Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tone Deaf at the U of M?

Rising Temperature

As a result of all this, we now have a reading of the American political temperature.  What we've learned is that it's burning a lot hotter at the grass roots than either party's leadership seems capable of understanding.
The Talk of the Town at p. 35 of the February 8, 2016 issue of The New Yorker magazine.

I'm not going to tell [my children] that college will eventually become affordable without a political revolution to change this ghastly situation. . . . I'm not because it's delusional to believe otherwise.
Letter to the Editor in the February 5, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.

The high tuition high financial aid experiment has failed a vast  majority of students and their parents.  In 2014 65% of U of M graduates had student debt.  The median debt was $24,728.  Then there is the unconscionable economic burden placed on students in the professional schools.  In 2014 88% of the graduates from the U of M professional schools had student loan debt.  The median debt was $152,793.  See pp. 15, 21 of the October 2015 Minnesota Higher Education Report on Cumulative Student Loan Debt in Minnesota.

Tone deaf remarks about student loan debt ("less than a new car") by the U of M president and the 2014 chair of the Board of Regents demonstrate a failure to acknowledge the overall cost of a college education and a remarkable lack of empathy for the students and parents struggling to pay that cost. 

The senior administrators and the Regents responsible for a decade of skyrocketing tuition in 2002--2012 never had to deal with that financial burden when they were starting their careers and their families after graduation.  How much different would their lives have been if they had been shackled by student debt?

Just as the Wall Street bankers created a housing bubble using other people's money, the senior administrators and the Regents at the U of M have created a higher education bubble using both student loan debt and institutional debt.  When this budget balloon bursts, the senior administrators and the Regents will walk away unscathed just as the investment bankers did.  The students (and their parents) will suffer harm from the student loan debt that inflated the balloon.  They will be shackled with that debt for many years (or even decades for many students in the professional schools).  And the citizens of Minnesota will pick up the tab for the huge institutional debt.   

Michael W. McNabb

University of Minnesota B.A. 1971; J.D. 1974

University of Minnesota Alumni Association life member

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