Sunday, April 30, 2017

Final Abstract and Works Cited

I will go into detail describing what has happened to higher education and student loans over the past several decades. We are currently at a point in time where neoliberalist and plutocratic ideologies have become the norm in our “democratic” society, and students of all backgrounds, even those who are more affluent than others, get less and less out of higher education, including higher student to teacher ratios, worsening job prospects after schooling, and inadequate useful tools/resources to help students thrive. Students as a collective are being charged higher tuition rates along with receiving less federal aid and being forced to take out more and more in loans from big banks and big corporations, like Sallie Mae, and also being swindled into attending for-profit institutions that look out for no interests except their own.

Works Cited
Arnold, Tom, Bonnie G. Buchanan, and J. Fiona Robertson. “The Journal of Structured Finance .” Institutional Investor Journals, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
Carlson, Scott. “When College Was a Public Good.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 Nov. 2016, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
Collinge, Alan. The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History, and How We Can Fight Back. Boston, MA, Beacon Press, 2009.

Giroux, Henry A. Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education. Chicago, IL, Haymarket Books, 2014.

Hasen, Richard L. “New Thinking on Rescuing Our Politics from Plutocrats –”, 20 Jan. 2016, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

Hillman, Nicholas W. “College on Credit: A Multilevel Analysis of Student Loan Default.” The Review of Higher Education, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 13 Nov. 2013, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
Looney, Adam, and Constantine Yannelis. “A Crisis in Student Loans? How Changes in the Characteristics of Borrowers and in the Institutions They Attended Contributed to Rising Loan Defaults .” Brookings, Brookings, 13 Sept. 2016, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.
Mettler, Suzanne. Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream. New York, Basic Books, a Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2014.
“Submerging Students.” Common Cause, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

Surowiecki, James. “The For-Profit-School Scandal.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2015, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lit. Review #5

Carlson, Scott. “When College Was a Public Good.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 27 Nov. 2016, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

In Scott Carlson's article, "When College Was a Public Good", he speaks about what has happened since the GI Bill in this country: the fact that as the population is growing more diverse with each passing day, support for efforts to make higher education easy to attain has dwindled. All starting with Ronald Reagan, pell grant cuts and hikes in tuition have been the norm over the last 40 years. After cutting a billion dollars out of pell grants, Reagan made it so that working- and lower-middle-class families would be hit the hardest; in other words, Reagan specifically wanted to make it harder on minorities to receive higher education, the pathway to upward social mobility. All through out the article, there are quotes from other scholars and statistics that prove this to be true. It is not merely coincidence. Aside from the education arena, the status of welfare is also considered, with minorities having a harder time getting it in the first place. So not only do the less affluent have a harder time with receiving higher education, but if you are also a minority, it a double whammy.

"Scott Carlson, who joined The Chronicle of Higher Education in 1999, writes about a range of issues: college management and finance, the cost and value of higher education, buildings, campus planning, energy, architecture, and sustainability. He also contributes to ideas coverage in The Chronicle Review. A former technology reporter at the Chronicle, he hosted the Tech Therapy podcast from 2007 to 2010, and he also ran the Buildings & Grounds blog with Lawrence Biemiller. Before coming to The Chronicle, Carlson worked at the Star Tribune and City Pages, both in Minneapolis, and at City Paper in Baltimore, where he wrote about arts and culture. He has also written for national magazines like the Utne Reader and Dwell, and has been a contributor to Grist, a popular site for environmental news. He has been a speaker at conferences and colleges across the United States and in Canada, talking about libraries, architecture, and sustainability. In 2006, Carlson was awarded first prize for beat reporting from the National Education Writers Association for his work covering academic libraries.
He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he studied English literature, with a concentration on contemporary literature and utopian/dystopian literature. In his spare time, he practices judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, grows vegetables organically, and tackles projects in his never-ending house renovation." -- The Chronicle of Higher Education
A key idea is the one I mentioned above: the fact that at a time where minorities are slowly becoming the majority, funding towards higher education has gone down, tuition has risen drastically, and higher education is slowly becoming privatized.
Another key idea is looking at what our politicians have done over the last 40 years, and realizing that it is not coincidence. Certain politicians want to keep America a private capitalist country, where the wealthy are already set up to succeed.
"By 2040 or earlier, America will be a majority-minority nation" (Carlson 13). 
"...the Reagan administration--with the help of conservative Southern Democrats--cut a billion dollars out of Pell Grants and other grant aid, shifting the emphasis of government support for higher education from taxpayer to bank-based federal loans" (Carlson 6).
"Public higher education has undergone a financial and conceptual shift: Once an investment covered mostly by the state to produce a work force and an informed citizenry, today it is more commonly shouldered by individuals and families, and described as a private benefit, a means to a credential and a job" (Carlson 9).
Being that this was one of the original articles given to us to read, it has been a great help in writing my paper as I agree with most of the points made by Carlson and the article fits in perfectly with my research, argument, and theory. 

Argument and Counter Argument

Over the last 40 years, a systematic disinvesting of higher education through plutocratic and neoliberal means has strangled our educational freedoms, allowing the private and for-profit sectors to grow uninhibited and trample the less affluent students/families in this country.
Simply put, the only counter argument that could be put forth comes from the wealthy politicians who feel that if you are not well off, you need to work harder to be well off and they are going to make you work harder in order to achieve that goal. Almost a majority of both the Senate and House of Representatives combined are millionaires (47 percent, according to one of my sources, Henry Giroux). This is outrageous. These systematic cuts in funding come at a perfect time for anyone trying to keep America "the way it has always been". Just at a time where minorities are slowly becoming the majority and wanting more from public higher education is when we started disinvesting and making it that much harder for the less affluent in this country to receive education. We no longer live in the times of "White America", but it sure still seems that way due to policies and legislation surrounding students. Anyone who is already well off deserves to be able to become more well off and anyone who is not well off needs to fight through the student loans and finding a good job just to start to build something. The system in place right now is designed for the already wealthy to succeed and the already poor to fail. In a time where the inequality is as worse as it has been since the 1920's, and the combined wealth of our Presidents cabinet is more than that of the bottom one third of this country combined, we are living in the beginnings of a plutocracy.


For my research paper, my chief case is Sallie Mae, a student loan corporation that takes advantage of American students by charging high interest rates, trying to trap you into default (which they make the majority of their money on), and charging penalties and late fees if you are late or miss payments. Thanks to our government, Sallie Mae has grown out of control. They spend a lucrative amount of money on lobbying in Congress, and as a result, legislation has been favorable towards Sallie Mae. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act of 2005 made it that even if you were to file for bankruptcy, you would still be liable for your student loans. Even loans guaranteed by the federal government are non dischargeable if you file for bankruptcy. Alan Collinge goes on to say, "The legislation was seen by experts as incontrovertible proof that the student loan industry, more than any other lending industry, held sway over the U.S. Congress" (Collinge 15). This is dangerous, to say the least. Letting Sallie Mae run rampant is the last thing American students need, but our government is full of politicians that only cater towards the needs of their wealthy constituents and industries, so their own wealth may increase. If it comes at the expense of the less-affluent American student, some politicians could care less.

Research on Sallie Mae: The Student Loan Scam, by Alan Collinge, the piece we read early in the semester

Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education, by Henry Giroux, a book that can be found online in the Rutgers Libraries catalogue

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Over the last couple of weeks with the help, advice, and resources given to me by Professor Goeller, the main construction of my argument deals with our government and how it has disadvantaged higher education and American students through policies rooted in neoliberalism, and ultimately how I feel that our democracy has slowly started to become something like a plutocracy. Between Suzanne Mettler and Henry Giroux, the evidence that our politicians care only about themselves, their money, and their wealthy constituents is heavily prevalent. Starting with Ronald Reagan, neoliberalism has been on the rise, and every president since then has carried a neoliberalist agenda. This plays a determining factor in why our country has shifted from a democracy towards a plutocracy, which is a government by the wealthy. Whether it is Sallie Mae lobbying in Congress for more student loan rules or allowing for-profit institutions to thrive and award graduates with useless prospects and a mountain of debt, the rich continue to get richer and the poor continue to get poorer, thanks to Uncle Sam. The inequality in this country is as bad as it was in the 1920's, and the privatization of higher education and the student loan crisis, both due to our government, is a key factor.


I would say this cartoon is a perfect visual that fits the overall argument of my paper. Essentially, our government has led higher education down the road of privatization, making college more of a private good that leads to students being forced to take out thousands of dollars in loans instead of receiving aid. Over the last 40 years, the rise of neoliberalism and the shifting of our democracy to a plutocracy is eerily prevalent. In this cartoon, a recent college graduate is drowning (I would like to say he is drowning in student loan debt) and the man in the boat, who represents Congress, is throwing him a cinder block with the words "Student Loan Interest Rate" on it instead of a life jacket, or something that could be used to save him. The idea is that even if the graduate was able to swim to shore and/or keep his head above water, the student loan interest rate is going to drown him even more, not help him at all.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lit. Review #4

Looney, Adam, and Constantine Yannelis. “A Crisis in Student Loans?: How Changes in the Characteristics of Borrowers and in the Institutions They Attended Contributed to Rising Loan Defaults.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, vol. 2015, no. 2, 2015, pp. 1–89., doi:10.1353/eca.2015.0003.

In this article, A Crisis In Student Loans?: How Changes in the Characteristics of Borrowers and in the Institutions They Attended Contributed to Rising Loan Defaults, Looney and Yanellis speak about, well, exactly what the title is. There is driving research over the last few decades that indicate a rise in the prominence of the for-profit sector of universities in addition to the how and why students borrow loans adds up to the worst crisis this country has seen involving higher education and the ever growing field of student loans and ever growing debt pool of student debt. Clearly seen through research, student loan default rates are much higher from students who are either: low on their/their families income bracket, and/or attend for-profit institutions. The reason they default can be attributed to the same couple of factors that I have been seeing over and over again in my research: they attend for-profit institutions focused on...profit, they are left with useless prospects after schooling, and also left with few to no opportunities in the work force after schooling is completed. As time has moved forward, so has the for-profit higher education industry. Enticing students to sign up with bonuses and features, students are lulled into a false sense of security by for-profits, making them feel as if they have a strong fighting chance when they graduate with their degree. Contrary to what they were told, they graduate their chosen institution with thousands of dollars of debt and a pretty useless degree. The real jobs to be had in today's market all go to students who have graduated from public and private universities with even low levels of prestige and a marketable degree.

Adam Looney is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis at the U.S. Treasury. In that role, he advises the Secretary on economic issues related to tax policy, analyzes current and proposed legislation, and provides the official receipts forecasts and revenue estimates for the Administration’s budgets. Prior to joining the Treasury, he served as the Policy Director of The Hamilton Project, and was Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. Previously, Looney served as the senior economist for public finance and tax policy with the President's Council of Economic Advisers and was an economist at the Federal Reserve Board. He received a PhD in economics from Harvard University and a BA in economics from Dartmouth College.

Constantine Yannelis joined New York University Stern School of Business as an Assistant Professor of Finance in July 2016. Professor Yannelis conducts research in finance and applied microeconomics. His research focuses on consumer finance, public finance, human capital and student loans. His recent research explores repayment, information asymmetries and strategic behavior in the student loan market. Professor Yannelis’ academic research has been featured in The Wall Street JournalFinancial TimesThe New York TimesThe Washington PostThe EconomistBloombergForbes and other media outlets. Before joining NYU Stern, Professor Yannelis worked at the United States Department of the Treasury, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago as an Associate Economist. He received his B.A. in Economics and History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his M.A. in Applied Mathematics from Université de Paris I: Panthéon-Sorbonne. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University.
The first key idea spoken about by Looney and Yanellis that seems prevalent to my research is this strong, connected relationship between: -type of school attended and -loan non-repayment. Students at for-profits and 2 year universities have much higher rates of default simply because the students who choose to attend those types of institutions are generally from low income families, are older than traditional borrowers, come from a disadvantaged living area, and have worse labor market outcomes after schooling is completed. 
A second key idea would be somewhat repetitive, but it definitely stems from the first key idea. There has been progress since 2008, the beginning of the Great Recession. But there is still going to be uncertainty heading forward about what will actually happen with higher education, and more specifically, the policies put in place that will either help or hurt for-profit institutions taking advantage of the less-affluent.
"With poor labor market outcomes, few family resources, and high debt burdens relative to their earnings, default rates skyrocketed" (Looney et al. 2). 
"The fact that new borrowing exceeds new enrollment at for-profit institutions, and that the ratio increased so rapidly among 2-year public students, and increased rapidly relative to the number of active borrowers is also important because it indicates that the level of churn through such institutions increased. As a result, for a given level of enrollment, there were a disproportionately large number of new borrowers being produced" (Looney et al. 15).
"In all, the rise of non-traditional borrowing shifted the composition to borrowers more likely to struggle with their loan burdens—toward older, mid-career borrowers; borrowers from more disadvantaged family backgrounds and poorer neighborhoods; and toward programs many were less likely to complete" (Looney et al. 20).
This research would definitely be considered more help towards supplemental research and data. While there is not necessarily any strong theory to be considered, the theory they are using is theory that I am familiar with and have been seeing in my other research. For example, all three quotes provided have more to do with statistical data than theory, but that will still be very helpful for me when needing a quote containing important data for my paper.