You're a proud, new college graduate.
You walk across the stage, get your sheepskin from the college prez, smile into Mom's iPhone, and start wondering how you're going to repay almost $30,000 in student loans….
The Chronicle of Higher Education says about 75% of students who graduated from four-year colleges last year had student loans averaging $29,400.
Twenty years ago only half of college graduates had a student loan burden, and their loans averaged only $9,000.
CHE also says that doctoral-degree recipients took on additional debt, averaging more than $14,000—up 70% from 10 years ago.
And, relentlessly, the typical cost of college has climbed nearly 30% in the last five years, as the country struggled to recover from the 2008 financial collapse.
But the conventional wisdom says it’s worth it, right?
Sure, everybody assumes there's still a big career payoff for getting a college degree. A lot of recent grads with no job are waiting for that payoff to start coming true….
And let's keep this in mind: a large majority of those students also got financial aid from their colleges.
Much of the financial aid comes from alumni: current gifts from living alumni, and earnings from endowments created by departed alums.
I'm starting to question the wisdom of relying on alumni for continuing financial support to subsidize current college students.
I've been a loyal alumni giver, and I've already “repaid” my long-ago college financial aid several times over, so I think I have some high ground here….
I question the current high cost of college. I question the aptitude of many current students to do high quality work in college, and I question the grade inflation that is oh so evident. I question the mantra that a liberal arts education is good—necessary—for everyone. For many career tracks, I question the need to spend four whole years at college getting ready to work.
Despite my love for my alma mater, and my personal deep passion for the lifelong benefits of a liberal arts education, and my impulse to write a check to help a needy, deserving student—I'm slowly choking on my reluctant suspicion that I've been throwing my money away….