Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad

Archive for the ‘Interviews: Aileen Parks’ Category

125. Interview with Dr. Aileen Parks: Part 5

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16 July 2011

– No, sir. Tuition costs are only a small portion of the actual costs of getting a university education.

– The average yearly cost of room and board in the ’09-’10 school year—remember, you’ve got to live somewhere—was $8,200. For books and supplies, $1,100. If you didn’t have a laptop—a necessity in this information age—add another $700 to that, minimum.

– Combine that with tuition and you’ve got over $13,000 a year for college-related expenses alone.

– Throw in health insurance for good measure, transportation costs, miscellaneous expenses, and what you’ve got then is an average American college student who could choose to work a part time job during their tenure at Whatever-State University, to supplement expenses, and still would end up leaving school with more debt than they could handle.

– Add that all up and what you’ve got is a generation of people—children—who are victims of the most profitable system of legal American slavery since the pre-civil war era.

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122. Interview with Dr. Aileen Parks: Part 4

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16 July 2011

– That’s understandable. It is a bit confusing.

– To put it in perspective, tuition rate increases at U.S. colleges have, percentage wise, rivaled health care inflation for years now.

– And, as you probably know if you’ve been paying attention to your insurance premiums, the health care industry is widely considered to be one of the most money-hoarding in the country, so it’s a pretty hefty feat to nearly match up with them.

– In the early ‘90’s, a year at a private university would’ve cost you an average of around $10,000. Public universities, an average of $2,000 a year.

– At the beginning of the 2000’s decade, the average public college tuition had risen by 85% to almost $4,000 a year. Private college nearly doubled as well, to just under $20,000 a year. Current tuition rates are rising at a rate of about 6.5% a year. Health care rises at a little over 8.

– Compare that to a 3.5% average yearly increase in base family income across the country, and you can see where the problem lies.

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119. Interview with Dr. Aileen Parks: Part 3

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16 July 2011

– It means a lot of things. The main thing though is that college education has lost a lot of its—vigor, per se.

– Statistically, 47% of high school graduates in 1973 continued with their education and received their bachelor’s degree. That’s less than half of America’s youth. By October 2008, that number rose to 70%. Seven out of ten Americans graduating high school in 2008 have gone on to pursue their Bachelor’s.

– Meanwhile, the unemployment rate of recent college grads rose to a record 10.6% in that same year.

– With an oversupply of graduates, the necessity to stand out from the rest of the applicant pool prompted a surge in students pursuing postgraduate degrees, with the number of freshman planning to go to graduate school rising from 31% in 1972 to 42% in 2008.

– With this comes added expenses. Graduate school tuition is higher than undergraduate, as is—generally—the cost of living.

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22. Interview with Dr. Aileen Parks: Part 2

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16 July 2011

– It is ridiculous, in a sense. And the repayment of student loans is no small feat either. Student loans are some of the most unforgiving debts a person can have in this country.

There are several options when it comes to dealing with student loans. The first is to make payments on the loan according to the payment plan the lender gives you following graduation. A set payment for a set period of time, negotiated when you first obtained the loan funds, with some lenders giving you the option to pay based on income or on a graduated scale, etcetera.

– Another option is to consolidate your loans and lengthen the payment schedule from, say, the typical ten years to fifteen or thirty, depending how much the total sum of your loans amounts to. This option has positives in that your payments will be less, but the interest will be more.

– Yet another option is deferment or forbearances. Both of these mean that you won’t have to make payments for a set period of time for various provable reasons on your part—economic hardship, graduate school, etcetera—with the former being a pause on your repayment schedule and the latter being a temporary forgiveness of those months of payment. In other words, deferments push back the final date of payment from the time you end your deferment period; with forbearances, however, the ten year period remains the same, which therefore means that when your forbearance is over and your payments start again, the monthly bill will be higher so that you can meet the final date of repayment.

– The last option? Default, or not paying the loans back at all. This is an option that isn’t really an option, though. There are all types of penalties for not paying back student loans: revoked tax benefits, ineligibility for future deferments, a severely lowered credit score, inability to receive professional licenses, garnished wages—the list is extensive and fairly harsh. Essentially, not paying your student loans can cancel out the positives of having a degree in the first place. And, as I said, this isn’t a situation where bankruptcy helps. In all likelihood, the only possible way to get out of repaying student loans without defaulting is in death.

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14. Interview with Dr. Aileen Parks: Part 1

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Who Is Anthony Stephens?

Dr. Aileen Parks is formerly the Executive Director of the Financial Aid Department at University of North Florida, currently teaching graduate courses in the Political Science department. A petite but forceful looking woman in her mid forties, Dr. Parks has an air of prestige that surrounds her like a cloud. Dr. Parks has agreed to be a consultant regarding the current state of the U.S. college system, a relevant area of expertise for the current investigation.

16 July 2011

– Of course. A tricky subject, the inner workings of the financial market known commonly as the post-secondary education industry.

[Dr. Parks gives a smug grin] Yes, financial market, that’s no slip of the tongue. Universities are and have been, for a fairly long time now, an industrial market no different than, say, the car or computer industry. Make no mistake, post-secondary educational institutions are businesses. Businesses operating under the mask of public service.

– Well, that all depends on what aspect of education financing you’re speaking of. For example, and according to recent studies, majority of bachelor’s degree recipients walk across that graduation stage with over $25,000 dollars in student loans, the average debt for graduates not pursuing a post-bachelor’s degree. This is money that is necessary to fund the ever-increasing costs of their college education.

– It sounds like an insignificant amount in the long-term scheme of things, so I’ll put that number in perspective: the average loan terms put repayment as taking place over a period of 120 months—or ten years. With current federal loan interest rates as high as 6.8%—private loan interest rates are much higher—and a total loan amount at the average stated of $25,000, the lowest a typical bachelor’s degree recipient can expect to be financially liable for are payments of around $270 a month for the next ten years of their post-collegiate life. This is a low-end figure. These graduates will eventually pay out an average total of $32,000, including $9,000 in interest alone, strictly for federal loans. Private loans are an even more aggressive breed, coming in at sometimes quadruple that amount.

– Yes. That’s the average. That includes all students in the college system, includes the students receiving full paid scholarships, includes the student’s whose parents are poor enough to meet the requirements to receive financial assistance that they don’t have to pay back. And anybody familiar with mean—or average—calculations knows that introducing a zero value into the numerator and adding a one to the denominator drastically changes the resulting value of the average. Some students are lucky enough to have none or lower-than-average debt coming out of a four year public or private university. Most are not.

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