Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Feeding Bananas to Baboons: The Student Loan Program Is Designed to Shovel Federal Money to Colleges at Students' Expense

Years ago, I traveled through central Uganda in a Land Rover, accompanied by a native guide. As we came around a curve in the road, we surprised a large troop of baboons.  

All the baboons ran away. Large and small, the whole group fled into the woods. All but one.

The largest baboon was reclining against a tree when we appeared, and he stayed put. He was not afraid of us and wanted us to know it.

My guide stopped our vehicle so that we could observe this human-sized creature. The baboon stood up and slowly walked to my side of the Land Rover. My window was open, and soon he was standing only inches from me.

My guide had bought a bunch of Ugandan bananas (very tasty), and I offered one to the baboon. He stared directly into my eyes for a few seconds, which made me extremely uneasy. Finally, he grabbed the banana from my hand and walked away without the slightest sign of gratitude.

"I just did a stupid thing," I admitted to my guide, and he agreed. "Yes, Mr. Fossey, that was stupid."

Our federal government is doing stupid things with the student-loan program. Today, 45 million Americans hold student debt totaling $1.7 trillion, and millions of borrowers are in income-based repayment plans that last as long as a quarter of a century. The prime beneficiaries of all this largesse are colleges and universities. 

Have the colleges used this money wisely? No, they haven't. They raise tuition rates year after year because they know that students will take out ever-larger loans to pay their tuition bills.  They roll out expensive graduate programs that don't lead to good jobs. They overpay their administrators, who proliferate like feral hogs.

In essence, the feds have been feeding bananas to baboons. 

Although the colleges rake in billions of dollars each year from the student-loan program, they have nothing to say about its flaws. The presidents of the nation's most prestigious universities haven't endorsed bankruptcy relief for distressed student debtors. They haven't spoken out about the rapacious for-profit college industry. They've not criticized the Department of Education for garnishing elderly student debtors' Social Security checks.

Why haven't college leaders called for reforming the student-loan program? Because they don't give a damn. 

They just want their bananas.


Give me that goddamn banana.


8 comments:

  1. Elegant, concise, insightful, and sadly, accurate. And powerful.

    "The prime beneficiaries of all this largesse are colleges and universities. Have the colleges used this money wisely? No, they haven't. They raise tuition rates year after year because they know that students will take out ever-larger loans to pay their tuition bills. They roll out expensive graduate programs that don't lead to good jobs. They overpay their administrators, who proliferate like feral hogs. In essence, the feds have been feeding bananas to baboons."

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  2. A recent blog post titled "Malignant" from Prof. Scott Galloway echoes your sentiment. https://www.profgalloway.com/malignant/
    "After we’ve treated the tumor (debt), we have to cure the cancer (costs). Biden’s addressed the tumor, but he has no real plan for a cure. On Monday, the president tweeted he’s 'holding colleges accountable for jacking up costs without delivering value to students.' How? He’s going to create … a naughty list."

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  3. Hi, Glen. Thanks for commenting. I don't think President Biden has a plan for holding colleges accountable. He forgave billions of dollars of student debt owed by people who claim they were defrauded by for-profit institutions. Will DOE be able to recover that money from the for-profit colleges? Is it even trying to recover that money? I don't think so.

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    2. Agreed! More bananas are on the way! https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/bidens-income-driven-repayment-plan-would-turn-student-loans-into-untargeted-grants/

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  4. More bananas are on the way!
    https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/bidens-income-driven-repayment-plan-would-turn-student-loans-into-untargeted-grants/

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  5. The worthless university where I did my JD is building a new $150M administrative palace. They sent us shiny brochures to brag about it and ask us for money.

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  6. Palacious buildings and princely salaries for university administrators--part of the reason law school tuition prices have gone through the roof.

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