August 22, 2013

Obama to colleges: Be more like Harvard

Can anybody figure out Obama's new college finance plan? I haven't seen anybody use any examples yet of which colleges will benefit and which ones will be hurt, so it's hazy so far. (I find it easier to reason productively from examples to abstract principles, but many people seem to think it's worthier to reason in the abstract about principles without muddying them up by using real world examples. This is especially true of American education policy.)

The New York Times editorializes in support of Obama's plan:
The basic idea is to give more student aid to colleges that admit more disadvantaged students, that show progress in lowering costs and raising scholarships, and that shepherd students to earn a degree. To measure that performance, the government would create a rating system to compare similar colleges, a potentially useful consumer tool that would also serve to shame institutions that do not measure up. 
The rating system would examine a college’s accessibility, looking at the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants; its affordability, tied to tuition, scholarships and financial aid; and its outcomes, based on graduation rates, advanced degrees and the salaries earned by graduates. Students would be required to show progress toward a degree before receiving continued aid, and schools would be rewarded for developing innovative programs to serve more students at lower costs. All student borrowers would have a cap on their loan payments of 10 percent of their monthly income, expanding the current system.

So, it sounds like under Obama's new system you'd get the most federal financial aid for going to Harvard. After all, Harvard has a nearly 100% graduation rate. With its endowment of $32,012,729,000, Harvard gives out lots and lots of financial aid (that's why its basketball team has gotten so good lately -- it can't give out athletic scholarships, per se, but it now gives out so much financial aid to high five figure and low six figure parents that it can now give a free ride to middle class black kids who happen to be extremely tall and good at dunking). And Harvard has many accomplished and well-paid graduates. (Just ask one and they'll tell you.) If Harvard feels motivated to get the smartest Pell Grant students in the country, well, Harvard will get the smartest Pell Grant students in the country.

In contrast, if you are just some loser who can only get into, I dunno, Tufts, well, don't expect as much help from the taxpayers as your betters at Harvard rake in. As the Lucky Jim principle says, there's no end to the way nice things are nicer than less nice things. So, why shouldn't the Obama Administration give Harvard students more aid than Tufts students?

So, is the Obama Administration's message to America's colleges: be more like Harvard?

Or am I totally using the wrong examples and this isn't about high-end schools at all, this is about crushing low-end for-profit colleges? I believe in the magic of the market and all that, but more than a few for-profit colleges just seem focused on getting gullible people with two-digit IQs to take out loans to take classes in fields where they aren't smart enough to make a career.

Any insights?

37 comments:

Education Realist said...

I thought it seemed completely unready for prime time, and I've seen others who think the same.

The whole plan is absurd.

To the extent it's supposed to hang together, I think Obama isn't even thinking of top tier schools. I think he's just focusing on the bottomfeeders and hasn't given a thought to how it would play out from a policy perspective. What he always does, in short.

Dave Pinsen said...

The for-profit schools have already gotten crushed by the stock market. Here, for example, is a 2-year chart for Strayer. Former GE CEO Jack Welch, incidentally, has lent his somewhat frayed reputation to Strayer.

Orlando said...

In those low end diploma mills, it´s high school curiculum rehashed sans teachers union and worst HS troublemakers. So they are more proficient in using taxpayers´ money for indoctricating stupid kids with cultural marxism.

Anonymous said...

If we're going to have them at all, Pell grants should be more generous, yet limited. It shouldn't be doled out equally to all students in all majors. That's why we have so many youngsters with useless degrees.

Whichever industry/agencies/departments that study the country's labor/educational needs should come up with how many graduates in what majors are needed. A concrete number of full grants should be available through competition by schools and students. Hypothetically, if the Labor Department determines that country only needs 1000 Communications graduates, there should be 100 grants available for competition. If you're not awarded a grant and still want to pursue communications, then you should pay out of pocket.

Sounds like too much potential for error and corruption? Me too, but as long as the grant system exists... minor errors and corruption is preferable to the system we have now or what is being suggested.

Basically, the only way to rein in college tuition rates is to force the majority of people to pay out of pocket, by taking away the easy money in financial aid and grants. Universities would be forced to lower rates or have a majority foreign student body...

Anonymous said...

Be more like community colleges AND like Harvard.

Scholarship Society... as if we haven't learned from ownership society.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Cantor

https://mises.org/daily/6509/Paul-Cantor-on-the-Technocratic-Elite-in-Popular-Culture#.UhNm9y5YGCA.twitter

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/Qr1yBzJ4tf8

Commerce and Culture, Lecture 1: The Economic Basis of Culture

Rex Little said...

more than a few for-profit colleges just seems focused on getting gullible people with two-digit IQs to take out loans to take classes in fields where they aren't smart enough to make a career.

Ouch, that shot hit home! My kid (2-digit IQ, and the first digit isn't a 9) went to one of those schools. Fortunately he flunked out before the full tuition was due.

Anonymous said...

"How many Hollywood stars rely on steroids to get their buff bodies? 'Up to 20 percent' of leading men are using PED's claims new report"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2400714/How-Hollywood-stars-rely-steroids-buff-bodies-Up-20-percent-leading-men-using-PEDs-claims-new-report.html

"No longer the preserve of cheating athletes and fired-up body-builders, human growth hormone is now as common on the film sets of Hollywood as Botox and Restylane.

Indeed, veteran trainer Happy Hill, who helped Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Philippe bulk up for roles estimates that up to 20 percent of Tinsel-towns leading men are using performance enhancing drugs to get a buff body."

Anonymous said...

http://www.kxly.com/news/spokane-news/elderly-man-dies-after-being-attacked-outside-ice-arena/-/101214/21574858/-/9flm7iz/-/index.html

Obama's sons having fun and Tim Wise celebrating. One more dead old white guy.

Anonymous said...

http://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/mexican-bishop-calls-homophobia-a-mental-illness/

Gay cabal took over the church.

Anonymous said...

http://kennsvideos.blogspot.com/2013/08/white-veteran-88-beaten-to-death-by.html

David M. said...

I agree with Anonymous at 11:22 PM, that the only way to control tuition costs is to reduce financial aid and grant money. The limitation of payments to 10% of income is not going to make a difference so long as the loans are federally guaranteed and the interest still accrues - the money will still flow.

I think though that the 10% cap might work in other areas. I've often wondered whether a possible solution for health care would be to let consumers buy whatever health insurance plan they want, including none. Then those without insurance who required care they can't afford could then opt for a government line of credit (with interest). Their payments would be automatically withdrawn from their pay, but capped at 10% of income. I think we would find that there would suddenly be a lot more high deductible insurance plans costing less than 10% of income, and a lot more out-of-pocket payments for routine care.

Obviously this wouldn't work for senior citizens, but maybe for the rest of us.

Handle said...

"this is about crushing low-end for-profit colleges? ... more than a few for-profit colleges just seem focused on getting gullible people with two-digit IQs to take out loans to take classes in fields where they aren't smart enough to make a career."

This is it exactly. There was a opinion that the distinction between FP and NFP isn't legally sufficient, so they've got to make this index which purports to treat them equally and objectively and mimics the totality of the circumstances. I heard two radio stories about it before this announcement, so I've got to believe they've part of the 'media momentum-building' phase of the public communication strategy campaign. (You're right, it's all about marketing these days)

But there's a problem. This is about a law school but it illustrated the issue.

See - if you go after the basic fraud at the heart of American Higher Education (basically profiting off the socially-approved delusion that anything more than a fraction of people will actually be better off intellectually and financially after receiving their degree as opposed to wasting their time and not boosting their vocational marketability at all), then you'll start to catch a lot of favored fish in your dragnet. Like HBC's, for instance.

So you've got to build enough extra variables and wiggle room and flexibility and discretion into your formula so that, while it still passes judicial muster as 'objective' allows you to save these places.

So the process was 1. Go after fraudster for-profits, 2. Whoops, got to go after everybody, 3. Come up with a sensible, principled, logical formula that captures the evil we think the for-profits are perpetrating, 4. Whoops - there's more of that evil going around than we thought ... including from some people we like to think are good, so, 5. Come up with a formula that gives us wiggle room to protect good guys at the expense of simplicity or a logical basis on clear principles.

Jill said...

Oh my, now it's no college child left behind.

It's about time that college administrators and college professors knuckle under the weight of government regulation. They have no idea what they are in for.

The Southern California Institute of Law just lost it's First Amendment challenge to a requirement that it disclose the bar passage rate of its graduates.

Welcome back to America.

Anonymous said...

Or am I totally using the wrong examples and this isn't about high-end schools at all, this is about crushing low-end for-profit colleges? I believe in the magic of the market and all that, but more than a few for-profit colleges just seem focused on getting gullible people with two-digit IQs to take out loans to take classes in fields where they aren't smart enough to make a career.
The problem is there are good ones like ITT Technical Inst, and bad ones. Usually, the student loans for profit schools unless its ones that offer 4 year degrees is lower than most 4 year colleges these days. Obama and most state governments should spend more money on trade and vocational spending in High School or Community College less on getting 4 year degrees unless you have a kid that is a draftsmen who wants to be an engineer or a bookkeeper that wants to be an accountant. I recommend more transfer from 2 year to 4 year, the current system of liberal arts majors from any college is what is causing the debt problem.

Anonymous said...

The government should exit the student loan business just as it should exit the housing business (Fannie, Freddie, interest deductions on mortgages).

countenance said...

This plan does two things:

1. Shovels even more money through the veins of academia, which of course is basically a junior auxiliary of the Democrat Party

2. Disparately benefits Harvard Princeton Yale and HBCUs.

Exactly something Barack Obama would do.

What this plan does NOT do:

Address the concerns of college students that they'll be able to get good jobs and have the ability to afford to start families after graduation. That's something Obama wouldn't do, because, as the Sailer Correlation plainly states, the Republican Party at the Presidential level is the party of white adults who were/are/want to be involved in traditional nuclear families. If we make it easier for white people to start families, that means more votes for Republicans in future Presidential elections.

jody said...

when does obama ever provide details on his 'plans'. not only does he not have actual plans, just vague ideas, he's innumerate, and cannot do math.

speaking of that, does he ever show up on time for his own press conferences and speeches.

the idea that obama had even had the slightest bit to do with the bin laden raid plan was finally to put to rest this month after one of his own allies admitted that obama thought being commander in chief was too boring to even sit in the room for a few hours, and left to go play cards during the operation.

forced to be pulled off the golf course to watch it happen, then couldn't even be bothered with that and prefered to go play spades instead. does anybody think this guy could ever produce any kind of plan with any kind of details or numbers, beyond figuring out when the next NBA tipoff time was on ESPN?

also i like the idea that he's deciding who the next chairman of the federal reserve board should be, based on 'performance' or 'metrics' or 'economic principles' or anything other than his own random feelings about which jewish person would be better to appoint for his own personal political career. obama can't understand basic math so the idea that he actually comprehends the nuances of national finance and is picking based on that is preposterous.

Harry Baldwin said...

I think I heard Obama claim that student loans have had little or no effect on rising tuition costs, but that may have been the NPR spin. That's completely counter-intuitive to me.

One of the really bad ideas Obama keeps pushing is that everyone needs to go to college. Is it only because he wants them properly indoctrinated? I've seen statistics that something like 40 percent of the best-paying jobs require no college degree. My older daughter's husband is 30, has a master's degree in social work, and was fortunate to get a depressing job dealing with dysfunctional teens. My younger daughter is dating a 23-year-old high-school graduate who works at a factory and has received some promotions. He makes significantly more money than the social worker. Why doesn't Obama occasionally put in a good word for the blue-collar worker? We've raised several generations of black boys who want to be rap stars or play in the NBA, but are told in school that they should aspire to be architects and engineers. (It's always those two, for some reason.) Then they often end up doing some menial work or nothing at all, and feeling cheated.

I strongly agree with the anonymous above who points out that it makes no sense to give Pell Grants and government loans to students who want to pursue careers in which there is no future. Should acting students qualify for student loans? Especially as Obama wants to forgive a large share of the money they borrow by capping payments at ten percent of income and then writing them off after something like 20 years (10 if you take a gov't job). For a graduate of an acting program, that may mean the gov't lends him $200,000 and gets back $30,000. The rest is a taxpayer gift to the predatory colleges.

Student loan debt, currently over $1 trillion, may be the straw that breaks the camel's back--though I expect the camel's back will be broken by other unsustainables first.

Another point--Obama talks about how important it is in today's economy to be college educated, but he wants to flood the country with tens of millions of Mexicans who have a poor record of even graduating high school. Wouldn't it be great if we had a free press who would question him about incongruities like this?

I no longer feel as infuriated by these things as I used to because it's too late. We're going down. How fast we go down may be inconsequentially affected by political decisions we make at this point, but the outcome is inevitable. My model is John Jacob Astor, retiring to the bar on the Titanic to sip brandy while awaiting his demise.

Anonymous said...

Be more like Harvard

Ob*ma's genius continues to fill me with grateful admiration. How many social problems would immediately improve if, say, Chancey Luna were simply MORE LIKE MARK ZUCKERBERG?

-Frenzied Equivocator

Anonymous said...

Replace debt financing of college with (private) equity financing.

"Young man, I see a bright future ahead for you. I will pay your way through a Rice MS in CS if you agree to pay me 2% of your AGI, whatever that may be, for the next 30 years."

[Wanted side effect: this will starve Victim Studies departments.]

-Frenzied Equivocator

Anonymous said...

"I agree with Anonymous at 11:22 PM, that the only way to control tuition costs is to reduce financial aid and grant money. " - There is another way: if disparate impact were to disappear tomorrow, universities would no longer have monopoly pricing power over businesses testing their workers.

lyhpooms said...

fields where they aren't smart enough to make a career.

in which they aren't ...

countenance said...

Harry Baldwin

I have found that people who are college educated think they automatically deserve to be paid more and have more money than people who aren't college educated. Therefore, when a college educated social worker finds out s/he is making less than a factory worker who didn't go to college, s/he becomes insanely jealous.

This might be a Steve Sailer-style sociological Rosetta Stone — Maybe the big reason why the left wing despises oil is that they don’t like the fact that many non-college educated men (mostly white) who do hard physical work in the oil fields and on platforms make more money than Harvard grads. The Democrat Party might enjoy UAW support, but the left hates automobiles, and now I suspect it’s purely out of jealousy, that non-college educated men who belong to the UAW and work on assembly lines make more than Harvard grads. I now expect the left and academia to make anti-mining their next great crusade, if my theory is right.

Anonymous said...

This might be a Steve Sailer-style sociological Rosetta Stone — Maybe the big reason why the left wing despises oil is that they don’t like the fact that many non-college educated men (mostly white) who do hard physical work in the oil fields and on platforms make more money than Harvard grads.

OK leftoids. Don't like oil? Then build nuclear power plants with public money, providing not only energy but also plenty of jobs for highly-educated engineers and technicians.

Hepp said...

Seems to make perfect sense. NYT says schools will be compared to their peer institutions. So there will be less financial aid available to those who can't get their students to graduate and leave them indebted. This should be supported.

The only part of the judging thst seems to make no sense is "proportion of low income students." But if a school has a lot of low IQ poor people, then its graduation rates will suffer. Besides that part, I see this as good.

Anonymous said...

The educational industrial complex, like the military industrial complex, will gladly bankrupt the country before losing any of its tenured privileges. Nothing we say or do, no idiotic rating system, will change the fact that the government will continue to encourage 18 year olds to borrow obscene amounts of money to hand over to the complex, to keep the salaries, the administrators, the summers off, going. All of this followed by worthless degrees and a bill the tax payer will eventually pay off when the most unproductive of those 18 year olds cannot pay a thing. Want to major in sculpture, why not, government will "forgive" the debt. Meantime the few productive unfortunates (who are forced to pay for the country club surroundings and tenured professors of Lesbian studies along with their education) go bankrupt trying to pay back their debt. The whole thing is disgusting, including the obscene sports programs. Just one more sign this country losing it, I am very sorry to say.

Anonymous said...



"The only part of the judging thst seems to make no sense is "proportion of low income students." But if a school has a lot of low IQ poor people, then its graduation rates will suffer. Besides that part, I see this as good."


Low income students are generally dumb because their parents can't make much because they are dumb, too. Any sufficiently large group of poor people will have a low average IQ.

A high proportion of low income students is just code for warehousing or at best vocational education.

pat said...

I simply don't understand why kids need to take out student loans at all? I certainly didn't.

I moved out of my mother's house at 17 and moved in with a couple other guys who also went to George Mason. I worked several jobs.

I worked for the college as the Chemistry Lab Assistant. I tutored privately in Chemistry and math. I made a few bucks playing Bridge for money (I was college champ, it wasn't gambling). But the big bucks were in being the school janitor.

At SF State I worked from 3:00 AM to 7:00 AM every morning as a Postal Clerk.

In graduate school I had scholarships and fellowships. I taught statistics, calculus and keypunch as a TA. I worked part time for two different DC planning agencies.

Those were good years. I never worked very hard and I always had enough money for my modest needs. I was also very, very active in extracurricular activities including student government, the school paper, the debate team and the basketball team.

In America if you belong in college, most of the time, someone will be willing to pay you to go to school. If not, college is itself only a part time activity there is plenty of time available to work for your own support.

Something is wrong when the government gives out student loans and something is wrong with those who take them.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Address the concerns of college students that they'll be able to get good jobs and have the ability to afford to start families after graduation. That's something Obama wouldn't do, because, as the Sailer Correlation plainly states, the Republican Party at the Presidential level is the party of white adults who were/are/want to be involved in traditional nuclear families. If we make it easier for white people to start families, that means more votes for Republicans in future Presidential elections.
8/23/13, 8:44
The problem with this is a lot of typical Republican Politicians want guest worker programs. For example, the white guy tyring to get a construcation job in Houston can't but the same guy could get a construction job in Minnesota. I read on FAIR a white guy complaining that more illegals were used in construction in Georgia but less so in Virginia when he did a bridge construction job. Yeah, the housing is cheaper in Texas or Georgia but sometimes the typical white is more likely to compete against immigrant labor in Texas than let's say Maine.

Anonymous said...

Here in America it is declassee to be middle-class and on welfare. Instead we are students! And of course minorities can dream of no less. Good thing that we now need "life-time learning". It seems the economy works by everyone going ever deeper in debt and pushing back the debt horizon as far possible, so hey, it's win-win and devil take the hindmost. I feel positively depressed that I'm not in debt for the greater good.

Anonymous said...

One of the really bad ideas Obama keeps pushing is that everyone needs to go to college. Is it only because he wants them properly indoctrinated? I've seen statistics that something like 40 percent of the best-paying jobs require no college degree. My older daughter's husband is 30, has a master's degree in social work, and was fortunate to get a depressing job dealing with dysfunctional teens. My younger daughter is dating a 23-year-old high-school graduate who works at a factory and has received some promotions. He makes significantly more money than the social worker. Why doesn't Obama occasionally put in a good word for the blue-collar worker? We've raised several generations of black boys who want to be rap stars or play in the NBA, but are told in school that they should aspire to be architects and engineers. (It's always those two, for some reason.) Then they often end up doing some menial work or nothing at all, and feeling cheated.
True it isn't blue collar versus white collar its management, in a factory if that kid did Assembly work he still might be paid 10 per hr, its being a supervisor or into management that helps pay. The same goes for service jobs it may pay less than factory but a manager of a store makes a lot money than Mexican women that sew for 13 to 14 per hr. You don't need a degree always for supervisor or management positions.

Anonymous said...

ob Description
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The Assembler will be responsible for, but not be limited to, the following duties:
Assembling aircraft structures and units
Bonding and attaching hardware to units
Installing inserts and applying edging material
Sanding and deburring
Reading and comprehending simple instructions
Adhering to work instructions, engineering prints, blue prints and work orders to complete assign task
Other duties as assigned

Pay: $9.00 - 12.00 per hour depending on experience
See, not all factory work pays good.

Anonymous said...

Well, a lot of whites in the OC rather worked for Cash Call its heavily sales and the state of New York sue it over usury laws. The whites like the telemarketing boiler rooms that are hard but pay better than working for a food processing companies unless you are in management or a machinists or engineers the factory jobs in LA and Orange County usually don't pay that good.

Cail Corishev said...

Pay: $9.00 - 12.00 per hour depending on experience
See, not all factory work pays good.


And that's the problem. It'd pay a lot better if there were tens of millions of immigrants competing for it. And before you say, "This is higher-skill work that immigrants aren't doing," that doesn't matter. They're competing for the lower-skill jobs, which increases the pool of workers at that level, some of whom might be able to move up to this level and take this job at the lower wage. Extra supply is extra supply. Just as raising the minimum wage raises wages on up the line, lowering wages at the bottom brings them all down.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Obama occasionally put in a good word for the blue-collar worker?

He hates them?