Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Frame

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.

Visual




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. 



Lit. Review #3






















Giroux, Henry A. and Rachel Cohen. Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education. Chicago, Illinois : Haymarket Books, 2014., 2014.

Neoliberalism is defined as "a modified form of liberalism tending to favor free-market capitalism". to dig a little further, for anyone who does not know, free-market capitalism can be defined as "a market without much government restriction wherein capitalism is encouraged". In Henry Giroux's book, Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education, the main premise is speaking about exactly how higher education has been led astray by the last several decades of policies in government, including a mostly neoliberal agenda put forth by every single president beginning with Ronald Reagan. Now we have a very dangerous man in office in Trump, who will most likely be the crowning cherry on top of the neoliberalist sundae. Higher education in the United States has never been in dire straights like these, and we all stand a chance to lose everything we have worked so hard for. Giroux's book is a great book for the simple reason that it can give ordinary students a voice in this process. Not only is he shedding light on the topic of our universities giving in to these neoliberal agendas, but he is allowing for the movement towards a truly democratic society, without these perceived threats from our own government and without the addition of more corruption in our political system.

Henry Giroux is an American and Canadian scholar who has published more than 60 books, 200 chapters, and 400 articles and is a renown publisher who is a devout advocate of radical democracy, which is exactly what neoliberalism is not. 

A key idea that Giroux speaks about very early is how neoliberalism is taking what we know as democracy and pitting its own principles against one another. Giroux is trying to hit the point home that freedom is literally its opposite in this "democratic" society we have built. 

Another key idea is something that I've spoken about in my other two lit. reviews, and seems to be a recurring theme (coincidence? I think not) is pay to play politics. Giroux now fully believes that our elections are bought and sold to the highest bidder. Our democracy has been dismantled, and we live in a time where human suffering is not coming to a close, but rather, is increasing. This is all due to pay to play politics and the rise of plutocracy, spoken about by Suzanne Mettler.

"Americans now live in an atomized and pulverized society, 'spattered with the debris of broken interhuman bonds,'  in which 'democracy becomes a perishable commodity'  and all things public are viewed with disdain" (Giroux 7).

"Neoliberal governance has produced an economy and a political system almost entirely controlled by the rich and powerful— what a Citigroup report called a “plutonomy,” an economy powered by the wealthy.  I have referred to these plutocrats as “the new zombies”: they are parasites that suck the resources out of the planet and the rest of us in order to strengthen their grasp on political and economic power and fuel their exorbitant lifestyles" (Giroux 9).

"Left unchecked, economic Darwinism will not only destroy the social fabric and undermine democracy; it will also ensure the marginalization and eventual elimination of those intellectuals willing to fight for public values, rights, spaces, and institutions not wedded to the logic of privatization, commodification, deregulation, militarization, hypermasculinity, and a ruthless “competitive struggle in which only the fittest could survive" (Giroux 16).

Another great source that will most certainly be used. Fits in perfectly with my research. Thanks again Professor!










Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Working Bibliography

Mettler, Suzanne. Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream. New York: Basic , a member of the Perseus Group, 2014. Print

Armstrong, Elizabeth, and Laura Hamilton. Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2013. Print.

Carlson, Scott. “When College Was a Public Good.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 63.15 (December 2, 2016): A04. Print and Web.

Collinge, Alan Michael. “The Rise of Sallie Mae and the Fall of Consumer Protections.” The Student Loan Scam. Boston: Beacon Press, 2009. Print.

Hillman, Nicholas W. "College on Credit: A Multilevel Analysis of Student Loan Default." The Review of Higher Education 37.2 (2014): 169-95. Web.

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 2015.2 (2015): 1-89. Web.

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

Research Proposal

Steven Nixon
Professor Goeller
Research in Disciplines: College!
Research Proposal

Working Title: Predatory Loans

Topic

I will go into detail describing what has happened to higher education, government funding, and student loans over the past several decades. We are currently at a point in time where 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.
Research Question
Why and how did these predatory schemes from the likes of our own government, banks, for-profit colleges/institutions, and large student loan corporations arise? And is our society going to continue along this path, or is there something that can be done about it?
Theoretical Frame
Beginning with the Presidency of Nixon and continuing strongly under the Reagan administration, student loans have become an essential cog in the flow of cash towards the government, banks, and large student loan corporations. In her book, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotage the American Dream, Suzanne Mettler brings to light how the “policyscape”, or political landscape, has changed over the preceding decades, which in turn has lead to the rise of plutocracy. Our politicians seem to be more concerned with private interests, wealthy donors, and the idea of “pay to play” politics. Over time, this system has gotten worse for the average American, and even worse for the average American student. It will be important to understand how the government has affected our lives so heavily so I can truly delve into the question of why this ongoing cycle has not stopped or slowed.
Research Plan
Luckily, there are several sources that I can use from this course that have been read, re-read, and analyzed during my own time and class. Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality by Armstrong and Hamilton will be a major source for my research as the idea of inequality can be linked with these predatory schemes put forth by government, banks, and the likes of Sallie Mae. The stories presented paint an underlying picture of the hardships fought by less affluent students just to continue in higher education. The book given to me by Professor Goeller, Degrees of Inequality, is certainly going to be the focal point of my research as it explains how we have been deceived over decades by politicians and policies to undermine all of the hard work put forth by legislation like the GI Bill and the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Student Loan Scam by Alan Collinge is another reading that has been used for discussion in this course that will be a heavy fallback for me. Although we only read the first chapter, I am going to read more of the book as a whole to get a better picture of the driving points made by Collinge. His first chapter is titled, “The Rise of Sallie Mae and the Fall of Consumer Protections”, and it was a great starting off point to have me thinking critically about these predatory actions put forth by Sallie Mae in addition to the government taking away some of our protections so Sallie Mae could become that much stronger.

Working Bibliography
Mettler, Suzanne. Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream. New York: Basic , a member of the Perseus Group, 2014. Print

Armstrong, Elizabeth, and Laura Hamilton. Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2013. Print.

Carlson, Scott. “When College Was a Public Good.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 63.15 (December 2, 2016): A04. Print and Web.

Collinge, Alan Michael. “The Rise of Sallie Mae and the Fall of Consumer Protections.” The Student Loan Scam. Boston: Beacon Press, 2009. Print.

Hillman, Nicholas W. "College on Credit: A Multilevel Analysis of Student Loan Default." The Review of Higher Education 37.2 (2014): 169-95. Web.

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 2015.2 (2015): 1-89. Web.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lit. Review #2


Nicholas, W. H. "College on Credit: A Multilevel Analysis of Student Loan Default." Review of Higher Education, vol. 37, no. 2, 2014, pp. 169-195 ProQuest Social Sciences Premium Collection

In Nicholas Hillman's article, College on Credit: A Multilevel Analysis of Student Loan Default, he analyzes several reasons why students default on their loans, exactly who is defaulting, and gives a brief overview of how policies have changed that have led to this crisis. Some of the topics analyzed include student demographics, which generally sees white students default less than African Americans; socioeconomic factors, which as you could guess, favors those in the upper class as far as loan repayment goes; academic experience, which provides the general statement that students who do not finish school are in much more danger than those who do; post-collegiate employment, which highlights struggles that can be faced during the time period after graduating in addition to the repayment of loans; and finally, institution level predictors of default, which asks if the business model of certain institutions can actually lead to default over the above topics. After all of this research, he goes even further, using data and analytical models to determine any potential relationships between student loan default and any of the topics above.

 Dr. Nicholas Hillman studies higher education finance and policy. His research focuses on how policies affect educational access and success. He serves as the co-chair of UW-Madison's Scholars Strategy Network and is a faculty affiliate in the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Center for Financial Security. He is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, and graduated with a Ph. D and an MPA from Indiana University. 

A key finding that Hillman states is that students who attend proprietary institutions, those with actual owners, have a much higher chance of defaulting on loans. This plays into the idea of for-profit colleges, and it makes sense that students attending these institutions have a higher chance of default. For-profit schools, which I will talk about during my research paper, usually leave students with useless prospects after graduation and a mountain of debt.

Another key finding that will also pan out during my research paper is the finding that minority students as well as those from lower-income families have "disproportionately high rates" of default. This links well with the ideas spoken about by Scott Carlson in that minorities are receiving the short end of the stick when it comes to the advancement of higher education, since it is almost non-existent during a time where more and more minorities are making up the constituency of higher education. 

"In most studies, the racial/ethnic background of students emerges as a consistent predictor of default: White students are less likely to default than students of color. For example, a study of borrowers at University of North Carolina Greensboro (Greene, 1989) found that African American students had greater default rates than their non-African American peers" (Hillman 174).

"It appears that, even beyond student-level characteristics, the institution in which a student enrolls has a strong relationship with borrowers’ ability to repay their federal student loan debts. More specifically, borrowers attending proprietary or private two-year institutions have greater odds of defaulting when compared against borrowers attending public four-year colleges" (Hillman 183).

"Perhaps more important for setting public policy, the patterns observed within the for-profit sector are particularly critical. To the extent that these institutions are recruiting low-income, minority students, who are single parents, then federal policy could do more to ensure that colleges are not unjustly exploiting these individuals to capitalize on their financial aid dollars" (Hillman 190)

This is yet another great finding that will most likely be used in my research paper because not only does Hillman go into detail discussing the certain topics that can lead to default, but also uses strong idealogical theory in talking about for-profit colleges and how they are taking advantage of students. After all, my research is meant to focus on how and why these predatory schemes were put into place, and if there is anything that can be done about it in the near future.