Hour 2: 30 Issues - Higher Ed

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Students in the room discuss the pressures they feel as they look towards graduation. Then, discussing the cost of college, as well as Obama and McCain's platforms on college affordability and student loans, are

Michael Dannenberg, Senior Fellow in Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation and editor of their Higher Ed Watch blog

Anya Kamenentz, staff writer for Fast Company, and author of Generation Debt as well as the Generation Debt column at Yahoo Finance

Herman A. Berliner, provost of Hofstra Univeristy, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Lawrence Herbert Distinguished Professor of Economics Plus, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose district includes Hofstra University, stops by to discuss her work on college affordability and her thoughts about tonight's debate.


Herman A. Berliner, Michael Dannenberg, Anya Kamenentz and Carolyn McCarthy

Comments [77]

Life O' The Party from Hackensack, NJ

I was astonished by the remarks of the Provost on your program who spoke more highly about dorms and a gym that's more like a "health club" than making any positive remarks about the quality of Hofstra's faculty and classroom facilities. He was also so incredibly off-handed stating that his college costs go up "6-7% every year."

I firmly belive this is our education problem in a nutshell:
In 1974 when I went to a small, private and expensive Northeastern private school (Ithaca College) the costs including room and board were $4750.00 for my freshman year. At the time, the median family income in the US (adjusted for inflation) was @$22,000. Let's call it a 4 to 1 ratio.

Today, my daughter goes to a small, private and expensive Northeastern private school (Lafayette College) with this year's costs including room and board being $48,000. The median family income today is @$52,000. Our ratio today? Virtually 1 to 1. And the cost went up 6.75% this year!!

How will this ever work out for the "average" family in this country? Is there really anyone out there smart enough to fix this problem given the financial crises we are now faced with today? I don't truly think so.

Oct. 15 2008 10:20 PM
peter from manhatten

wow, i think the comments are even more interesting than the segment!

Oct. 15 2008 12:41 PM
Jaime from Queens

The problem with higher education is that the structure has no relevancy in the modern world. When a professor was the only source of information it required a university structure to deliver the information. Today, if a person is educated on how to learn, there is nothing the university provides that can not be obtained otherwise. As such the solution is to reverse the education structure so that the universities of today are the kindergartens of tomorrow. Only the highest trained personnel would be permitted to teach children during the "open architecture" learning period.
The clearest indication of this truth is the way universities compete to provide the most comfortable accommodations and extra curricular environment, lest someone might notice how superfluous the institutions have become

Oct. 15 2008 12:05 PM
plateoshrimp from brooklyn

In the same boat as many who have already posted here... I was first in college from 1981-83 (state university, resident tuition), received a merit scholarship and some grants, but still had to take out student loans, totaling less than $2K @ 1.5-2% interest. Ended up dropping out and lived overseas for 10 years; came back to US and worked full time in NYC for a couple of years before deciding to finish my degree... Was a full time student and worked full time (till senior year), received small scholarship (<$1K/year), but still had to finance mainly thru student loans. Currently owe nearly $53,000, on a payment plan extending thru 2032, in my 68th year (should I live that long).

Since graduation, have worked in the nonprofit sector in a field unrelated to my major, and during periods of unemployment (as I am currently experiencing) have to defer payments in order to continue to eat and pay rent...

I often find myself thinking that getting my degree was the most expensive life mistake I've ever made.

Oct. 15 2008 12:03 PM
Ivey from Brooklyn

The worse the condition of the dormitories, the easier it will be for students to transition to their first post-grad apartment, the cheaper their expenses and the faster they can pay off their loans

Oct. 15 2008 11:57 AM
jtt from nyc

How about educating kids before they get to college? Starting in pre-k through middle school. Any ninth grader without a learning disabilty, should be assumed to be literate and have a grasp of basic mathamatics. If this where the case, high school programs could be toughened up and expanded (I hear that in Germany one can attend high school for six years and graduate an engineer). This way students who are not interested in going to college(at least right out of high school), could start living like productive adult citizens.

What could be a greater investment in the future?

Oct. 15 2008 11:57 AM
Brendan from Manhattan

I am a recent graduate of New York Law School. I have over $150,000 in student loans. Because I attended a lower tier law school, the competition to attain a well paying job is overwhelming. I am currently struggling to repay my loans on top of all of my other bills.

I would like to advise all students thinking of attending law school to truly research the schools that they are thinking of attending. It is well known that the figures that schools publish pertaining to the average salary for graduates is highly inflated. Therefore, unless you are graduating from a top school or are going to be in the top 10% of your class, you will struggle to make a decent living and pay your loans.

Along with many others, I have learned that the path of law school is laden with the albatross of gigantic loan debt while employment opportunities are few and far between. Furthermore, with the recent outsourcing of document review jobs, many graduates are unable to even find the lowest tier of employment.

Although schools might say "buyer beware," it is difficult for people considering law school to make an informed decision when the employment figures published by schools are inflated and inaccurate.

Oct. 15 2008 11:56 AM
David from Queens

Nothing waves a white flag faster than bureucrats in Academia. Rather than reform higher education to make it affordable across the board, simply enhance the growing stratification by creating a two-tiered system. Junior and community colleges for the poor and middle class - Main Institutions for economic elite - give up on two-thirds of the population at the expense of the majority.

Oct. 15 2008 11:55 AM
Rachel from Dempster Hall

Education should be a right, not a privilege. If a college education is necessary for us to have any chance at getting a decent job, why aren't our politicians and our country investing in our future? What does this say about our social priorities?

Oct. 15 2008 11:55 AM
norman from NYC

The Yankee Stadium got $1.6 billion in NYC and NYS subsidies.

How many students could get their college expenses completely paid for with that money?

Oct. 15 2008 11:53 AM
Chris P from forest hills, ny

With Mr. Obama's emphasis on public service and volunteerism, does he have any proposals for individuals who have served in the public sector (Let's say for instance a teacher in the inner city of New York) to have some of their loans forgiven?
Are their any ideas or proposals that would help individuals who have essentially "mortgaged their future" by taking out in excess of one hundred thousand dollars in student loans.
$4,000 tax credit for volunteerism sounds wonderful, but for a person such as myself (who works during the day and goes to law school in the evenings) it is unrealistic to think I would have time for such services.

Oct. 15 2008 11:53 AM

maybe there is an underlying question here as to whether college is a business or a service

Oct. 15 2008 11:52 AM
Paul Wear from Norwalk, CT

This issue has not changed all that much in the last 30 years. I graduated with a BA in 1976 the total cost of my education at that time was $24,000, which included food, fun and tuition.

Adjusted for inflation that amount is equal to $92,408, I made the calculation using CPI inflation calculator on the U.S. Department of labor website.

Oct. 15 2008 11:50 AM
norman from NYC

Why do students in Germany, Finland, Holland, and Canada get cheap or free college, while you don't? Could somebody ask?

Oct. 15 2008 11:50 AM
anonomous from Dempster Hall

Hi Brian,

I am a law student at hofstra I started because I was a consultant in and may job subsidized the first couple of years. I am using loans for my last year and have almost the same amount of debt as I paid for my house elven years ago. While I am not worried about finding a job, I am just amazed at the cost and the ease with which loan were made availabe to students. should 3/4 years of college loan payments be equal to a mortgage payment?

Oct. 15 2008 11:49 AM
Traci from Long Island from Mount Sinai, Long Island

I attended A CUNY college for my undergrad and decided not to take loans with the idea that I would do so for grad school. I still owe CUNY and was denied Loans for grad school. Now I am paying out of pocket, working full time and attending part time. I have decided to take a semester off to save more. I have also decided to forgo loans even if it takes me several yrs to graduate. I'd rather that than to be debt ridden for the rest of my life. It's hard and I make sacrifices but to be less indebted is a wonderful thing.

Oct. 15 2008 11:49 AM
Dave Shukla from Dempster Hall

Economists have said that Americans will need to "lower their cost of living" in order to deal with rising costs such as education, energy, and housing. We are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan to the tune of $10 billion a month - totaling several trillion dollars total; we have a $1 trillion dollar a year military budget. We can no longer afford to fund Washington's war's in the Middle East. Candidates who are serious about the economic and environmental crises need to address the issue of the military budget if they want us to take them seriously about their commitments to real change.

Oct. 15 2008 11:46 AM
norman from NYC

jamie, could you elaborate on the costs of Canadian education? I know their medical schools have some of the best doctors in the world.

Oct. 15 2008 11:46 AM
Scott F.Butler from Manhattan

Hello Everyone,

The $4,000 tax credit proposal reminds me of the 'summer oil tax holiday' proposal:

The argument against that tax was that oil companies could simply raise prices, rendering the "holiday" inconsequential.

What is stopping higher education institutions from raising tuition, rendering the $4,000 credit inconsequential? Who is examining why higher education prices are rising so rapidly?

Why isn't greed at "Big University" ever examined?



Oct. 15 2008 11:43 AM
Brian Maston from Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Instead of repeating the experience of the students with whom you spoke (who are paying the equivalent of a middle-class salary per year to attend what has become mandatory, entry level higher education), I decided to move to The Netherlands learn Dutch and pay 1,500 Euros per year to attend an internationally respected university. The tuiton there: three years for a BA, 1-2 years for a MA, would be less than one year's tuiton at Hofstra.

Now I teach at a Dutch Journalism school, where I often point to the financial burdens of my own countrymen when the students there begin to complain about the cost of books and the like.

Brian Maston
Film & Media Studies
School of Journalism (SvJ)
Hogeschool Utrecht

Oct. 15 2008 11:43 AM
Dave Shukla from Dempster Hall

Provost Berliner says that the incoming administration "can't deal with all problems at once". Why not? If we were to stop a war that costs $10 billion dollars/month, if we were to stop subsidizing dead-end energy sources like oil and coal and nuclear, and if we were to "invest", to take his [berliner's] frame at its full value, in the future - especially in a time of crisis - wouldn't funding education be the pathway to our broader goals for our society? What national priorities make you say we can't fully address the rising costs of education? Does your University have a responsible endowments policy?

Oct. 15 2008 11:43 AM
norman from NYC

If when you graduate, and go into business, and you have to negotiate a deal, I hope you'll negotiate a better deal for your client than you're willing to accept from society for your own college costs.

I'm particularly disappointed in the law students who don't know how to ask the fundamental question:

Why should you (unlike German and Finnish students) have to pay for college at all?

Oct. 15 2008 11:42 AM
jamie from manhattan


Oct. 15 2008 11:42 AM
Aaron from Manhattan

why. on. earth. are private schools w/ considerable endowments putting lower income students into loans rather than increasing need-based scholarships and grants? i'd love it if Brian would ask this of Hofstra admin.

the cost of education is the major issue. i agree w/ the comments above that suggest that this $4k barely begins to solve the problem. the solution needs to come from the other side of the ledger.

Oct. 15 2008 11:42 AM

Question: Because we live in a time where we MUST keep our skills current, how do would we fund continuing or advanced education if you have been out of school for awhile? It doesn't stop at undergrad or even grad school. There doesn't seem to be any incentive for that.

Oct. 15 2008 11:41 AM
Julie from Freeport, LI

I think its time to reassess this "rule" nowadays that you NEED a college degree to get a decent paying job that puts you on a career path.
I went to college for 4 years and graduated in 1997. College was a wonderful and invaluable experience in terms of personal, intellectual, and social growth. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity. The work I've been doing for the past 8 years in publishing in no way requires a college degree. All of the skills I use were picked up on the job through real world experiences or through trade publications and continuing ed classes. And I've been able to build really great skill sets and advance within my company.
I think we need to explore more the idea that we can apprentice high school graduates in certain fields so they can get their foot in the door and get on the job training. I think certain occupations would be much better suited to this track and would offer young adults more opportunities to get started on a career path.

Oct. 15 2008 11:40 AM
steve gentile from new york city metro

The student spoke about needing to earn $94,000 per year to afford repayment of his loans. What about what parents would need to earn/increase their income to afford sending their children to college? Wouldn't we also need to increase OUR income by a similar amount?

Oct. 15 2008 11:38 AM
Jill from Manhattan

I remember reading (I think in NY times) a proposal for a more equitable college financing plan. The idea was that all students in need of funding would agree to pay a certain percentage of their income for a certain number of years. For example 10% of one's annual income for 10 years would go to finance higher education. This seems like a much fairer and more practical system than tax credits. Everyone would pay the same percentage and high income earners would subsidize those who choose professions with lower incomes.

Oct. 15 2008 11:35 AM
Ivey from Brooklyn

I graduated in 2007 from the University of Vermont, one of the most expensive state schools in the USA. They had begun construction on a new student center late in 2006, to be the largest building in the state of Vermont. This multi-million dollar project did not focus on the real needs and aims of the institution. Earlier on the show the rise in tuitions was addressed by noting that students are looking for nicer dorms, and other non-educational perks. The rise in tuition prices in inevitable considering inflation and the growth of the higher education sector, but I don't think that this money is being filtered properly, state of the art student centers and fancy dorms are not necessary for a great education, what about stellar professors?

Oct. 15 2008 11:35 AM
Nanette from Hofstra University

Provost Berliner did not mention the increased costs to higher education institutions for the technological infrastructure required to maintain computer laboratories, "smart classrooms", libraries, and science and engineering laboratory instrumentation.

Oct. 15 2008 11:34 AM
Melissa C from Bayside, NY

I was a Hofstra Undergrad student who graduated in 2001. I am now also a Hofstra Law School grad as of 2006. My monthly student loan payback amount, including federal and private loans for grad and undergrad is 1,400 per month. That is approximately one pay check per month for me. From the other paycheck comes all of my other expenses. At the end I have no disposable income for leisure or investment. This is scary! It almost makes me feel that I was better off cutting my losses at the undergrad degree. It all seems rather unfair and somewhat frustrating.

Oct. 15 2008 11:34 AM
Donna Chabak from Dempster Hall

I'm worried about paying my student loans when I get into the workforce because I'm going to be a teacher, possibly a pre-school teacher. Starting pre-school teachers make about $25,000 a year, before taxes

Oct. 15 2008 11:33 AM
norman from NYC

$3,000 a year is like giving you a 3-foot ladder to help you get out of a 24-foot hole.

Oct. 15 2008 11:33 AM

How do you police the community service? Could it be anywhere? Doing anything? Is there a clearing house?

Oct. 15 2008 11:33 AM
Brian Kelly from Dempster Hall

The student in debt sings: "Why would I feed the beast that eats its young?" How could the incoming administration directly address the rising costs of higher education on a nation-wide basis? What systemic features of the education system need to be changed?

Oct. 15 2008 11:32 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Another point about textbooks:

The books for ESL students are far more reasonable in price, but the financial aid is distributed according to number of credits not the actual cost of the books. As a result, ESL students are given hundreds of extra dollars they don't need while other students' financial aid falls hundreds of dollars short, and some students can't qualify for it at all. If this money was distributed more reasonably, we might see more students able to buy their books.

Oct. 15 2008 11:32 AM
david williams from ditmas park

that's $40 / hour...not bad.

Oct. 15 2008 11:32 AM
Aviva Rahmani from NYC/ Maine

What kind of society will we be if it is impossible to educate artists and poor people and the only future young people can contemplate is one that pays off immense (predatory)student loans? Isn't this idnentured servitude in another form? Aren't students, the future being indentured to corporations? Is the price an electorate so depressed, disenfranchised and ignorant that Sarah Palin and her ilk look good? Won't this mean a back future for the environment, for culture, for the happiness index- except those at the top of the heap?

Oct. 15 2008 11:27 AM
norman from NYC

So why don't you want free education like we got at CCNY and like Linus Torvalds got in Finland?

Oct. 15 2008 11:27 AM
Seriously from NYC

Two words: STATE SCHOOL!

Oct. 15 2008 11:27 AM
Natalie from Dempster Hall

I did AmeriCorps so I'm particularly interested in education awards for those who complete public service. (Especially since after a year of helping out after Katrina you only get $4725...that's then taxable!) That said, I'm skeptical about Obama's plan to give each student who does community service a $4000 break off of college tuition. How would this be administered?

Oct. 15 2008 11:26 AM
Marissa from Manhattan

I recently graduated from Columbia University with $82,000 in student debt after two years of enrollment (after scholarships). Since the interest rate on one of my unsubsidized loans was 9.3%! My brother's current mortgage rate is less than this. I was forced to clear out my investment account--luckily in July before the economic meltdown--to pay off that one loan. I'm now paying $1,000 of my $2,600 monthly income to pay this debt off quickly and I live in NYC, a city with obscene rental costs. I now question whether graduate school was a wise choice. As a young professional, I feel I am being punished for pursuing educational advancement. How are future generations to compete in the global marketplace if they can't afford the education required to do so?

Oct. 15 2008 11:25 AM

mr. provost

college is NOT an arms race to entice students.

Oct. 15 2008 11:24 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Let's also talk about the cost of college textbooks! Textbooks go up in price at double the rate of inflation. I work in a college bookstore, and most of the books are over $100, and some are as much as $200. Nursing 101 students at this school are looking at $700 in books for just that course. Most of the students at this college are lower-income people and its a real burden for them because financial aid rarely covers the full cost of the books.

Oct. 15 2008 11:23 AM
Annonymous from Dempster Hall

1 credit at hofstra costs $985 compared to lst year where it was $785! That's 1 credit. Most classes are 3 credits!!

Oct. 15 2008 11:23 AM
Jamie from Colonia, NJ

Hi Brian,

I graduated from a state school in NJ in May and now I am so worried for my future. I'm in debt approx $60,000. Bachelor's degrees are not worth as much anymore as the world becomes more competitive. I had dreams of joining the Peace Corps after college, but since I cannot defer my loans I am working for a corporation.

Oct. 15 2008 11:23 AM
peter from manhatten

its scandalous how expensive university is! by contrast, in germany everyone has a right to a free university education. i was fortunate to go to university in this country in the 90s before things totally spiraled out of control. i can only recommend current students to obtain a degree that provides practical skills in order to be able to compete in the globalized knowledge economy: hard sciences, computer science, engineering, or economics come to mind.

Oct. 15 2008 11:22 AM

any thoughts on WHY the price of higher ed has more than doubled the inflation rate for twenty years running?

Oct. 15 2008 11:22 AM
Ryan Monaghan from manhattan

Your comment about fine arts majors only being able to pose the question of "Would you like fries with that" was very demeaning and frankly quite low brow of you. Especially given WNYC's dedication to the arts, I was quite surprised to hear you say something like that. I'm a recent graduate of Parsons School of Design, and I'm happy to let you know I do not work in a fast food restaurant, and that I'm working for a major magazine and doing quite well.

Oct. 15 2008 11:21 AM
Chris Nelson from Brooklyn, NY

I have a mountain of student loans to pay off. I graduated from a state university (University of Illinois at Chicago) with my masters degree in architecture. My first job after my masters paid $42k and my monthly payments are about $800/month. My principal balance for my loans are about $80k and I have been trying to chip away at it since, but I am not making much ground. I love the architectural profession and I chose it knowing that I would not make much money with respect to my amount of schooling. To make due, I am starting a t-shirt line (called RA-NYC) (a little shout out) and I'm hoping to make some extra money that way.

Look it up on Facebook or,

Oct. 15 2008 11:20 AM
Liz from manhattan

I have my MSW from Columbia University- graduated with 86,000 of debt- I have many different loans, the majority of which are to the tune of an 8% interest rate or higher. The average salary of my classmates is supposedly 42k- i make more, and i wonder how others who don't are ever going to be able to pay it off!

Oct. 15 2008 11:19 AM
Erin A. from New Jersey

I owe about $70,000 in student loans. After graduate school I found a great job, but made only enough money to pay the interest rate on my loan. After getting married and relocating, I haven't found a job in my field and I currently work as a receptionist. This isn't the career path I was hoping for and I find it terribly depressing to pay my loans every month and not have the job I spent so much money to get.

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
Daniel from Manhattan

We should remember that it wasn't too long ago that Senator Obama paid off his school debts.

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
kz from nyc

im writing to comment on student loan debt. i was pressured to consolidate at a time when the interest was highest. citibank holds my loan. it has increased more than i ever imagined. i would never do it had i had the chance again. talk about predatory lending. who is going to bail me out? i will be dealing with these loans well into my seventies. i probably wont ever qualify for a home load because of it, despite making my payments. i am self employed, so with the debt on my credit, i am considered too high risk. i hope the student loan debt situation is address in the new administration, but i hold little hope of that. my loans amount to roughly $120,000.

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
rachel from brooklyn

I recently graduated from college, I was lucky enough to have a bar tending job so I could work my way through school without taking out student loans. I have three degrees and was able to enjoy college and learn. It seems sad that college these days is so about getting out not really learning.

I had decline Columbia Graduate school for art history because I could not see ever making enough money to pay off the loans...Not allowing students to thrive is an American tragedy.

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
David from Queens

Higher Education should be free - The government makes everything back tenfold in the ridiculous taxes that each graduate pays back over their lifetimes

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
sharon from NYC

Just for comparison. I graduated Adelphi University in 1981. We were in a recession then. I was the recipient of PEL, University and State matching grants plus I worked during my college years. I paid back a total of $10,000 in tuition over 10 years.
I can't imagine how these young people are coping with the financial stress and the weight of there debt obligations which will follow them for over 10 years.

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
Gleb from brooklyn

I graduated from NYU, where I paid 22,000 per year to study film production and literature. Since I don't want to plow into the daily grind to start paying my loans, my best option is grad school. Humanities PhD programs allow for loan deferment and pay you to read books.

Oct. 15 2008 11:18 AM
Emily Walkiewicz from Manhattan

I went to art school at Parsons School of Design and Graduate School at the New School University. I owe about $80,000 and have to pay it back over 40 years, I pay about $335 a month. I am a New York City public school teacher, my husband is a freelance graphic artist and I'm pregnant... what am I going to do???? I am broke!

Oct. 15 2008 11:17 AM
O from Forest Hills


we are talking about education not guns!

Oct. 15 2008 11:17 AM
Allison from Brooklyn

I have a BS and MA degree in Studio Art, thankfully due to working full time during my MA degree those loans are paid off. However, if McCain wins the election, I HOPE NOT, then I will have to dedicate my future to the environment since it will be destroyed by his regime. I will go back to school for environmental engineering. How I will pay for it, I am not sure, but I will find a way.
Thank you.

Oct. 15 2008 11:17 AM
Abby from Brooklyn, NY

I graduated from college in 2006 and the majority of my education and room and board at a state school in PA was loaned. Luckily my parents co-signed but all in all I'm in debt about 65k. I now live in NYC and making ends meet is tough on my mid-level salary. One Sallie Mae Loan for 10k if paid at the minimum for 10 years will end up being almost 20k - double the initial amount!

Oct. 15 2008 11:17 AM
Catfish J. Rivers from Oak Ridge, NJ

I wish I never went to college. My degrees are no better the laminated toilet paper. I have been paying the minimum payment for over a decade now because that's the most I can scrape together after I pay cost of living expenses. I expect to be paying until I am retired or dead. Some of my friends who never went to college make more than me, and none make less...higher education dragged down by debt.

Oct. 15 2008 11:16 AM
O from Forest Hills

#9 Norman, a free education for everyone would make us more Socialist state and more like Denmark. It works in Denmark but people are afraid of the unknown.

Oct. 15 2008 11:16 AM
Annonymous from Dempster Hall

As a "super senior," a 5th year student, Hofstra only awarded me $500 this year in financial aid. So I had to request and borrow $38,000!!! Luckily my bank who awarded me the money is still above water.

Oct. 15 2008 11:16 AM
O from Forest Hills

#6 Howard,

Things are never that simple. Economics and politics like life are complex and have many shades of grey and you can't pin a label on everything.

30 years of Raganomics are coming home to roost. The trickle down theory that was thought to work in the 80s has cut down on educational aide to students over the years. Grants, programs like TAP to help students have been severely cut back.

We need jobs in America and the well paying jobs to stay in America for students to make loan payments after college.

The Bush Administration doesn't get it and will be over soon. Education is not a priority to Republicans. It is excess spending to be cut. That is why they have cut grants.

Finally, why would someone want to take out $40K in loans to get a teaching degree and a Masters is required but a teacher starts out at $24K if they are lucky. They have to pay rent and living expenses.

It is not black and white. Nothing is black and white. Life is shades of gray, there are no labels. Things are not so simple as you like to make them.

if they were so simple, the government would get it and life wouldn't be so complicated. Nothing is simple or extreme.

Oct. 15 2008 11:14 AM
Dr. Broke from Brooklyn

My school loan debt for a Ph.D. in history - $115,000.

Oct. 15 2008 11:14 AM
norman from NYC

You college kids -- why don't you deserve to get a free education like Howard and I did?

Oct. 15 2008 11:14 AM
Borrower Beware from Atlanta/New York

Borrowers beware! My mom is 72 and still paying off student loans!

Oct. 15 2008 11:14 AM

Obama's transition point of contact (John Podesta) is the president of a think tank with a student debit initiative (

Oct. 15 2008 11:12 AM
Howard from Kew Gardens

Here is what I don't get. If the difference between a high school diploma and a college degree is over a million dollars in income (and therefore more tax revenue), why can't college be seen as a cash cow for taxes? Add to that we need college educated people to compete globally, you would think Congress and the president would have figured this out by now.

So why aren't there GRANTS for college like there were when I went to college??? Why are we discussing just loans?!?

Want to get more scientists? Make it cheap or free to get a science degree.

Need more teachers? Make it cheap or free to get a degree in education.

It is just that simple!!!

Oct. 15 2008 11:06 AM

I am one of the many students that have loans with Sallie Mae. When I finished graduate school I had $50,000 in student loan debt and very little cash. After paying on the loan for five years I got divorced and my business suffered dramatically. The only options offered by Sallie Mae are those that continue to compound interest and increase the principal of the loan which has now grown to over $100,000 and I will pay back $225,000 over 25 years. Meanwhile Saliie Mae's executive's take huge profits.

Oct. 15 2008 10:48 AM
Ken from NYC

This is really a terrific segment. I haven't heard such thoughtful, nuanced ideas--from both Obama and Mccain supporters-- about the election yet, from any of the media outlets. Go Hofstra, you should all be political commentators!

Oct. 15 2008 10:24 AM
Inquiring Minds

"In sum, we hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense ... We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals." Justice Scalia, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. (2008)

This was the most important civil rights decision in these students' lifetime.

Thankfully, the 2nd Amendment was upheld, in spite of the efforts of Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and her allies.

Maybe you can ask the Congresswoman what she feels about Obama's "position" on gun control - - real or perceived.

Oct. 15 2008 10:14 AM
norman from NYC

When I went to college, City College was free, and the state university system in New York and California was almost free. City College, and the state university systems, graduated some of the leaders of the computer revolution, like Andrew Grove, who graduated CCNY, and went to California to found Intel.

Students still get a free education in the countries we're competing with. Linus Torvalds, the creator of the computer operating system Linux, told Terry Gross that when he went to the university in Finland, tuition was free, and he got a stipend besides, so he could spend all his time playing with his computer.

Why shouldn't college students today get free education like I did? Why should they graduate as indented servants? How can they compete with the Europeans? Why aren't kids today complaining about it? Why aren't they organizing to make it an issue in the political campaigns?

Oct. 15 2008 10:12 AM
Myriam F. from Ithaca, NY

Dear Mr. Lehrer,

Please ask your guests about the lack of funding for student loans in some states, such as MA, where this summer 40,000 families were left without loan funds for this academic year. Why was the loan agency, MA Educational Financing Authority, without funds even before the full-blown credit crisis? Should those of us who study in New York State worry about loan availability in the future?

Thank you,

Myriam F. (Ithaca, NY)


The article appeared in the Boston Globe and was written By Beth Healy, on July 29, 2008.

"The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority yesterday said it will not be able to provide student loans this fall for the first time in its 26-year history, leaving more than 40,000 families without an important source of tuition funds just weeks before college classes begin."


Oct. 15 2008 02:55 AM

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