Lars Larson on College Debt; Save Us, Stupid Taxpayer!

I talked to a nice young lady who writes for an alternative weekly newspaper in Portland called Willamette Week. Beth Slovic wrote a piece in which she alleged that college costs too much money. It leaves students with degrees that don’t get them high paying jobs but they have a lot of payments to make on their student loans. They can’t afford it so, therefore, the rest of us should pay more taxes.

Well, I came back at her with a few thoughts. Number one, an awful lot of students take too long to finish college””five, six and seven years. They rack up a ton of debt because they live on credit the entire time. They don’t work a job like many of us have done.

I didn’t finish college, but I worked a job the whole time and it made sure that I could pay my bills and I had no college debt. A lot of college students get it done that way. The argument that the taxpayers should pay more is bankrupt. The taxpayers pay plenty. It’s time for young men and women to decide, “Is it worth the debt to get the job I’m going to get from this degree.” If not, don’t do it.

“For more Lars click here”

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  • Larry

    Lars writes:
    “It’s time for young men and women to decide, “Is it worth the debt to get the job I’m going to get from this degree.” If not, don’t do it.”
    ===

    That time has been here since before I went to college at a state university, class of 1982 (took me four years). I worked part time, and took out small loans. I got my BS in Political Science, then promptly went to work in a mgmt training program for a retailer in CA, where the jobs were in ’82.

    I worked for five years, then quit to enter a two year masters degree program, giving up an annual income of $50K and taking on debt of $50K. I was more motivated in class during my masters degree program than I was during my undergrad program, since I was footing the bill.

    My second year of my masters degree program, I didn’t like the choice I first made, so I worked full-time the second year, went to school in their night time program for working professionals; still finishing the two year prorgram in two years, despite full time work the 2nd year. It took me almost ten years to pay off that $50K debt.

    I made my choices, and I paid my debts. So should the current crop of students. If they don’t have the money to pay for college, they can always borrow today and pay for it tomorrow. Or work and study at the same time. Or they can also just drop out and forget about college, Like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Maybe they can start the next Microsoft or Apple. Or just dig ditches for a living.

    It is their choice. Let them live in the bed of their choosing.

    • eagle eye

      College costs are a lot higher today, reltive to what a student can earn in a low-wage job, than in the time when Larson attended UO for a year and dropped out. Higher than in 1982 when Larry was a student. Don’t believe me? Look at living expenses and tuition compared to minimum wage over those time frames.

      • Jerry

        Who cares? College costs are high because the colleges can’t budget or manage money. They are fools. Community colleges are affordable still and would be the very best way for most students to get the first two years under their belts. Sadly many students take on debt to go to a “four year” college like that is some big deal. It is not.
        People are responsible for their own decisions. If they choose to get into debt because they are too stupid to figure out another way, why should that involve me??

        • eagle eye

          Yes, Jerry, yes Jerry. Perhaps you can apply to run one of them and show the world how it should be done.

      • dmf

        Yes, but look at the cost of living in comparison to the minimum wage then. It actually cost us a little less dollar for dollar than it does now. You only stated a partial comparison.

        • eagle eye

          Whatever the point is that you are trying to make, it escapes me.

      • Stephan Andrew Brodhead for Congress

        The present New Gill Bill being considered in the Congress and Senate at 50 billion dollars will be very costly to the public. We must have a better GI Bill than the MGIB (Montgomery GI Bill), but not as costly as what is being considered presently. I believe the following changes to The New GI Bill will make it fair, balanced, and cost effective. This Iraq Era Veteran GI Bill depends greatly on volunteerism and our state institutions providing “That earned chair in the classroom”. It also depends heavily on the mental health specialist volunteering.
        Jim Webb’s New GI Bill in its present form is fiscally irresponsible and duplication of effort in some manner. It is appropriate when modified to respect the tax base and maintain retention. As it is now, it adds 50 billion dollars to the citizen tax obligation and will harm retention by 16 percent per Pentagon studies.
        Public College Tuition costs have risen to approximately $8,000 a year. Private college tuition may exceed $36,000 per year.
        If we add a monthly housing Stipend of $1000 for 9 months of the year, in 4 years the VA in some cases will have to pay out over $130,000 per soldier. This is more money than the 1st Timer makes on active duty. Training costs for many military jobs cost tax payers several thousands in tax base revenue. More advanced technical job training costs may approach hundreds of thousands. Pentagon estimates clearly state that the New GI Bill will hurt retention by 16 percent. New GI Bill proponents justify this by stating that the Bill will increase enlistments. So we lose our already trained individuals for individuals who require expensive training. and several years of OJT. They do not take this into consideration. Any new GI Bill should focus on fairness, volunteerism, retention, and manning our Guard and Reserve units. The DOD would then have money to upgrade worn equipment, replace aircraft, and refit. This will directly benefit our economy. This is waste fraud and abuse.
        1.) Guardsman and Reservists active duty accumulation summary must be retroactive to Desert storm. High Ops tempo, force reduction, and Base Realignment and Closure activity or (BRAC) has put a tremendous strain on the Reserve and Guardsmen since 1990. Retroactivity To 2001 is unfair and disregards a full decade of “High level” Guardsmen and Reservist participation.
        Desert Storm, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Somalia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia, 911, Afghanistan, and Iraq, all had very high Guard and reserve participation.
        2.) Dozens of states now offer free tuition at their state Universities for Guardsmen who sign up for a 6 year enlistment with an Air National Guard or National Guard Unit. This frees up their MGIB for shelter, food and books. Increasing the MGIB to $1000 per month would be quite generous. The VA already provides $880 a month for a 6 year commitment. In addition to this MGIB, dozens of states provided state funded tuition. We encourage the states to at least fund 75%. This will enable Guardsmen the opportunity to serve, learn, and live quite extravagantly. This is very generous for the Guardsman. Anything more and it would not be fair to the tax payer.
        3.) First term enlistees must serve a 4 year enlistment and be separated in order to qualify for the $1000 stipend.
        4.) States must offer Free or reduced pricing on tuition for Veterans. The VA will absorb 33 percent of tuition cost, the University 33 percent, and the separating veteran 33 percent. This will encourage 1 st Term enlistees to join Guard Units where 100 percent is paid versus 66 percent.
        (This is extremely generous; Vietnam vets received a fraction of the $1000 stipend and had to pay their own tuition). The VEAP Veterans Education Assistance program received about $200 a month and had to pay their own tuition. We encourage states to fund Veteran education 100% or at least waive the Veteran 33 percent portion. (Veterans who have served in combat are subject to entry and yearly PTSD battery tests which will be retained by the VA)
        5.) Individuals remaining on Active Duty will not be entitled to a stipend since they are gainfully employed. Active duty will be entitled to their current 75 percent tuition (No changes).
        6.) Several thousand mental health specialists are offering PTSD counseling free of charge for returning Veterans. Universities must provide shared office space on a weekly basis for volunteer counselors. The VA coordinator for each University or College will act as liaison between Volunteers and Veterans. This is the PTSD VA/University Associate program. Volunteer counselors will be compensated for vehicle expenses, and a yearly tax credit. Etc.
        7.) Reserve units will be treated in the same category as Active duty, with addition of “active duty accumulation banking” active duty since 1990. This means 75 percent tuition reimbursement just like active duty. Active duty accumulation will be retroactive to Desert Storm
        8.) Guard and reserve UTAs (Unit training Assembly time) are allocated at 1 point for every for 2 days of UTA.
        9.) Unused portions of Guardsman or reservist educational benefits can be allocated to a family member (spouse or child) no stipend. (Tuition only)
        10.) Tuition is deployment sensitive. If individual is deployed midterm etc. Voluntarily or involuntarily, they are still eligible for that semester when they return.
        11.) Separating enlistees should be provided the opportunity to extend enlistments to coincide with the starting of the school year. This will preclude the need for any type of unemployment benefit. They will be gainfully employed up until they attend school.
        12.) Tuition reimbursement is predicated on taking an MMPI style PTSD battery test on a yearly basis.
        The Active duty force structure, as a whole, is very well paid. NCOs with a tax free deployment are paid exceptionally well. . Individuals with only a GED or High school education in the civilian sector are hard pressed to make Active duty quality wages. The Active duty force structure will also benefit from an educated workforce. Enlisted folks with a 4 year degree should be first in line for officer positions. We must maintain Active Duty strength and retention. If individuals ultimately decide to separate from Active Duty, they must be enticed to join the Guard and Reserve etc. Training costs are a major portion of the military expense.
        Guardsmen and Reservists maintain civilian jobs, families, and the Guardsman commitment. It is much harder to be a Guardsman or Reservists. They are paid a fraction of what the Active duty force structure gets until activated. Active Duty may retire at 38 years old, the Guardsman and Reservists must wait until 59 ?. Today, Guard and Reserve units are equally qualified and perform the mission on equal footing. By not acknowledging Guard and Reserve participation retroactive to 1991, we are insulting thousands of patriots.
        The current MGIB pays out only about $880 a month. One must pay for Tuition, books, food and shelter with this sum.
        Prior to the MGIB there was the VEAP or Veterans Educational Assistance Program. VEAP when fully funded paid only $200 a month over a 4 year period. The individual saved approximately $70 a month over a 4 year enlistment for this plan.
        I believe, jumping from $880 dollars a month to $1000 stipend and free tuition is extremely generous.
        Stephan Andrew Brodhead

  • Steve Plunk

    It’s funny how colleges are so full of smart people but they can’t keep costs down. The cost of college has been increasing faster than inflation for years yet the power that be don’t seem to know why. I know why, greed.

    Over paid administrators, professors, and staff care about everything but their primary mission of teaching undergraduates. They see the college as a vehicle for social change and early retirement. They plead poverty while spending more and more every year. Until these people understand what is important we can expect more students leaving with crushing debt and a chip on their shoulders.

    By the way, I finished college in four years, worked while I attended, and paid off my loans.

    • eagle eye

      Steve, see above to Larry. Times have changed. It used to be you could work your way through college with a summer job and part time work during school. That would be a tall order now.

      I don’t see why anyone would expect the cost of college to track the rate of inflation, any more than the cost of K-12 has, or any labor-intensive professional endeavor.

      It’s as true for community colleges and (where there is no teaching of anything but undergraduates) as it is of four year colleges and even of major universities (where there is a lot else going on besides teaching of undergrads).l

    • UO science student

      I think I’ve had some things to say about previous posts of yours. You seem to have a vicious hatred of everything having to do with higher education. Let me set you straight on a few things.

      Professors retire early? Not the ones I know. Almost all wait until they’re 65, many go on longer. Some of the science profs run their labs after they retire, and even let guys like me do some research in them. And in Oregon public universities, the professors are way underpaid compared to the market they are in, especially those at UO and OSU. You just don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

  • Crawdude

    I think a lot has to do with the bad choices students make, as to what career degree to go into.

    There are many high paying careers out there. A BA, Masters or PHD in humanities with a minor in French Literature probably isn’t going to earn you much. I have a cousin that spent 8 years in college getting the above degree, she now works at a museum earning $25,000 a year. Luckily for her, her parents were the ones that had to go broke for her self indulgence. I can’t imagine spending 8 years of my life in school to accomplish nothing, wasn’t that a party!

    Getting your AA at a major college is probably not a good idea if you can get the same quality instruction at a good community college. A Mount Hood education is just as good as an OSU unless Mt. Hood doesn’t offer courses in your chosen field. Its obvious by the pay we’re talking about that employers aren’t looking at what school they went to any longer.

    This leads to another question I have: Should someone going after their Masters or PHD have at least worked in their fields for a while, prior to advancing to a higher degree?

    Once you get you BA, work, pay off the debts if needed. Then go back once you’ve gotten the experience to understand the difference between life and lesson plans?

    I agree that these students are making bad decisions and they should pay for them, not the taxpayers. If they decide they want the tax payers to pay, then I would like a say in their Majors and a GPA above 3.0 held or they hit the streets. Just my opinion.

    I understand EE’s argument but I’m also curious why the costs have grown so much faster than wages in this country. I think a little fiscal constraint on both the institutions and students may be in order.

    • eagle eye

      Re why costs have gone up so much:

      Part of it is the growth in compensation. Not wages, but compensation i.e. salaries + benefits. Real compensation has gone up a huge amount over the years as shown in this BLS figure:

      http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4577/3079/1600/wages.3.jpg

      Compensation for professionals has probably gone up a good deal more than the average in this graph, we all know the well-off are pulling ahead. So the biochemistry or law school professor has to be paid in the market for those types, like it or not. Most people who become professors, at least in the sciences and professions, do so knowing they are making a big financial sacrifice.

      That’s probably about half of the inflation-plus growth in college costs. Another piece of the pie is just the growing affluence of the country as a whole. Today’s dorm is not the dorm I lived in, which was a lot different than when my family lived in post WWII barracks as my parents studied under the GI bill, which was different from when students used outhouses and got their water from a well. The food in the cafeteria is not, thank goodness, the slop I got to eat. The classrooms we studied in are not like today’s. Visit a modern lab, you will not find the strings and sealing wax of 100 years ago. Autzen stadium today is not the stadium of 40 years ago, nor are the training facilities. You can say the college students (and the staff) are spoiled, but then so are office workers in general.

      It is fine to talk about restraint, but the reality is, we live in a market. In particular, UO and OSU are about as low budget as they can be and still be what they are.

      • Crawdude

        Fair answer and thanks. What you said tells me the the people using the services need to be the ones that pay. I see no reason the taxpayers should pay for a market driven vehicle that not everyone uses.

        I was at a Grateful Dead concert in the early 90’s at Autzen, seemed like a decent stadium back then. Had to hitch hike all the way back to Portland, everyone has a Dead story, lol!

        • eagle eye

          A defensible position. As long as people don’t complain if it becomes unaffordable to them, or their kids, or society in general. And why not apply it to high school? Or K-12 schools? Or all other government services? A libertarian position. Some people will want to go down that road, I don’t think terribly many.

  • Lee

    Eagle eye, I believe it is still possible for energetic Oregon students to get a state institution college degree without asking taxpayers for further handouts. Besides knowing many that are doing so today, here is a comparison analysis of how many of us did it in late 1960 dollars compared to today.

    I first recognized in high school that high grades would help in getting a scholarship. I also worked summers to save over $1000 for my future college education. I had $750 in small scholarships. I attended Oregon for a five year degree program, living on campus.

    I worked summers at various jobs averaging $3 per hr. averaging 50 hrs. per week of work-farm work, logging, grocery store, Eugene Planning Department.

    During school I worked approximately ten hrs. per week at Erb Center, Mac Court, etc for events, and at Soil Conservation Service mapping survey data. During long school vacations I also worked. On average I made between $3800 to $4200 per year which covered all my expenses and a little more, and I even had a beetle for transportation. I just didn’t have a Starbuck habit, a 25 cent coffee was fine. My life was frugal but we sure had fun, but studied hard and long, and worked.

    Today, using the same hours worked and similar circumstances, the net result would be this: 50 hrs/ week for 3 1/2 months of summer work at $10/hr=$7000; 8 months working part-time during school at ten hrs. per week at $10/hr.=$3200; scholarships for keeping grades at a reasonable level=$2500. Total effort =$12,700.

    Notice that total work weeks gives two weeks free for goof-off time, a cold, or time between work. And notice it isn’t including parents, relative help which now is the norm.

    The $12,700 total is skimpy for a college education in Oregon, but it is doable, especially if you can get some of your college credits satisfied in high school (which we couldn’t in the 60s), or community colleges which we didn’t have in all parts of state in the 60s.

    Just do it and quite asking for a free handout. College education isn’t a right-yet.

    • eagle eye

      Lee, I can’t believe you posted this. It makes my point beautifully.

      Let’s take this excerpt, You say in the “late sixties” (I’ll take 1968) you worked for $3/hr. and

      “On average I made between $3800 to $4200 per year which covered all my expenses and a little more,”

      Now, if I compare the consumer price index for April 2008 with April 1968, I find that prices are higher by a factor of 6.5 So multiply your approximately $4000/yr by 6.5 and you get $27K.

      You say today’s student could make $12,700 working at $10/hr. In the first place, $10/hr. isn’t that easy to find. Second, it is hard to see how $12,700 will pay for year-round room and board + tuition + fees + books even at an Oregon public university. It can be done, but forget about your beetle, and better be ready for some dumpster work.

      One other thing: in your day, the state paid for most of the cost of college. Today, most of it is paid for by tuition. You were the ones who got the big handout, not today’s students.

      All in all, I’d say you had it really easy.

    • Larry

      Thank you for speaking truth and reality, Lee.

      EE writes: “Times have changed. It used to be you could work your way through college with a summer job and part time work during school. That would be a tall order now.”

      Times have changed. If you are serious, in high school you can gain enough college credits to gain Sophomore status by winter term of your Freshman year. That is two full terms that you did not have to pay tuition or living expenses for.

      Although Lee’s budget might not cover four years at OSU or UO, it would cover most of the costs. The rest could be covered by personal debts. Or the student could take a year off in between Sophomore and Junior years and work full time. Both would show personal committment to their goals of a higher education instead of demanding more money for their schooling from somebody elses pocketbook.

      • eagle eye

        Some reality, as Lee’s preposterous figuring shows.

        If I take the UO website figures for school-year room, board, tuition, and fees and adjust room and board to a full year, not 8 months, I get about $19,500/yr. So that leaves about $7000/yr. Of course, that assumes Lee’s scholarship, which may be a little doubtful, but let’s forget that.

        So the student ends up with about $30K in debt if graduation takes place after 4 years (a fairly unusual occurrence). Not a disaster, but nothing to take lightly.

        Or, take a year off to work. Probably more like 2.

        Wasn’t Larson’s piece about avoiding debt and/or taking more than 4 years to graduate?

        Obviously, students can still go to college — they still are — but the fact is that it’s much harder to finance now than when these geezers were going to school.

        I still have to laugh about Lars Larson talking about graduating in 4 years, when he himself dropped out after a year!

    • Anonymous

      You were also much better off. Besides you didn’t have time to interfere in others lives by being an activist.

  • Rick Hickey

    Add up the costs of Taxpayers funding Illegal aliens to go to College as well and Headstart.
    Many states have correctly interpreted Fed law to not allow Illegals to get in-state reduced tuition, but not Oregon leaders.
    In fact Chemeketa just passed a $90+ million bond and has raised tuition every year, but they can afford to waste 5 good paying jobs as “Multi-Cultural” center employees. And they are not multi, it is all about Che Gueverra and Mexico.
    This is another glaring omission in figuring why College costs are thru the roof and why again Americans are paying more and more to babysit the 3rd world, without even being asked first.
    How many of you know of the C.A.M.P. program? This is where YOU pay for 80 @ Chem. and 20 @ OSU Illegals (just in Or., this is nationwide) to not only get “free” tuition but Books, Tutoring, Dorm room, Medical & Dental insurance.

    With all these “free” handouts the kids have no will to work and be independent and responsible, just as the Socialist Democrats want. Yes we will give you everything “free”, just give us your paycheck if you decide to work though.

    Don’t get me started on Bilingual and Headstart, which is tens of millions more in wasted time, money and OUR Children’s future needs.
    Only because so many of you allow YOUR government to get away with this.

    And Beth Slovic is the writer who is so sympathetic to the plight of the educational needs of illegals, persons who are not supposed to have a job here.

  • dean

    It will be of no help to him, but I’m totally with Eagle Eye on this. Those of you talking about “back in the day” seem to have no clue as to how much your tuition was subsidized by taxpayers compared with today’s tuition. It isn’t even close, especially in Oregon.

    My son is presently attending University of Montana. He did all the right things. Was in an IB program at Cleveland in Portland and earned 16 hours college credit. Worked the summer before college and saved. Won a partial scholarship (taxpayer supported). And still, his costs are $14,000-16000 a year. He has a work-study job (taxpayer supported) and has a full time summer job at $8.50 and hour. A $10 and hour job for an unskilled 19 year old would be very hard to find.

    With his scholarship his college costs and living expenses are LESS than they would be at UO or OSU.

    Lastly….hard to swallow this but we all benefit by having en educated populace. Less crime, more self-sufficent people, better doctors to treat us, teachers to teach our kids, and so forth. New and upcoming industries also located where there are educated people, not where the dregs live. We are in this boat together my conservative friends. And the boat costs money to maintain.

    • Jerry

      Dean – No one is stopping you from sending some money to a college or to the state to help these many students in need. Why don’t you step up to the plate and help?????? Send it in now. Please.

    • Kerrie

      “It will be of no help to him, but I’m totally with Eagle Eye on this.”

      Like Rev Wright helped out Obama….
      Like Bill helped out Hillary….
      Like Bush helps McCain….

      Like dean helping eagle eye….

      Two edu mavens in a sea of realists. Escape reality and go back to your ivory towers.

      • eagle eye

        Kerrie, of course I appreciate the flattering comparison to obama, hillary, and mccain, though I think more highly of dean’s help than you do.

        Do you actually have anything of substance to say in reply to what I wrote. For example, do you find any fault with my quantitative comparison of wages then and now? Or is it all jibes about who is out of touch with reality and the like?

    • Joanne Rigutto

      Hey Dean,exactly who are you calling ‘dregs’? People who didn’t go to college?

      If those are the people you’re calling dregs, please try to remember that your very profession – landscape architect – depends on people who very likely were not educated in college – the people doing the planting, earth moving, plumbing, etc.. And a lot of people who might use your professional services as a landscape architect in the residential sector are probably not college educated. You don’t have to have gone to college to be well educated or well off financially. You do have to go to college to be able to enter into some professions, and for those people I applaud your entry into college, especially if you’re going into medicine, be it human or veterinary, engineering, be it mechanical, biological, chemical, or any other profession that requires a college education and which allows our technologicaly dependant society to function.

      The big problem I have is that for quite some time, college has been the be all and end all to enable people to climb the various ladders in society both economic and cultural. I hate to say it, but sometimes college isn’t the right choice for a person to make.

      I know a gal who went to college for 4 years. Not because she wanted to study and learn in a field that required college, but because everyone, including her parents, said ‘You have to go to college when you graduate high school’. Then her husband talked her into going to Lewis and Clark law school. She was able to do that for 1 year, then dropped out. Her total debt for 5 years of college was around $70,000. She works in collections for a large bank making very little money, she will probably not get the debt paid off before retirement, she and her husband declared bankrupcy due to some poor business decisions, but the student loans for college that she got are all federally garaunteed and so exempt from a bankrupcy judgement. She will probably never be able to own a site built house on her own, last I heard she lived in a single wide in a trailer park, because she has this huge debt to pay off. But hey, she did go to college. She once told me I was the smart one to have not gone to college, having made other plans to implement after highschool graduation.

      I know another gal who went to college and came out with a degree in foreign relations. This woman is incredibly smart, soaks up new languages like a sponge soaks up water, spoke at least 7 languages fluently last I saw her, and has spent lots of time out of country. She was a participant in the student foreign exchange program in high school, and even did her junior year in college at the University of Sweden at Lund. I figured she realy had it made and with the level of international trade even in 1985 when she graduated, that she would be able to get a job somewhere in the Portland or Seattle areas. So did she, but when she started looking for a job she said her best bet was to go to NY and work for the UN or to go to Washington DC and work for the federal government. She could also have probably gone to work for the CIA doing surveillance work – there’s a lot that CIA does as far as surveillance and intelligence gathering that has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of cloak and dagger work and knowing lots of different languages and being familiar with various cultures is incredibly helpful in this type of work. Last I heard from her, she was looking for a job as she had some pretty substantial debt to start paying off and she hadn’t decided whether she was going to move back east. She didn’t want to, but if she was going to work in the profession she had chosen, and which she loved dearly, she knew that that was what she was going to have to do.

      So there are two examples of college grads with large debts to pay off. One, just for something to do, the other for all the right reasons but who wasn’t informed about the job situation in her chosen profession. I think people need to be more reasonable about both going to college and promoting college attendance/education. If I had gone out as a new high school grad and taken out a $50,000 loan to buy a sports car, just because I liked sports cars and wanted something fancy to drive, people would have called me a loon, but to blow that kind of money on going to school either for something that will not help me in my work, or to go to college for no other reason but to ‘go to college’, well that’s OK, that’s a fine idea.

      Me, I went to work right out of the starting gate. After a couple of false starts in the photography and art businesses, I joined the Bricklayers and Allied Crafts Local #1, did two apprenticeships that the journeymen of the local paid for, got the construction equivelant of a college education and am now making excellent money working what ever hours I damn well please and doing what I want to in business for myself. My payment to the local for my education was to work for union shops for the tem of my education or if I chose to leave the local I had to pay the tuition back to the journeymen members who had paid it for me. A fair trade in my opinion.

      The most important thing that my parents, my mother in particular, did for me when I graduated from high school was not to ask what college I wanted to go to, college was absolutely an option and one that I think my dad quietly wanted me to choose, but what I wanted to do with my life and how I thought I’d support myself. She concentrated on what skills and talents I had and then we looked at options to take advantage of them and use them to determine what profession(s) I would persue. We also looked at the financial prospects that those preferred professions offered. We essentially made a cost-bennefit analysis. I had a small scholarship to a fancy art college in California but chose ultimately not to take advantage of it. That was because I didn’t think, even though my folks would have paid the rest of my way, and I could probably have gotten other schollarship and grant money to help out, that the bennifits out weighed the costs. I don’t see that happening as much as I’d like.

      • dean

        Joanne….”dregs” was a poor choice of words, and you are right to call me on it. I was trying to point out that much of the new economy is high tech or high skill, and companies who pay well are locating in places like Portland and Seattle that have educated, young talent. There is a great book by an economist at U Montana, Thomas Powers, that is about business following talent that follows communities that are nice places to live. Richard Florida, another economist also tracks and has written of this.

        Very true that college is not for everyone, and I would go farther to say there are people who are much better “educated” than many of us who have degrees. A case in point is my former music teacher. He never went to college, but is self educated in music to the point where he knows more than just about anyone about the broad sweep of music history and theory. And he can play darn near anything. He does not make a lot of money but loves what he does.

        I was a very slow starter in college, having grown up blue collar Greek immigrant stock. I had no real idea why I was there or what I was supposed to study, other than a vague notion of eventually becoming a lawyer, which was the only profession other than accountant or doctor my family knew anything about. I was mostly a “dumb jock” to tell the truth, playing sports and not hitting the books. But after a few years I found things that interested me, settled on my career and have been happy with my choice. I did go to school at a time when it was cheap, worked the whole time I was there, and graduated with zero debts. Today’s students cannot do this with today’s tuition rates, even if they work much harder than I did.

        Europe has a much more selective system for who gets to go to college, and once you are in you get a full ride. No tuition, no debts. And they have very good technical/trade schools for the non-college bound. We could go that route, but it makes life difficult for the late bloomers.

        No matter how we slice it, we can’t end up with 100% of us with college educations that lead to profesional jobs or careers. Some number is going to do skilled trade work, like yourself (and my carpenter friend who also has a degree in child psychology). Others are going to work at lesser skilled jobs, from barrista to waiting tables to changing bed linens. In my ideal world, all jobs beyond entry level would pay a living wage. 70-80% of American jobs cannot be off-shored, and these need to pay better if we are ever going to reduce poverty rates here at home.

        It is in our interests to support affordable higher education. It is also in our interest to support higher wages and benefits at the bottom. Call me a liberal.

        • Anonymous

          Actually it’s more in our interest to teach our children it isn’t handed to them on a silver platter and furthermore that money does not grow on trees.

      • sybella

        I also did not go to college, but worked hard, used my head, and am making an exceptionally good living. I have a high school education, The only thing I missed by not going to college was the ability to handle myself around people. i believe I would have learned a lot. But then who cares. I make a good living. I also didn’t go into debt to get where I am.

      • eagle eye

        So it sounds like you got yourself a soft deal with the help of the hated unions. You’re not ranting about the lazy college students, like some people here, and I’m not criticizing you for it, but a great deal it is, better than most college students can get.

        • Joanne Rigutto

          ‘So it sounds like you got yourself a soft deal with the help of the hated unions. You’re not ranting about the lazy college students, like some people here, and I’m not criticizing you for it, but a great deal it is, better than most college students can get.’
          – Eagle Eye

          I wouldn’t say that what I got was a soft deal. I was essentially endentured to the union contractors for 10 years. My other option for paying back my education, was to pay the tuition that the journeymen in the union paid to Mt. Hood Community College, where the classes were held, if I wanted to leave the union and work in the trades in open shops for the rest of the 10 years after I had left. I decided to stay and serve my period of endenture. Anyone who has ever worked as an apprentice tile setter in commercial work will tell you it’s anything but a ‘soft deal’. Try unloading pallets of 50# bags of mortar, running a mixer where you have to load the thing with 160# of sand and 50# cement every 15 minutes each day. It’s a lot of work. It’s not a soft job.

          I used to have people, both men and women, ask me what was required of someone doing my kind of work. I’d tell them that they had to be able to lift 96# bags of cement off the ground all day long if necessary, and they needed to be able to work off of scaffolding 200 feet or more off the ground comfortably. Just climbing 200 feet up a scaffold ladder is work….. I know, I’ve done it. Makes me thankful for construction elevators.

          I would say, having talked to a lot of people who don’t know what’s involved in serving a formal apprenticeship in any of the building trades, that having done so, I’m generally held in less esteme than someon with a bachelor’s degree in any field, no matter how mundane or useless that degree might be.

          Just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover……

          • eagle eye

            A soft deal, as I put it? Or a fair trade, as you said? I don’t know if it really matters. (I did plenty of the kind of work you’re talking about when I went through school, and before I started.)

            I would still say you had an easier deal than a good many students working their way through college these days.

            And I would still note that without the hated unions, it might not have been available.

  • Lee

    Dean and Eagle Eye: I know of many jobs that pays $10 and even better. Dean, you should know that many landscape firms and nursery companies pay over $10 per hr., if you work earnestly and willing to work more than 8 hrs. a day and some weekends. That’s how you can even exceed the $12,700 I totaled above. Working at a grocery store like Freds will pay over $12/hr. A greenhorn helper on a construction site doing cleanup, hauling lumber pays from $12 to $15 per hr. A college friend of mine will get paid $12 per hr. for helping a tile-setter this summer, and he’s never worked in the trade. I pay from $10 to $15 per hr. to even get high school kids to mow lawns or trim bushes/trees, etc.; but they have to work.

    I was being fair and conservative in my above post. A college degree is possible if one wants it, plans for it, and works for it- when you don’t wait for a handout. Sorry to be “back in the days”, but having perspective is appropriate and we need more of it.

    • eagle eye

      Lee, it’s fine that you pay this well, but it likely won’t help you if you’re a student in Eugene or Corvallis or Ashland trying to work part time during the school year. Construction labor is fine — I’ve done my share — but for the 60% of the students who are female, it’s usually not an option, and not for the guys either if there are no local openings.

      You still haven’t told us how to match your late sixties $3 hr job with something that pays comparably today i.e. $21/hr.

  • Lee

    Eagle Eye: as I wrote, I averaged the hourly wages back in the late 60’s (65 thru 1970) for expediency. I mowed a neighbors lawn for 1 hr and got paid $2. The grocery store paid $2.25 to $2.50 as time passed. Soil Conservation Service paid $2.75. Farm work paid from $2.25 for hoeing, bucking hay, to $2.75 for running machinery. Logging paid from $3.00 per hr for the first year, and by the fourth year I was paid $4. UofO paid from $2.25 to $2.50 over a five year period. Today, you can get $16 to $24 for setting chokers and higher for other logging tasks.

    All of these dollar values of the late 60s times your 6.0 factor comes out close to what one can get today. I’m still saying its tough to get a college education like it was in the late 60’s, but it is possible. If it is a little tougher to make the money for today’s cost, then I would work just a little harder and more. It’s worth it.

    And something else, several of my close friends are not college graduates, but are several times millionaires. They work hard, have positive attitudes, and enjoy life. Two of them are dyslexic and one also has a learning disability.

    • R.A.

      There’s barely any logging industry left, and the jobs that are available are not generally available to college students on a part-time or seasonal basis. Most jobs for college students are minimum wage. The students I know who make the most money do it under the table, and I’m sure your solution to college funding isn’t to condone tax evasion.

      I am a Junior at OSU, have worked during school every year but my first two, and entered with almost a full term’s worth of AP credits and have earned a few thousand dollars in scholarships, and I will still leave school with significant debt. As Tuition has gone up, student fees have gone WAY up (I pay almost 500 dollars per term in student fees alone), text book prices have gone up significantly, and housing and food are more expensive. I will also be unable to leave school in 4 years. Because in addition to school and work, I am engaged in the local and state political process, both through the Republican Party and as a writer for a conservative campus publication.

      Alot of the folks on this board have vast misconceptions about what college is like, seeing as its been 20-40 years since many of them have attended. I agree that whining is annoying and pointless, but telling college students to suck it up, while continuing to elect lawmakers who very obviously do not care about higher education (and continue to slash away at HE’s budget) is wrong and insulting. For those of you who attended OSU back in the day, please know that the State paid a much larger percentage of your educational costs then they do mine. I have simply come to terms with the fact that when I graduate, I will be in debt, and will be more so after I finish either my law or master’s program. But you don’t hear me whining.

      A college education is very important in the modern economy, and those who succeed without one are decidedly the exception, as opposed to the rule. Furthermore, Lars’ insinuation that higher education should simply be a means to an employment oriented end is counterintuitive to the reason we have universities and not a rash of trade schools: to learn. Knowledge, and specifically learning how to reason, analyze, and articulate, skills taught mainly in the humanities programs which Lars seems to imply are inferior to professional programs such as business. Learning and the ability to learn, to know, to understand, is in and of itself an inherent benefit to any society, high tech or otherwise. An intellectually equipped community is able to grow and prosper much more than the societies of the dark ages.

      This is not to suggest that everyone should be college educated, because I met people in high school who simply would have been unable to succeed in a college environment. Nor am I suggesting that more taxes are needed. I am suggesting that lawmakers start caring about higher ed again, that students such as myself hush up and accept student loan debt as the cost of doing business, and that the “old timers” should stop acting like they are so much better because they put themselves through school in 4 years. They should try doing it today. Times have changed.

      • eagle eye

        Way to tell the geriatrics! And I note that you say:

        “am engaged in the local and state political process, both through the Republican Party and as a writer for a conservative campus publication.”

        Interesting, Republican and conservative. I cringe for both when I read the stuff posted here. I can’t imagine this stuff having much appeal for many college students. No wonder Obama is on a roll.

        I do have a question for you. You say:

        “Nor am I suggesting that more taxes are needed. I am suggesting that lawmakers start caring about higher ed again,”

        What exactly do you have in mind? What does “caring” mean? More money? If not from unneeded taxes, where precisely?

        • R.A.

          My first suggestion would be cuts on some of the inflated social-welfare programs we run in this state. State government has plenty of money, what it lacks is foresight. Social welfare is a vote getter for incumbents, left and right, and thus it gets priority. Higher education isn’t as much a draw, because most of its immediate beneficiaries are either the students, who by and large don’t vote, or the staff, who by and large vote exclusively Dem. State government needs to be about doing what is right for the state, not what draws the votes. A robust system of higher education is part of building a solid economy (assuming you can get your grads to stay), and thus in the people’s best interest. But a lot of people, just like more than a lot of state government, lack the foresight to see beyond what feels good right now.

      • dmf

        that’s ok, in just a few short years we’ll all be making $30 dollars and hour and that will be minimum wage.

        Yes you can do it if you want. A little elbow grease goes a long way

  • Jerry

    Lee forgot to point out, too, that there are far, far more opportunities for scholarships today than there were 30-40 years ago. Trust me on that. Almost any student can get multiple scholarships if they work on obtaining them. Very few students go to college anymore without some sort of financial aid beyond a loan.

    You have to work at obtaining them, though, which is hard for many to do, as work is not fun.

    I think the stories above prove the point – if you want to go to college, go, but take the responsibility to figure it all out. The first two years for ANYONE short on cash should be at a community college. In Oregon, the “four year” colleges must accept those community college credits. They are every bit as valuable as anything the “four years” are doing and can be obtained for a fraction of the cost.

    I always use quote marks around “four year” as it seems accepted these days that no one can actually graduate in four years. I wonder why that is.

    I pumped gas in college for two years – every Friday from mid-afternoon to closing at 11:00 PM and all day Sunday from opening in the morning to closing at night around 9:00 PM. I graduated early by taking extra classes each quarter.

    Things that you really want to do can be done, without excuses and laments. Just do it!

    • dean

      Jerry…sorry, but personal anecdotes don’t “prove” anything. Public college is less affordable statistically than it was when we were youngins. Telling young people today to “just work harder” is not an answer. I have multiple students at U Oregon graduating with debts of $70K plus. I think some of them made bad choices, but that does not mean one making a bad choice in youth should be punished for life.

      We elders enjoyed tax supported tuition and college expenses, and then we chose to cut our tax contributions for higher ed down to bare bones levels. Shame on us.

      • Jerry

        Shame on the democrats who have allowed this to happen. Dems are in charge in Oregon, are they not? How, then, on their watch, can college be less affordable than it was for us?

        Something seems very wrong here with the dems.

        PS – I did go to a land grant college in Ohio, so tuition was quite reasonable. I wonder how it all got so changed around?

        • dean

          Jerry…the Dems did not bring us 2 property tax limitations that shifted the responsibility of funding K-12 education to the state budget without providing any additional funds for same. One of the consequences has been a steady erosion of support for higher ed. And Republicans held the state house and senate for a number of years in the 90s and beyond.

          It got changed around by the “tax revolt” Jerry, of which I presume you are part of. Who “granted” your land grant college? Oh…that nasty government again.

          • Steve Plunk

            Dean, I thought we were talking about college not K-12? How can college costs be related? How can cuts drive up costs faster than inflation? In fact no one will confront that issue head on. Why are costs rising faster than inflation? Where is the money going?

          • Chris McMullen

            The resident Marxist will answer with his usual straw men and obfuscation…

            Funny. if K-12 is hurting so badly, why has it not suffered a budget cut in the past 25 years?

          • Jerry

            No, the people brought us that. Funny how that works.

      • dian

        sorry dean, but personal anecdotes are real life happenings and yes they say a lot more than your statistics

    • eagle eye

      Jerry,if you were really able to put yourself through college pumping gas about two days a week, you had it easy and you were really lucky. It just can’t be done that way these days.

  • Dave A.

    I noticed Joanne was one of the few people that brought up the poor career choices that some college graduates make. Nothing like running up $50-60K in college loan debt for an English or Film major only to discover that the only jobs hiring are at the local bookstore or art museum shop at minimum wage. Guess how many decades it will take to pay that loan off?
    And let’s not forget the parents that allow their own kids to make such poor choices. Where are they?

  • Lee

    Eagle Eye: Let’s not be sexist. If a woman wants to get a construction job, there are many companies that want to hire for several job types. I know of women flaggers making $14 to $18 at starting wages. Operators of small equipment are making $18 to $25 per hr., starting. A friends daughter who went through OSU Construction Management program every summer had summer jobs in construction making $18 to $26 in today’s equivalent dollars. She is now a construction supervisor. Women can get jobs in the landscaping world too.

    Recently a friend in Washington paid $25/hr. for three illegals to weed out the garden. Why can’t a college student do the same?

    I know, citing examples is no proof to some, but saying “statistically” without any source is not proof either.

    • eagle eye

      OK, maybe a lot of weekend jobs for female student flaggers will open up near UO. Female landscapers too. Maybe there are a lot of part-time $25/hr weeding jobs in Eugene and Corvallis, enough for 20,000 students to work their way through college. What I hear is that it’s hard to find part-time or summer work. There are plenty of students eking out a living, no doubt about it. What I will say for sure is that it’s a lot harder than when you and I did it.

      • dean

        Oregon wage rates are available at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_OR.htm

        The types of jobs unskilled college students could fill:

        Food prep: $9-11 per hour
        Landscaping: $11 per hour
        Maids/housecleaning: $9 per hour
        Janitors: $10-11
        Animal caretakers: $9-10
        Ticket takers” $9
        Cashiers: $9-10
        Retail sales: $10-12
        Tellers: $11
        Hotel/motel desks: $9
        Farmworkers: $8-11
        Contruction labor: $14-15
        Roofer helpers; $11-12
        Assembly: $10-15
        And so forth….

        From perusing the list and thinking about what my own 19 year old is capable of, a young adult can expect to earn $18-22K per year full time. At 1/2 time that comes to $9-11K. Tuition and living expenses are probably going to be around $20K unless one is living at home.

        When I was in undergraduate school in the 70s the wage rate was around $3 per hour, or $3K per year 1/2 time. Tuition was about $500 per year in state. One could rent a room in a house, pay utilities and buy groceries for maybe $150 a month, or $1800 a year. So at half time I was able to save money. Today, a student would be $10K in the hole each and every year.

  • Larry

    Let me be sexist like eagle eye and dean…
    …food prep? …why bother.

    Are there any brew pubs in college towns? How about popular bars? Maybe a few restaurants?

    A good female cocktail waitress can make $30-40 bucks an hour for just the four to five hour night shifts of Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

    And at a fine restaurant one can get the same for a male waiter who can pronounce “brook trout almandine, with a light bernaise sauce… goes well with a fine Pinot Gris”.

    Stop you belly aching, eagle eye and dean. You both have exposed yourselves as whiny little moaners. Have some Brie with that whine…

    • dean

      Larry…I have never developed a taste for Brie, and prefer hearty reds. But thanks for the thought.

      I teach part-tme at U Oregon and am familiar with Eugene’s offerings. My experience is it is more of a taco, pizza, and beer sort of town. There are few fine dining establishments, and fewer high rolling tippers. Corvallis seems even more so this way.

      But yes…some students can and do find ways to earn more. Others have wealthy families or trust funds. The majority are from middle class families with limited means, and the pay scale for unskilled work is just not that great, as my citation demonstrates.

      By the way, according to the Project on Student debt (wouldn’t you know there would be one) Oregon students graduate with an average debt of $19,667, which ranks 20th highest in the nation. 67% of students graduate with debt, 8th highest rate in the nation.

      For the record, I am just under 6 foot 2, and just over 200 pounds. I may be a whiny moaner, but I am not little.

  • Larry

    You may be littler than me, but your whining dwarfs me. You are the Sumo Wrestler of whiners.

    Debt motivation works well also. And the students will be a bit more focused (and a bit less hung over) on Friday morning classes.

    I am not saying that students don’t have it hard today. They do. As did we have it hard back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. As will the students have it hard in the 2020s and ’30s.

    Life is hard. Accept it.

    Memo to R.A.:

    Keep your whining to yourself. You will never get hired at Microsoft, Apple or Google (and certainly never at a start up) with major league whining.

    When you say:
    “For those of you who attended OSU back in the day, please know that the State paid a much larger percentage of your educational costs then they do mine.”

    I would call that whining. Woe is me! But maybe I am wrong.

    “I have simply come to terms with the fact that when I graduate, I will be in debt, and will be more so after I finish either my law or master’s program.”

    Bravo! That $100+K debt will drive you to succeed. And it will be paid off in no time, if you are focused and driven. But only follow people’s advice who have proved themselves successful (by your definition). I doubt that dean and eagle eye have achieved the success that you are looking for, but I may be wrong. Find a mentor and conquer the world. Corvallis needs another CH2M Hill or another Resers Corp.

    “But you don’t hear me whining.”

    Glad to not hear it. Eagle Eye and dean will gladly make up for your lack of whining. Good Luck. Go Beavs.

    • dean

      For Steve P up above…when Oregon taxpayers decided to shift K-12 schooling costs to the state budget, it resulted in a steady increase in tuition, room and board, and fees that state universities and community colleges charge their students. It is not related to other aspects of college inflation.

      I should note that Oregon professors are at or near the bottom of the pack nationally in pay scale, so the problem is not over paying the teachers in this case.

      Larry…I think your theory on debt motivation, if we can call it a theory, is pure bunkum. Debt is an albatross, not a motivation. If it were the latter then all of us fellow Americans would be working frantically to pay off what we owe the Chinese.

    • eagle eye

      Larry, I have nothing much to whine about, having had a very successful career and being financially independent. Any complaints I may have are nothing compared to the constant whining about the government that I read here (in the hopes of finding something positive in Oregon conservative or libertarian opinion, something that might actually catalyze something).

      I will tell you, though, you are wrong about how it is for the students today. It was much easier back when you were a student, and when I was one.

  • Larry

    Eagle eye and dean are both parasites feasting on the tax payers’ blood.

    What, financial independence via your PERS package?

    You both are only idiotic liberal trolls lost in this conservative part of town, who enjoy spewing your idiotic liberal rantings to an audience who either laugh at your nonsense or get provoked by your stupidity. Put me in the former camp.

    Most villages have only one; but we here are blessed with two!

    • eagle eye

      Larry, you are exhibit #1 of why what passes for conservatism in Oregon is going down the toilet.

    • UO science student

      Eagle Eye I don’t even know if you are a professor or a state employee, but don’t take this stuff too seriously. You present data, you presented a very informative graph with an analysis of higher education costs above. You make rational arguments. How anyone could think you are a liberal or a troll is way beyond me. You are probably right about the prospects for conservatism in Oregon. I know almost nobody in school who would find the stuff here very attractive. These guys seem to hate everything connected with schooling, students, professors. If anyone is a troll, they are.

      • eagle eye

        science student, thanks for the kind words — ee

        • dean

          I am a liberal. Some of my best friends are liberals. I have read Eagle Eye’s posts, and he is no liberal. He is merely sensible. Unfortunately sensible comes across as liberal to ideologues because at times it contradicts their dogma.

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