That’s according to Andrew Gillen. If you have children or grandchildren who’ll be attending college or university, his report is essential reading. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
In November, the Department of Education released post graduate earnings and debt data broken down by college program — which will have a revolutionary impact on higher education. Students (and policymakers) can now get accurate information about how much recent graduates earned by college and degree (e.g., a Bachelor’s in Physics from Ohio State University).
While the data isn’t perfect (it only includes students who received federal financial aid and so far only lists earnings one year after graduation), the data is complete enough to generate two tsunamis that will hit higher education in rapid succession.
One tsunami is enhanced accountability for the hundreds of billions of dollars federal, state, and local governments provide to colleges each year — funds that have historically flowed regardless of graduates’ labor market outcomes … there are about 1 million graduates each year who received federal financial aid to attend a college program that does not pass a reasonable debt-to-income test.
Consider the field of law. For every professional law school program that passes GEE, there are eight that fail. Moreover, only 14% of students graduated from programs that would pass, whereas 69% of law students graduated from programs that would fail. Why should state and federal governments continue funding these programs?
But the second tsunami bearing down on higher education will be even bigger — informed choice on the part of students and parents.
For years we’ve asked students to make one of life’s most important decisions essentially blindfolded. We’ve told them a college degree is the surest path to success but have given them little guidance on where to go to college or what major to choose once they get there. As a result, too many students leave with a mountain of debt and a credential that isn’t worth much on the labor market. The new data will help equip students — and their parents — with the information necessary to avoid these costly mistakes in several ways.
There’s more at the link.
This is long overdue. I’ve long since lost count of the number of university students who graduate with degrees in subjects like ethnic, or environmental, or black, or latino, or asian, or feminist studies. (Don’t talk to me about underwater basket-weaving!) One finds them as baristas in coffee shops, or burger-flippers at fast food joints, or whatever. They owe tens of thousands of dollars in study loans, and expect you and I (the taxpayer) to “bail them out” by paying that debt for them. I have neither sympathy for, nor patience with them.
At least now (if they’re doing their job) parents and grandparents will be able to show their kids the real financial consequences of choosing a no-future-in-it degree – and, one hopes, refusing to fund anything along those lines, including providing accommodation and food if their offspring insist on wasting their higher education on such crap. Tough love? Sure it is – but it’s also real love, rather than the fake indulgence that allows kids to end up broke and unemployable.