Colleges and Finances

My lunchtime reading has also highlighted a number of articles related to colleges (particularly UC) and finances. Hopefully, they won’t ruin your lunch.

  • UC Fees Increasing… maybe. Well, that “maybe” is a highly-likely (sigh). If the state doesn’t increase funding by $125 million, it is likely the 10-campus UC system would raise tuition by 6% this fall. Further, if the initiative in November doesn’t pass, we’re looking at a mid-year tuition increase in the “range of double digits” or drastic cuts to campus programs and staffing. With the 6% increase, tuition for in-state undergraduates would rise $731 to $12,923. Sigh. I just keep reminding myself that it is still a lot less than private school tuition, even with merit scholarships. One side effect of the increasing tuition, though, is that more and more California students are going out of state. There are a number of factors that are fallout of that: some are taking advantage of a special program that gives in-state tuition to some out of state students, others are depending more on merit/need scholarships from out of state private schools (which increases their costs, and thus tuition), and it creates more space for out of state students to attend UC/CSU (bringing in out of state resident fees).
  • Paying for College. When you think about paying for college, there are a number of ways to do it. One is scholarships. The other is to reduce parental costs, freeing up cash for college. Erin’s exploring the former, and we’re doing the latter. This includes shopping for the best auto insurance quotes, and exploring refinancing. Alas, since the last ReFi, values had dropped more. This is why I’m pleased to read about the streamlining of HARP. We’re not underwater, but we’re now under 20% equity. Doing a HARP ReFi will go a large way towards making college more affordable. We won’t be able to take advantage of the other program to reduce loan balances because we’re not underwater–but that’s OK.
  • Bright College Days. Thinking about Erin going off to college has me wistfully looking back at my days at UCLA. I uncovered a few articles looking at the history of buildings in Westwood, including the buildings that used to be the Bratskeller and the BofA and the buildings that used to be Maria’s and Bullocks. Ah, the days when Westwood was a real college town…
  • Value of College. Is college worth it? That’s the on-going debate these days. A recent study shows the effect of a college degree: Only about half are working full-time, with the majority starting with less pay than expected while also dealing with huge student debts. Nearly six in 10 think they’ll end up less financially successful than their elders. Workers who graduated during the recession – from 2009 through last year – earned a median starting salary of $27,000 – or $3,000 less annually than earlier graduates. Nearly a quarter of all respondents said their current job pays much less than they’d anticipated.Female graduates earned $2,000 less than their male counterparts. Most fresh college grads said their first jobs didn’t help them advance along a career path – and that the positions didn’t even require a four-year degree. Four in 10 said they took the work just to get by. So does it pay to go to college? Is it worth between $150K-$300K over a lifetime? Well, a survey from 2011 showed that people with a bachelor’s degree make 84% more over a lifetime than high school graduates. In 1999, the premium was 75%. How much do they make? The 2011 survey showed that, on average, a doctoral degree-holder will earn $3.3 million over a lifetime, compared to $2.3 million for a college graduate and $1.3 million for those with a high school diploma. That said, people with less education in high-paying occupations can out-earn their counterparts with advanced degrees, yet within the same industry, workers with more schooling usually earn more. What is unknown is how that changed between 2011 and 2012. Still, these are important things to keep in mind when trying to decide if college is worth what you pay. Lastly, it is important to remember that college is often more than just what you learn: it is the ability to network with alumni that might open the door for you, make the connections to recommend you, or provide you with contacts. Often these are much more valuable in the end run.



Thoughts on Gay Marriage

With President Obama’s announcement yesterday and the North Carolina vote the day before, the subject of gay marriage has been in the news. You can find a good analysis of it here. My thoughts, essentially, are “it’s about time” and “what’s the fuss about, anyway”. I thought I would take a few minutes during lunch to elaborate on this:

  • The government, in general, has no business dictating what are legal marriages. That goes for “traditional” as well as whatever “non-traditional” groupings you can think of. Essentially, that is the government intruding into religious space. However…
  • Given that the government does recognize such “personal corporate entities” (for lack of a better term) for the purposes of visitation, inheritance, etc., that recognition must reflect the attitude of “equal under the law”. That means interracial, interreligious, and samesex must be accepted. If a group files to be recognized by the state, it should be recognized (and yes, I do think there are some groups that should be prohibited, primarily those involving “below the age of legal consent” or “incapable of legal consent”–that is, children and animals).
  • Government recognition does not mandate religious recognition, or what is taught in religious schools. The government can’t tell religious leaders they must participate in any ceremony, or that they have to–from the point of view of what a church accepts–accept a particular view. The government can only have a say for those areas where the government provides funds: thus if a church provides a community service funded by the government, that community service must be “equal under the law”.
  • [Caveat 1: Now, this might open the can of worms of whether IRS exemptions for churches are government funding. They might be, and arguably, if a church wants to have that exemption, they must recognize same-sex marriages. You might argue that this would make churches suffer. Well, churches have always suffered for the sake of what is “morally right”. But I’ll agree that this is a muddy water, and I’d be equally happy with looking the other way on this.]
  • [Caveat 2: Yes, this extends to abortion as well. The right to abortion should be legal–to do anything else is to have the government impose one religious view on those with a different religious view. Don’t want to offer abortions? Fine. You don’t have to take government funds.]
  • However, the linked article is correct when this is called a cultural war. There are two clear camps: those who believe that the government should not be dictating morals based on a specific religious creed, and those that believe that they have to impose their religious beliefs on those they view as non- or lax-believers so that they will have a better share in the world-to-come. I think the outcome of this “war” will truly dictate the future of this great nation, and determine whether it will hold true to its founding ideals as a place where minority religions and groups are free.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?