevant journals and databases.

Something I never looked into but I don't think you'd mind telling me: do different fields of study in a university cost different amounts?  Or is it all one lump sum that gets evenly divided among the students?

Quote
And then there are salaries. Universities, including - maybe especially - public universities (will get back to that in a minute) have to offer salaries that are at least comparable to if not competitive with the salaries that professionals would make working in their field instead of researching and teaching for the university. For some schools, the prestige of teaching at the school helps offset that (e.g. being offered a teaching position at Yale or Harvard is prestigious so in theory you wouldn't have to pay someone as well for it, although with a $30 billion endowment, Harvard can certainly afford to pay its professors very well) but for most schools like mine, you have to offer something comparable monetarily. Some people are willing to teach at public universities out of altruism, and that's fantastic, but that is not the majority of the workforce. So if someone can expect to be making easily $400k/year plus bonuses in the private sector, the school can't exactly offer them $80k a year to teach. And those salaries are not going down.

All of these costs and more add up to increase the cost of education nationwide.

I guess my issue is one of velocity vs. acceleration.  I understand why the costs would be high to begin with, but other than the new machines and the like, not why they continue to rise so much faster than inflation.  If all students are charged the same regardless of the cost of the machines necessary to provide learning, that would explain why, but wouldn't it then make more sense to charge more for a science degree than a liberal arts degree?

Based on DarklingAlice later saying that she averages costs across programs, it implies that different programs do cost different amounts.  I can see why science program costs would be skyrocketing, but liberal arts?  Are the salaries of the teaches jumping rapidly because other salaries are jumping rapidly?

I'm sorry for not getting this.  I'll shut up if people want and I'm providing too much of a distraction.

Quote
A public university does not have to be entirely or even primarily funded by the government. For instance, the university that I attend is a public university that only gets about 20% of its costs from the state. Everything else is fundraised, donated, endowed, or funded through student fees.

I probably got confused by the question of public schools and private schools, and their definition.  I'm guessing public university just means that they get any government funds whatsoever, then?

I actually think all elementary through high schools are doing a horrendous job. Regardless of being public or private. But yes, I assumed you meant universities as we are discussing college tuition. And my public university is consistently ranked in the top 20 of the nation (and generally within the top 50 worldwide).

In the part of my post that you mentioned, I was drawing an equivalency to the student voucher program idea.  Apologies that I was unclear.

Trieste already gave a nice window into what the costs are and I just want to follow up with a general question: this notion that universities just charge as much as they can get away with, where is this even coming from? A university is a business with an operating cost just like any other. Tuition is regulated by what costs the university sustains, what the markets will bear, and what is necessary for the university to be able to re-invest in itself. E.g. tuition at my school will cost (averaged across programs) ~$15,000 a semester (twice that for non-resident students). I get that from a naive view that seems like a lot of money, but you have to balance it with the fact that goes to salaries for ~3,000 people, facilities maintenance, need based financial aid grants, research technology, and all the administrative costs attending those. I really just don't get where this idea of the greedy university with its arbitrary price points originates.

It's just the way our culture is going right now.  People don't trust businesses, and a university is a type of business.  I wouldn't consider myself against business, but if prices are rapidly jumping, I at least want to know why.

It's probably just so many minor factors that you can't pinpoint one issue, though.

Well, the argument is similar: without those gimmicks text book companies can't make it worth their while to print textbooks. It is a limited market after all and those companies aren't printing text books out of the goodness of their heart. However, I really question the need for textbooks in the first place. Neither my undergraduate nor the majority of my graduate program made use of them (and the three that my grad program used were probably well worth the ~$60 apiece I spent on them, two of them are currently on my desk in my lab). Frankly I see the majority of textbooks as a crutch that could almost always be replaced by original sources.

Since you're already in the field of academia, might I suggest ebooks?  That'd cut down on prices dramatically, as well as make it much easier to change the material on a regular basis as changes are made and science continues to evolve.  Do they exist at all, or would that be a separate company which is entirely viable but doesn't yet exist because the current companies aren't doing it?

If that's the case, I wonder how hard it'd be to start my own textbook business that works on ebooks.

*snip*

I'm not really sure what to say here, but wanted to let you know that I wasn't ignoring you.

I know Penn State recently raised tuition because our wonderful governor slashed the hell out of the education budget.  He decided schools don't need it.  They can pay teachers less, or have fewer of them.  And if that doesn't work, they can get cheaper equipment.  The gas drilling company needs the money so much more than schools...


Are the natural gas companies being government subsidized more than other businesses?  PM me with a link if you could; I don't want to derail this convo too far.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Forgive Student Loan Debt
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2012, 07:54:36 AM »
Based on DarklingAlice later saying that she averages costs across programs, it implies that different programs do cost different amounts.  I can see why science program costs would be skyrocketing, but liberal arts?  Are the salaries of the teaches jumping rapidly because other salaries are jumping rapidly?

Just to be clear, our school does biomedical sciences and that is it. I was talking about degree programs. E.g. a MSc costs different than a MPH costs different than an MSN costs different than an MD costs different than a PhD (which does have a set cost at most universities though, at least in science, no student ever pays it because they wind up working off their tuition).

It's just the way our culture is going right now.  People don't trust businesses, and a university is a type of business.  I wouldn't consider myself against business, but if prices are rapidly jumping, I at least want to know why.

It's probably just so many minor factors that you can't pinpoint one issue, though.

Well, sometimes it is minor factors having long reaching effects, and sometimes it is really unpredictable things. Right now, our theory at least, is that prices have jumped due to the increased cost of gas in transportation involved in manufacturing being passed on to the consumer. Everything is up a little bit all over the board (the cost of relying on a trucking industry rather than streamlined rail). Sometimes it is less straightforward, e.g. in the 1970s most histology became prohibitively expensive due to the sudden jump in price of haematoxylin due to clear cutting in Brazil. *shrugs* We use a lot of strange, rare, and cutting edge stuff. Sometimes it moves with the markets but often times it exists in its own little zone.

Since you're already in the field of academia, might I suggest ebooks?  That'd cut down on prices dramatically, as well as make it much easier to change the material on a regular basis as changes are made and science continues to evolve.  Do they exist at all, or would that be a separate company which is entirely viable but doesn't yet exist because the current companies aren't doing it?

If that's the case, I wonder how hard it'd be to start my own textbook business that works on ebooks.

Might work for other fields, but screens don't survive long on the bench. You should see our poor egg timers, I don't want to think what would happen to a Kindle. Probably one of the reasons that scientists will be sticking to nice paper bound books with glossy spill resistant pages and our beloved old school computation notebooks rather than joining the digital age.

Will talk more later. Late for work now!

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Forgive Student Loan Debt
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2012, 08:12:22 AM »
Well, the argument is similar: without those gimmicks text book companies can't make it worth their while to print textbooks. It is a limited market after all and those companies aren't printing text books out of the goodness of their heart. However, I really question the need for textbooks in the first place. Neither my undergraduate nor the majority of my graduate program made use of them (and the three that my grad program used were probably well worth the ~$60 apiece I spent on them, two of them are currently on my desk in my lab). Frankly I see the majority of textbooks as a crutch that could almost always be replaced by original sources.

It's a product, though, not a service. They don't need to keep up with competitive wage or the other costs universities have, only inflation to maintain their profit margins - and textbook prices have risen at 200% of inflation rate for almost twenty years. You say you spent $60 apiece on your law books - most books I'm seeing in my local bookstore are in the $100 to $150 range each, usually 2-3 needed per student for all their courses, and because they've started bundling them with one-time-use access codes to online quiz sites and resources, they become non-refundable. This is the sort of price-gouging that got people charged with war profiteering when they're marketing to the government, but when college students are the target, it's perfectly fine.

Offline Trieste

  • Faerie Queen; Her Imperial Lubemajesty; Willing Victim
  • Dame
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2005
  • Location: In the middle of Happily Ever After with a dark Prince Charming.
  • Gender: Female
  • I am many things - dull is not one of them.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 4
Re: Forgive Student Loan Debt
« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2012, 10:19:01 AM »
Let's see...

I wasn't certain, but it's good to know.  Appreciations for making sure things are clear ^_^

 :-)

Something I never looked into but I don't think you'd mind telling me: do different fields of study in a university cost different amounts?  Or is it all one lump sum that gets evenly divided among the students?

I don't know what other students' bills look like, but on my bill there is an Arts and Sciences program fee (in my university the department of chemistry falls under the College of Arts and Sciences), an Athletics Fee, a Campus Center Fee, a Curriculum Support Fee (at $4,541, this is the largest item on my bill), a Graduation Fee, a Health Fee, my health insurance ($2,102), a Student Fee, and my tuition ($708.50). The graduation fee is charged only once, and it's to pay for my cap/gown/diploma/etc when I graduate this spring. The only fee I can imagine varying for other students based on major would be the program fee... So to answer your question, they probably do cost different amounts, but not by much.

I guess my issue is one of velocity vs. acceleration.  I understand why the costs would be high to begin with, but other than the new machines and the like, not why they continue to rise so much faster than inflation.  If all students are charged the same regardless of the cost of the machines necessary to provide learning, that would explain why, but wouldn't it then make more sense to charge more for a science degree than a liberal arts degree?

The examples I gave were for the science department because that is what I know. I honestly don't know what other degrees consist of, although I can point out that on a research-based degree like a history degree, the costs are not guaranteed to be lower. While I may make use of a machine that costs $10k with fair regularity, they will be making use of databases and subscriptions to journal publications that can cost thousands of dollars annually. Googling the New England Journal of Medicine, their price for institutional subscriptions ranges from a few hundred dollars to over $20k, and that's just ONE publication. So if you need access to ten different publications for your research, you're looking at the school spending up to $200k annually on those subscriptions.

So anything that relies on research (not lab-based research but journal-based research) is going to be expensive, too. That includes disciplines like Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Political Science, and History.

Based on DarklingAlice later saying that she averages costs across programs, it implies that different programs do cost different amounts.  I can see why science program costs would be skyrocketing, but liberal arts?  Are the salaries of the teaches jumping rapidly because other salaries are jumping rapidly?

It's not just professors in the sciences that are paid well. One of our political science professors is also a local city manager. I really like the guy, he's a great professor, but we do have to pay him fairly for his time. An economics professor who could make a lot of money working in the private sector also needs to be paid for his time. I'm proud to say that we have a nationally renowned opera singer in our music department. We have to pay him fairly for his time, too. And fair compensation means that as private sector salaries rise, ours have to rise in order to keep pace with that.

I probably got confused by the question of public schools and private schools, and their definition.  I'm guessing public university just means that they get any government funds whatsoever, then?

It's also in how they were founded, and how they are run. Here is a good definition:

The major difference between public universities and private colleges lies in how they are funded. This affects students because funding is tied to tuition prices. Most public universities and colleges were founded by state governments, some as early as the 1800s, to give residents the opportunity to receive public college education. Today, state governments pay for most of the cost of operating public universities. They also oversee these institutions through appointed boards and trustees.

Since you're already in the field of academia, might I suggest ebooks?  That'd cut down on prices dramatically, as well as make it much easier to change the material on a regular basis as changes are made and science continues to evolve.  Do they exist at all, or would that be a separate company which is entirely viable but doesn't yet exist because the current companies aren't doing it?

Companies are doing it, but they charge just about as much for eBooks as they do for the physical book. ::)