A Bit More on Student Debt

I wrote a bit ago about what colleges and universities should be required to do regarding student loans and student debt.  Here’s a bit more concerning why college and university management teams’ feet should be held to the fire. Mike Brown, writing for lendedu, has some data that compares, by school, student salary expectations with salary reality. In general,

median expected salary after graduating was $60,000, but the PayScale data showed that the typical graduate with zero to five years experience makes $48,400.

Brown published salary expectation vs reality for 62 schools; here are those data for the first 15 schools in his table:

School Actual Early Career Pay (0-5 Yrs. Experience) Expected Median Salary (0 Yrs. Experience) Percent Difference
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale $49,100 $70,000 70%
Washington State University $54,600 $70,000 78%
Central Michigan University $47,000 $58,500 80%
University of Louisville $48,800 $60,000 81%
East Carolina University $47,200 $58,000 81%
University of California, Riverside $54,000 $65,000 83%
University of Tennessee, Knoxville $50,200 $60,000 84%
Binghamton University $58,900 $70,000 84%
University of Illinois at Chicago $55,000 $65,000 85%
Temple University $50,800 $60,000 85%
University of Alabama $51,200 $60,000 85%
University of Colorado Boulder $55,600 $65,000 86%
University of California, Los Angeles $60,000 $70,000 86%
Kansas State University $51,600 $60,000 86%
Oklahoma State University $51,700 $60,000 86%


Who sets these expectations? That’s not clear. Who allows these expectations to stand uncorrected? The management teams at those colleges and universities.

Allowing this distortion to stand uncorrected is one more reason colleges and universities should be required to publish

  • graduation rates for their students given
    • 1 year of attendance
    • 2 years of attendance
    • 3 years of attendance
    • 4 years of attendance
    • 5 years of attendance
  • by major, the average and median salary for their graduates one year after graduation and five years after graduation—note that these data are not for one and five years of employment

The data from Brown also demonstrate why colleges and universities should be required to play the decisive role in lending money to their students and prospective students. Colleges and universities should be required, with respect to borrowings taken in order to attend the college/university, to

  • be the lender for the majority of the money borrowed by each student or student’s parent/guardian and not allowed to sell or otherwise transfer the loan, or
  • be the co-signer with the borrowing student or student’s parent/guardian on loans the student or student’s parent/guardian originates, or
  • be the loan guarantor of such loans, or
  • any combination of those three

Colleges and universities must absorb the risk of students’ or parents’/guardians’ borrowing in order for the student to attend their school. It’s the colleges and universities that are misleading the students concerning the value of the degrees gained, whether that misleading is overt through their setting inaccurate expectations, or passive through their silence regarding inaccurate expectations.

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