Pro-Business Not So Compatible With Marriage/Family Values?

7 09 2010

UPDATE from Chronicle of Higher Education:
For-Profit Colleges Spend Heavily to Fend Off New Rule:

“Student aid is the lifeblood of many for-profit colleges, accounting for an average of 77 percent of revenue at the five largest companies, according to an analysis by the Senate education committee. Without access to federal dollars, many programs would be forced to shut down.

. . .The colleges have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress and federal agencies, nearly doubling their lobbying expenditures over the past year. Some of the most vulnerable companies spent three or four times as much on lobbying in the second quarter of 2010 than in the same period in 2009. One company, Education Management Corporation, spent eight times as much.”

Not so compatible with marriage and family values, and not looking good for the country, either:

. . .She didn’t focus on the bottom line, she said, because it was so profoundly depressing. But as the couple got closer to their wedding day, she took out all the paperwork and it became clear that her total debt was actually about $170,000.

. . .At a time when even people with no graduate degrees, like Ms. Eastman, often end up six figures in the hole and people getting married for the second time have loads of debt from their earlier lives, it should come as no surprise that debt can bust up engagements. . .

Even if disclosure doesn’t render you unmarriageable, tricky questions linger. If one person brings a huge debt to a relationship, who is ultimately responsible for making good on the obligation? And if it’s $170,000, isn’t the more solvent partner going to resent that debt over time no matter how early the disclosure comes? After all, it will profoundly affect every financial decision, from buying a home to how many children to have.

. . . To Europeans, who often pay little or nothing toward their university studies, the idea of going deeply into debt to get educated is, well, foreign.

“I didn’t acquire it because I go out and shop a lot,” she said. “It’s because I’m doing something that I’ll love for the rest of my life.”
Still, . . . how do you define fair when you’re bringing a quarter of a million dollars in debt to a relationship?

. . . “I know he has his own dreams, and they will require money,” Ms. Tidwell said. “Will my debt take away from that?”

Lisa J. B. Peterson, a financial planner with Lantern Financial in Boston, specializes in counseling young couples and has heard this story before. About half the people she sees are both bringing significant debt to the relationship, and about a quarter of the others have one person who has a pile of student loans.

. . . “What would happen if I got hurt and couldn’t practice or got sued for malpractice?” Ms. Tidwell asked.

[Attorney] “It could happen that she wants to be a stay-at-home spouse for a while. What if she has triplets?”

. . .And this only gets more complicated (and the agreements more crucial) in second marriages, where people may come to the relationship with assets, sole responsibility for a mortgage and a couple of college tuitions. . .




14 responses

7 09 2010

So if you can reduce your debt 50% by marrying, getting married in finite number of times will still not reduce your debt to zero 🙂

7 09 2010

…getting married an infinite number of times….

Note to self: Proof reading works better if you do it before clicking submit.

7 09 2010

I have the same problem with proofreading too late, despite a bona fide university journalism degree (which lucky for me and my spouse, may be worthless but at least didn’t run up student loan debt.)

8 09 2010
Luke Holzmann

I don’t see the “pro-business” side of this article. This article seems to be higher education = high debt with little chance of making more to pay it back. …but that’s been a long-standing (and growing) problem with college tuition.

And just as you don’t marry a single person but their family as well, you also marry a person’s financial obligations… and those are significant factors that a responsible couple must address…


8 09 2010

Sorry to take that bloggy shortcut, Luke. Let me elaborate (hey, you asked!) 😉

You’re right about higher education generally, loading down all but the most privileged individuals and young families with student loan debt as they start out. (Only in America btw — Europe is much more enlightened about higher education, according to the OP article.)

That’s not the “pro-business” attitude I meant here, but there IS an unseemly pro-business profit motive tainting all higher education now, not just in student loans. Take for example how Big Business drives higher ed spending into building lavish university facilities, because that turns non-profit education tax dollars into contracts for private sector profit.

College Costs: Who Cares, and Why Thinking Parents Care About Who Doesn’t

And what about colluding with school administrators to treat students as a captive audience for all sorts of Big Business for-profit exploitation in their supposedly non-profit educational environment?

College Kids Sold Out By Their Own Schools

Those Who Would Like to Pre-Approve Us All

There are lots of ways that rapaciously rich, regulation-phobic “pro-business” forces intrude into traditional public and not-for-profit education — everything from charter school scams to corrupting university research and policy studies — all of which harms rather than helps both students and the nation both educationally and economically, the very “America” pro-business zealots claim to love as patriots, yet whose Dream they spell out in dollar signs and fight over, not FOR.

But all that said, THIS POST is most specifically about Bad Business ripping off Good Education, targeting the most vulnerable, least educated students for their scams and using them to bleed dry the public student loan program, with wildly profitable results for themselves, but ruined individual lives even more desperate than before they were exploited with no hope of recovery, and the rest of us left holding the bag.

DH is a certified fraud investigator who for the past couple of years, has been all about for-profit college frauds and scams using federal student loan programs to seduce students into worthless courses and degrees. It’s ruining individual lives, driving up unemployment, bleeding public coffers of funds meant to help educate a diverse citizenry and provide equitable opportunities to every young person regardless of inherited privilege — yet the same politics calling for pro-marriage and pro-family policies, spends big bucks to protect and defend these for-profit businesses so they can continue profiting from ravaged individuals, marriages, families and national economy.

Student Loans: The Next Mortgage Meltdown

Get Giant Lenders Off Corporate Welfare

For-Profit College Saddles Students With Massive Debt, Little Value

8 09 2010

From late 2007, see Any Price Too High for Higher Education:

Favorite Daughter wrote this about what some young folks are willing to do, to pay their college tuition.

I read something last month about college students at prestigious universities willing to sell their supposedly priceless self-governing franchise, the right to vote — forever! — in return for nothing more than getting their tuition and student loans paid off. What ARE they learning from their higher “education” and what’s the point, if not to exercise their own citizenship in progressive, productive ways that benefit themselves and society?

But was our bemusement premature? Maybe we should’ve saved it for students so committed to higher education they would commit armed robbery to pay for it.

Maybe it’s time we all reminded ourselves that the meaning of priceless “higher education” isn’t exactly this notion that no price is too high for merely seeming to possess it? And that academic freedom ought to be, if nothing else, free?

8 09 2010


. . .[S]ome university presidents are in practice shamelessly playing for institutional reputation, recruiting by rankings, weeding and culling and shuffling students like playing cards for the next bet, grasping for the top and misrepresenting the truth, all for institutional glorification bigger to them than the import of any individual students underserved, unserved or downright devastated by the “lesson” —

Howard Gardner makes the point less offensively, but he’s saying the same thing. Presidents have lost their way no less than status-focused sorority recruiters . . .

[Dave Ramsey’s] point was that quality college prep should mean your child becomes sufficiently motivated and equipped to earn whatever wages and scholarship support will help him achieve real value from a real education, not just faux value from a fancy sheepskin.

. . .Nothing about academic education is simple and easy to get the right answers to, even if you’re rather well-educated yourself. It takes real work! 🙂

Speaking of student loans, GOOD magazine has a double-truck graphic showing college loan debtors rising like so many hot air balloons (wonder if that insulting visual pun is intended?) — since the turn of the millennium, the number of graduating seniors $40,000 or more in debt has nearly doubled. The total federal student loan debt is now $492 billion-with-a-B.

8 09 2010

Back to Luke’s comment, after all that:
those are significant factors that a responsible couple must address…

Okay. Are they ALSO significant factors that a responsible corporate interest must address?

8 09 2010
Luke Holzmann

Thanks, JJ! The added explanation makes way more sense. Sorry, I was totally lost before and missed the connection.

As for “corporate interests”… I guess it depends on whose pulling strings and why. I freely admit I haven’t even begun to peruse the articles you link to, so I have no idea where the culprits are and what’s motivating them and why. So I can’t really answer that question. But I’m against unethical business practices, and I don’t like things that purposely hurt others in the interest of turning a profit… not a fan of those kinds of things at all.


8 09 2010

I figured you were a pretty ethical golden-rule kind of guy. 😉
Most people are naturally good (though not *perfect*) , or at least that’s what my science and ethics and preferred power of story all teach.

8 09 2010

More about that symbolic “responsible young couple” — how does “the Lord will provide” idea fit into that, in your religious and/or ethical view? (I’d like to believe those were the same thing but for some folks, they aren’t!)

We have Catholic and Baptist cousins for example, who are very poor and barely educated (so don’t blame student loans) yet keep having children they can’t be financially or educationally responsible for (to third-millennium standards anyway, maybe in the Dark Ages) — the idea seems to be that their first and only responsibility is to trust what the Church teaches and not do any family planning. To me it’s irresponsible if not shamefully unethical, both of the Church and then the couple it controls with its “education.”

So when we say “responsible” . . . surely it depends a lot on what we mean? Responsible for what, to whom, in what order of priority and at what price or penalty.

8 09 2010
8 09 2010

For the Future of Higher Education

The United States is a leader in higher education spending, but ranks only 10th among developed nations in its proportion of younger adults ages 25 to 34 with college degrees.

The U.S. is simply not getting enough value out of the money it spends. Ever-rising tuition and fees are not yielding enough degree holders, and graduating insufficient numbers of people will drastically impair the nation’s ability to maintain a strong economy.

. . .The challenge of increasing the percentage of college graduates is made more difficult by severe state budget cuts.

11 09 2010

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