John, at what point did you get the idea that banks are to blame for everything? Or that everybody on the left believes that and should try to defend that proposition.
There is also a difference between a liberal education and a training school which has been lost over the years. The public at large has come to think that a liberal education ought to supply job skills training. That is a confusion of purposes. A degree in engineering used to be available at an engineering school. Mining engineers yused to be trained in mining schools and doctors, without benefit of prior pre-medical training, used to be trained in Medical schools. Law schools used to be apprenticeships and then an exam. These were professions with skills that didn't really need a college education in the Arts or in the Sciences.
I think they probably still don't, and that a liberal arts education is not what people in these professions, for the most part, want. They want training so they can make money and have a certain amount of status. I don't know a lot of people in these professions who read more than professional or pulp literature for the rest of their lives, and I don't know many who make a point of reading outside their own political viewpoint, religious viewpoint or cultural viewpoint unless forced to do so.
There are some extraordinary exceptions, and I love finding them, too many for me to say that I've run across a rule, enough to say that most people don't want a liberal education, whose function is to teach the student to think. Most people, I'd have to say, tend to want an education that pays for itself in cash, and resent having to pay for one that gives such ephemeral results.
I think pure training programs would be cheaper. And a liberal arts education is probably wasted on most of the people who'd rather simply be a doctor, or a lawyer or an engineer or a clergyman.
Why are college educations so expensive?
Because colleges are wasting their time training people instead of educating them, which means there are too many of them with too many duplicated structures which duplicate costs unnecessarily, especially administrative costs. They are in competition for the same money from donors, which makes endowment money difficult to come by. The costs of education aren't usually covered by tuition and fees; each student is frequently a cost liability for the college and requires an expenditure from the endowment. Students, even paying full freight, don't usually pay for the full cost of their educations. And during tough economic times, the size of the endowments tends to go down because the market will go down, because all investments in the endowment don't make money, and because of inflation.
Inflation is tough to figure because it is not only objective, but subjective as well. I have two subjective measures I go by because they're meaningful to me, not because they're exact measures. I was looking at candy bars the other day. I saw an old favorite of mine, a three musketeers bar, selling for a dollar. When I was a kid, it was a nickle. When I was an undergraduate, it was a dime.
I quit smoking cigarettes when I was about 25. I'd been smoking three packs a day for years, and the price had just hit $.40 a pack. It depends where you buy them these days, but ten to twelve times that amount isn't all that out of line. And the cost of tuition that John's friend reports is in the same range.
If you want to ask what effect the banks have on that, I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of that money these days is directly on loan from the government and what percentage is through a bank and what profit the bank makes on top of the rate the government charges, and what the penalties and fees the bank charges over and above what the government has asked for?
I don't know the answers to these things, but I have doubts that the banks would handle business that wasn't profitable for them. Perhaps others know of efforts on the part of the banking industry to rid themselves of this, but I don't. I suspect that a less expensive way might be found to manage these loans so that they'd be cheaper for the students and involve less processing and paperwork all around, siumply by cutting the banks and their profit margin out of the picture.
Doesn't that qualify as corporate welfare?