Someone needs to make sure the masses stay in their place.
Anonymous @ 1:24 posted some good research in the post below.
I posted this over at Nando's blog awhile back, but received no response - let me know what you guys think:
"Just to show everyone how easy it was for our parents compared to our current plight, and just some food for thought in general:
The federal minimum wage from 1980-1981 was $3.10 and from 1981-1990 it was $3.35. If we assume that an average person could get a job paying minimum wage during the school years of 1980-81 to 1982-83 during a three year stint at the University of Michigan Law School, and assuming that person worked 20 hours per week during the 52 weeks of the three years in law school (certainly quite an easy task if you ask me), that person would have made $10,192.00 over the three year period.
Now, how much would tuition have been for those three school years? A grand total of $7,266.80!
In other words, you could work minimum wage jobs during your law school stay and actually come out ahead $2,925.20 when only taking into account tuition versus total minimum wage earnings! The extra money left over represents about $81.25 left over each month.
I realize you would have to take into account food, lodging, transportation, etc. However, average rent was $300.00 (which if you had roomates would be significantly cheaper - say ~$75.00), and everything else was much cheaper. Basically, you really could work minimum wage jobs back then and pretty much cover ALL of your costs for three years of law school. I really don't even know why people took out loans back then (if they did at all).
Now, comparing the numbers today:
Tuition - $129,030.00 for three years of tuition (assuming they don't raise tuition for the next three years...good luck with that).
Michigan minimum wage - $7.40. Working 20 hour weeks for the three years you would make $23,088.00.
Running the numbers, you would be left with a deficit of $105,942.00! And that's not even mentioned housing costs, food, transportation, etc."
With those numbers in mind, I then posed the following question:
"Maybe someone here can clarify this for me, but why did people really even need loans when all this federal student loan legislation was passed? Are you telling me that people really couldn't come up with the money to pay for their tuition back then? I really find that hard to believe. As I pointed out earlier, even as recent as 1985 (and a few years later even) you could completely finance a top notch law school education. Why were the loans needed?"
So does anyone have any thoughts? I really want to know why anyone from that day and age even needed loans to finish school. I realize that I only took numbers from the University of Michigan, but I have checked numbers from other schools and have found them to be quite comparable, and in many instances you could fund an education for much less than the numbers cited above. I'd especially be interested in hearing thoughts from those that graduated college from that time period.
In many ways our society was more equal three decades ago than it is today. We've made progress in dealing with racism, homophobia, and sexism but have gone backwards in terms of dealing with economic inequality. It amazes me that in this recession, colleges and universities still have the nerve to justify increases in tuition and room & board fees. As I commented in the post below, high tuition costs and the burden it has on American families is one of the reasons why the US lags behind many European and Asian countries when it comes to education and cutting edge research, especially in math and science. While other countries pay talented students (debt free!) to study overseas and receive the best education to become tomorrow's leaders in science, medicine, and technology, we seem fine with blaming young people who get in over their heads in student debt simply because they want an education to do something better with their lives.
Angel and Grumpy Young Man make valid points. A college degree shouldn't be a requirement for everyone nor is everyone meant to become an academic, a doctor, or a lawyer. I agree that the ABA needs to be reformed and all of TTT schools shut down. But let's be clear that a good education and making connections with important people at top universities and at Ivy Leagues is one of the few ways a person can move up the socio-economic ladder. Poor, working, and middle class students who are smart and determined enough to overcome the many obstacles to get into a Tier 1 school should not be prevented from attending because they don't have the money. I see the growing inaccessibility to an affordable education as another way the elite can keep anyone else from upsetting the golden applecart of wealth and privilege. Inaccessibility to a quality education whether we're talking about primary school or college is just another form of discrimination and segregation. If more people were as outraged we might actually have a fighting chance at changing the system.