I recorded my interview with Marketplace yesterday at the WCVE studios on Sesame St. in Richmond. The folks were nice and had the we-don’t-shower-much look I’ve seen on many radio people over the years. When paid for your voice while spending hours alone in a small, dimly lit studio personal hygiene is a D-list item. My brief career in broadcasting smelled of this truth.

The discussion pertained to the Dept of Education’s attempts to rewrite the rules for Private, For-Profit colleges and their eligibility requirements for receiving Federal Student Loan proceeds. What they want to do is to create a system in which if the school’s tuition exceeds 8% of your degree program’s average income, nationally, then the school either must lower tuition or immediately lose Federal Student Loan proceeds.

So far, most people don’t see a problem. They may be thinking of those store-front colleges and career colleges that pop up on every corner and offer Massage Therapy, GED, Auto Mechanics, IT, or CNA classes with a promise of “More Money”. The philosophy is that For-Profit colleges market themselves as the one way to produce a large, sustainable income post graduation.

My concerns:

Last year the Federal Govt, at the behest of the Obama Administration, passed legislation making the Federal Government as the one, and only, source for Federal Student Loans. You can’t shop around for better rates or develop a relationship with a lender early in your adult life any longer. Your one banker is Uncle Sam.

Now your Uncle the Student Loan guru wants to make sure that you don’t have debt that exceeds your ability to pay. He wants to make sure that you don’t borrow $15,000 to get a job that will pay $8,000 per year. It sounds so pleasant and reassuring. It sounds benign and as if such a program would benefit thousands of ignorant ass people who don’t understand debt to income ratios because Uncle the Student Loan guru’s brother, Uncle the Education System God didn’t explain basic personal finance very well.

To me it sounds positively repulsive. One, the government MUST assume everyone will only work and earn income in their chosen degree field. Anyone wanna tell me every graduate works in their chosen field? I know a man who graduated with a degree in History who makes (I believe) a six figure income working in the Financial sector. What if Uncle Student Loan guru had come along and said, “Look, History majors don’t make much money. In fact, your current student loans to attend college exceed 8% of what we project your time will be worth somewhere down the road. So we’ve cancelled your school’s eligibility for Student Loan proceeds. NOW, you have to pay for your education with a signature loan or a secured debt like a Mortgage or Asset guarantees. What do you mean ‘I don’t even own a couch!’ What? Oh, you’re only twenty-two. Well, McDonald’s is always hiring!”

Sure. Transparency is needed in the Career College industry. I see no problem in requiring Federal Money receiving schools from stating clearly: THIS PROGRAM COSTS $XX,XXX. TO COMPLETE and EARNS, ON AVERAGE, $XX,XXX.XX per year AFTER GRADUATION.
Then the person student can shop around for a better, lower cost, more efficient way to become educated. And the Federal Government can stay the hell out of the Individual’s personal goals, motivations and successes/failures.

Another issue. Why not do this for Public Schools? What would prevent Uncle Student Loan guru from one day saying, “Yeah, look, Art History really doesn’t pay well. I know, I know, you really dig the subject but we (run from people who claim to speak for a collective) feel that the $21,000 per year you’ll make after graduating will make it hard for you to pay back the $63,000 in Public University Student Loans you’ll have. So, well, we’ve cancelled Student Loans for that particular degree program. Sure, you can borrow the money from someplace else, just not a Student Loan with low-interest and generous terms. I don’t know, ask that History major over there…”

Only computers and bureaucrats view the world as averages.

Yet, another concern. Many of the Private, For-Profit Colleges in America are minority focused brick & mortar institutions. How can the same government (in focus, the Same Administration) claim to help minorities by limiting their educational opportunities?

While I finished my B.A. I met hundreds of people, stationed and working all around the world, who would’ve been unable to pursue their goals if not for a Private, For-Profit college. And Federal Student Loans.

This stinks of monopolistic intent and, as a friend put it, herding the sheep into one place. The unions/government already exert so much influence over Public Compulsory Education that they are, anecdotally, mired down in tenure rules, union contracts, political correctness, administrative incompetence, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and a culture of wholesale mediocrity being celebrated (through guilt and emotionalism) as the genesis for future glories. Poppycock.
Think of the government telling you where you can get your loans and then telling you, in effect, where you can go to school. Where do you think they are going to herd you?
Into a private college where unions/government/political correctness may not have such a strong following?
Or into a public system that feeds on good intentions and vomits bad results?

How soon will they apply the same “We are protecting you from you.” philosophy to dictate which degree programs to support, which ones to offer…how many students should be engineers in Alabama, how many Auto-Mechanics do we really want? Think of the potentially agenda influenced degrees like History, Political Science, philosophy, Sociology, Literature, Anthropology, or perhaps even Medicine and Nursing.

What if the government held the students and teachers and competition captive?

If you are willing to pay back the loan. If you are willing to sign the contract. If you are willing to do the leg work needed to graduate then no one should manipulate or deceive you into studying only where, when, and what they dictate. Not me. Not Uncle Student Loan guru. Not Obama. Not the myth of collectivist good intentions.
Not no way, not no how.

Thank you. You may return to your regularly scheduled life already in progress.