Your editorial is on target and shouldn't be limited only to exposing the weaknesses of traditional four-year institutions. In the trade-school industry, priorities are often misplaced because of the level of student aid schools receive. As a result, the focus becomes on managing the government bureaucracy behemoth and not on the quality of the instruction or the student experience. Working in that kind of environment led me to a radical decision to launch a welding school that, like the widely lauded Hillsdale College, is entirely free from federal student loans. As a result, we can spend 65% of our expenses on the welding laboratory and instruction team and not on administrative bloat. This approach keeps our costs at one-third of similar programs that market financial aid services. Where else can you learn a trade for only $8,000 that will make you incredibly marketable in an economy begging for skills? In an era where the average college graduate faces $28,000 in debt as he or she begins a career, our graduates report they have earned back their educational investment in a single quarter.
Something to think about there, now. Leave the feds out of the loop and you end up with a better product and at a lower price. I don't know how much monkey business the college where I'm employed has to deal with to satisfy the federal requirements but I know that I have to report active enrollment and a few other things in a timely fashion for the purposes of federal reporting. I also know that the college is on the hook for repaying a substantial amount of money due to students leaving school early after using up their financial aid money. That has to drive the cost of tuition up.
President Obama tossed out the idea of free community college tuition but I'm sure even he realizes that's not a workable idea during his time in office. However, when you plant the idea to a bunch of people already in debt for their education, it's probably good for a few votes down the road. Of course, people with a debt load of $28,000 really can't afford to be paying more in taxes to pay for someone else's college education, now can they? Especially when you look at some of the interest rates they're paying. You can get a car loan these days for 2.5% but you're saddled with a student loan at 7.5%? Two major economic principles at work here - opportunity cost and compound interest. Always need to keep those two in mind before signing on the dotted line.
There's a welding school out in the country that I see a sign for when I'm out that way. I should check it out while I'm on vacation. I would assume it's a private school/cash and carry deal. Must be doing something right, they've now got a second sign on another state highway.
Bottom line here? Get a job, save your money, go to trade school, get a better job, live debt free happily ever after.