How much is an education worth?

18 Feb

Recently Word Stumpet linked on Twitter to the Yahoo article: The $555,000 Student-Loan Burden . I have had several conversations on this topic over the last year, in due to no small part of children entering college and knowing resident and fellows with large debts. Particularly so if they are a couple or have gone back to medical school years after graduating.

My alma mater is Rice University. Rice has moved from being known as a scientific/engineering school to a well balanced university with strong humanities, liberal arts and fine arts as well as other programs. It currently runs $45,000.00 to $50,000.00 per year, and that is considered one of the best buys for its ranking. Over 4 years that is $200K. Where is all this money going?

If one was to get say 120 students to pay $1000 to hire a lecture and rent a hotel hall that would be $120K. It seem that one could find plenty of qualified lectures who would get $80K per year for 3+ hours of lectures and study/review sessions 2/3rd of the year. Five courses per semester would be $10K/year; still not cheap but less than most major universities. Is their overhead really that high? I get the impression that Universities have been adding on more non-essential features to enhance the experience and subsidized loans have removed the incentive to keep cost down.

Rice does have an option for those family whose income can’t possible meet the expense. From their website: Rice Financial Aid

Starting with the 09-10 freshman class, Rice will no longer award loans to students whose family income is below $80,000. All of these students’ financial need will be met through a combination of grants, work-study, merit aid (if qualified) and institutional funds.

In other words, they will work out a program where there is essentially no tuition at all. Almost makes me want to quit my job.

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