Or not. New York is an expensive city, folks. If you go to an elite school there (NYU or Columbia) expect to fork over your life savings unless you get a lot of financial aid and scholarships.
The New York Times has found another student loan slave in the Big Apple, not really a difficult task. I have a friend who is getting her second Master's degree at NYU. I don't understand why anyone needs two Master's degrees, but this is what happens when young people can't find a job and buy into the higher education myth that an elite degree is sure to bring in the big bucks after graduation, which we have learned is no longer the case.
Like many middle-class families, Cortney Munna and her mother began the college selection process with a grim determination. They would do whatever they could to get Cortney into the best possible college, and they maintained a blind faith that the investment would be worth it.I don't think most graduates in a similar position as Ms. Munna are idiots or irresponsible. They were misinformed like the rest of us. Students and their parents invest $100k for a degree from an elite institution because they believe it will land them a job that pays enough to pay off those loans in a reasonable amount of time. No one plans to default or flee the country when they sign up for a student loan. You get a degree from an Ivy League or top tier college and you expect to get a decent paying white collar job. I can't speak for third tier graduates, but back in the good ol' days, the majority of graduates from my college and law school found jobs that paid more than factory line workers. That is why people, and especially working class people with academically gifted children, believe higher education is a good investment - perhaps the only investment - that will allow their children to enter a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle.
Today, however, Ms. Munna, a 26-year-old graduate of New York University, has nearly $100,000 in student loan debt from her four years in college, and affording the full monthly payments would be a struggle. For much of the time since her 2005 graduation, she’s been enrolled in night school, which allows her to defer loan payments.
I don't understand why people are beating up on Ms. Munna in the comments for majoring in Religious and Women's Studies. And? I know people who are unemployed who majored in Humanities and Science. T14 law students are graduating without any job offers. Does your college major really matter that much anymore unless you are in Pre-Med or Engineering? Any degree in the Humanities is going to end you up in the unemployment line these days, whether it be Women's Studies or Political Science. More people should start questioning the financial aid offices and banks who take advantage of clueless teenagers by allowing them to take out a $40k loan in the first place.
Which is why I am glad the author questions how Munna was allowed to take out a $40k Citibank loan when she was only 17-years-old. In the process, the article reveals a bit of the the higher education scam at work, and why students are able to take on massive debt without any warning or advice from the financial aid office (emphasis mine):
The financial aid office often has the best picture of what students like Ms. Munna are up against, because they see their families’ financial situation splayed out on the federal financial aid form. So why didn’t N.Y.U. tell Ms. Munna that she simply did not belong there once she’d passed, say, $60,000 in total debt?
“Had somebody called me and said, ‘Do you have a clue where this is all headed?’, it would have been a slap in the face, but a slap in the face that I needed,” said Cathryn Munna. “When financial aid told her that they could get her $2,000 more in loans, they should have been saying ‘You are in deep doo-doo, little girl.’ ”
That’s not a role that the university wants to take on, though. “I think that would be completely inappropriate,” said Randall Deike, the vice president of enrollment management for N.Y.U., who oversees admissions and financial aid. “Some families will do whatever it takes for their son or daughter to be not just at N.Y.U., but any first-choice college. I’m not sure that’s always the best decision, but it’s one that they really have to make themselves.”
The complications here go well beyond the propriety of suggesting that a student enroll elsewhere. Colleges don’t always know how much debt its students are taking on, which makes it hard to offer good counsel. (N.Y.U. does appear to have known about all of Ms. Munna’s loans, though.)
Then there’s a branding problem. Urging students to attend a cheaper college or leave altogether suggests a lack of confidence about the earning potential of alumni. Nobody wants to admit that. And once a university starts encouraging middle-class students to go elsewhere, it must fill its classes with more children of the wealthy and a much smaller number of low-income students to whom it can afford to offer enormous scholarships. That’s hardly an ideal outcome either.
Finally, universities exist to enroll students, not turn them away. “Aid administrators want to keep their jobs,” said Joan H. Crissman, interim president and chief executive of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “If the administration finds out that you’re encouraging students to go to a cheaper school just because you don’t think they can handle the debt load, I don’t think that’s going to mesh very well.”
That doesn’t change the fact, however, that the financial aid office is still in the best position to see trouble coming and do something to stop it. University officials should take on this obligation, even if they aren’t willing to advise students to attend another college.
Is Munna to blame or should we start criticizing the universities and banks for lending young people money knowing that students usually start college with little idea of how to manage their finances or any sense of their income prospects in 4 years. What do you think?