Saturday, February 14, 2015

28% of Students With Debt Don’t Know It

By Professor Doom

     Integrity. It’s something of an antiquated concept anymore, but it really is worth nothing that every accredited institution promises to act with integrity.

      The very first principle of the Principles of Accreditation for SACS accreditation, quoted above, says institutions need to act with integrity, it even specifically says that not acting with integrity is grounds for loss of accreditation. SACS, incidentally, is the accreditor for UNC, you know, the university that ran an 18 year scandal of bogus courses, firing whistleblowers, squelching investigations, falsifying documents, and lying extensively about the extent of the fraud.

     Excuses have been made for UNC—they really only intended academic fraud just for the athletes, and things just got out of hand. Whatever. The important thing for the gentle reader to understand is UNC is not special, not in terms of academic fraud, and not in terms of lack of integrity.

       Another obscure article highlights how ridiculous things are in terms of integrity:
     Adults reading this post would, and should, find that hard to believe. First, a quote explaining just how bad it is:

"About half of all first-year students in the US seriously underestimate how much student debt they have," according to the report.

Additionally, the report found that 28% of students with federal loans reported having no federal debt. Another 14% with federal loans said they had no student debt at all….”

      Really, over a quarter of students with federal loans don’t even realize it. Now, an adult should find this surprising, because an adult probably figured that student loan debt is like every other debt: you have to sign some forms, you have to go through a (sometimes extensive) credit check, you have to know how much you’re taking, and only after all that do you get handed a check.

      Student loan debt is nothing like that, however. The checks come much later than when the student signs up for classes, and payments come much, much, later, years after the loan is taken out. When the crime is committed of putting a student into debt without telling him, it can easily be 5 years before the student knows about it, when he’s asked for the first payment. By then, administrators will be long gone with the loot, I promise.

      The far more critical difference is the “sign some forms” part. See, a student, to qualify for debt, all he has to do is check a box saying “I am a degree seeking student.” And…that’s it. No credit check, and then the money flows, mostly to college administrators, but a trickle usually makes it to the student (although even public schools are looking to slurp up that last trickle).

     Oh, there’s one more thing for this loan to be accepted: the school must be accredited. Having brought a school through the accreditation process, it’s not all that hard to get considering the money involved…and UNC shows it’s pretty tough to lose.

     Poor kids. They have no idea how real loans are supposed to work, so they get suckered into this system. They only find out years later that they’ve saddled themselves with a lifetime of debt, one that cannot be removed via bankruptcy (heck, some student loans don’t even end in death, but “luckily” Federal loans generally do). The students can’t even get rid of the debt if their education is totally bogus, as, again, was demonstrated at UNC.

      An adult reader would be shocked at just how easy it is to qualify for student  loan checks, and having learned from hard experience, “there’s always a catch”, would immediately become suspicious at being handed so much money, but realize, your typical college student is fresh out of high school: not a child, but certainly not wise in the ways of the world. His parents, alas, figure the “accredited” school will take care of their child, little realizing the caliber of people running higher education today (and, these are the same people running accreditation).

     The kid just figures college works like public school: he shows up, and everything else is taken care of. Higher education takes care of those kids all right…in much the same way a stockyard takes care of cattle.

     But wait a minute here, as part of accreditation, schools promise to act with integrity. Taking advantage of people, kids or adults, in this manner is as far away from integrity as possible.

     Because these kids figure higher education is just like public education, many students really don’t have a clue what kind of expenses they are incurring at college:

“…Using nationally representative data, we find that about half of all first-year students in the U.S. seriously underestimate how much student debt they have,…”

     Administrators justify their vicious exploitation of children by saying “in the eyes of the law, they’re adults”, but even this is dodgy. As I’ve shown many times, much of college is sub-high school level, and a substantial percentage of college coursework is 6th grade or lower. In order for a student to get into a 6th grade level “college” course, he takes a placement test provided by the institution, documenting that he has the intellectual capacity of an 10 year old, or younger.

      So, it doesn’t matter if the kid’s chronological age places him as an adult, the institution has provided its own documentation that the kid is not mentally competent to function as an adult…and certainly not competent to understand the monumental risk he’s taking on with college loans. Admin signs him up anyway, laughing all the way to bank as it does so.

     What is being done to our college students is completely indefensible, and it’s very clear that a great many students are coming on campus and being outright deceived and exploited into taking student loans. If accreditation were legitimate about integrity (or much else, really), schools that did this to their students would instantly lose accreditation, much like accreditors say in writing. That’s really what should be done.

     Fix accreditation to fix higher education. Or you could just end the student loan scam altogether, a much better solution.

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