Student Loans

Federal College Loan Sanction Fears Hit California Community Colleges

But we were told it's the for-profit colleges who were the bad guys!

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We're never going to get that money back, are we?

The Department of Education's efforts to punish colleges whose students default too much on their federal loans – an action undoubtedly aimed at for-profit colleges – has finally led to some reform in California. At community colleges. Who have decided to stop accepting federal loans. Whoops!

Erica Perez at California Watch offers more:

A small but growing number of California community colleges have stopped participating in the federal loan program, cutting off these borrowing options for students out of fear that rising student loan default rates could lead to sanctions.

Some 16 colleges have stopped disbursing the loans, and at least one more school – Bakersfield College – is considering ending its participation in the program. That makes California home to more students without access to federal loans than any other state, according to data collected by the Institute for College Access and Success, an Oakland-based nonprofit.

College officials say they stopped participating in federal loans because they were worried that an increase in student loan defaults would jeopardize their ability to offer federal grants. Colleges where students default on federal loans at high rates for several years in a row stand to lose eligibility for federal grants under sanctions issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

Access advocates complain in the piece that community colleges are overstating their risks, but Perez notes that students at Bakersfield College, currently considering ending federal loan offerings, have a 28 percent default rate on recent loans. Colleges where only a small percentage of students have federal loans are exempt from sanctions, and the California community college average is only three percent. But the list of colleges opting out included in the story is heavy on those that serve some of the poorer parts of California. Perez doesn't break down the individual college percentages, but it would not be a surprise if these colleges had a significantly higher percentage of federal loans than average.

Given the horrendous graduation rate at California's community colleges (25.3 percent), federal loans are probably a bad deal for both the taxpayers and the student. Given the extremely low costs to attend community college in the state and the resources available to cover even that, a need for a federal loan should probably be seen as a warning flag.

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  1. 25.3%? Why is it so low? What’s the national average?

    1. My guess is that the quality of education provided at community colleges in CA is so poor that students either drop out after the first year or they transfer other schools as soon as they can and graduate from there.

      1. If they’re defaulting on their loans, they’re probably not graduating from anywhere.

        1. If they’re defaulting on their loans, they’re probably not graduating from anywhere.

          True. I was merely proposing a possible reason why CC in CA graduate only 25.3% of their students while their public state universities seem to be doing much better.

          1. Yeah, was my bad, I misread the last paragraph there in my excitement.

          2. That’s 25% graduate with an associate degree after three years. So if you’re doing it part time because you’re working during the day, transfer to a 4 year without getting an associate’s, or just decide you got whatever classes you needed and no more, all of those are counted. I’d like to see the numbers for students on academic probation or expelled. Those would give a better idea of the non-hackers.

      2. Community college–in any state–is nothing more than Grades 13-14. You have the rare instructor who might actually push the students’ abilities, but most of them are typically full-time professionals in other fields who are trying to keep their workloads small.

        1. More reason not to sink federal dollars into students attending them.

          1. Agreed–plus, compelling a bunch of average-IQ strivers to take out a bunch of debt for what are essentially remedial courses is damn near close to fraud.

            It’s one thing if you’re taking out debt to go to the Ivy League, or any other first-tier college–the actual education you receive might be questionable, but those places are made for establishing a network for jobs after graduation these days, not broadening your intellect. It’s fiscally suicidal to do that for Math 101 and History 101.

            1. It’s one thing if you’re taking out debt to go to the Ivy League, or any other first-tier college–the actual education you receive might be questionable, but those places are made for establishing a network for jobs after graduation these days, not broadening your intellect. It’s fiscally suicidal to do that for Math 101 and History 101.

              ^This^ should be taught in high school.

              1. This should be taugth in grade school.

                1. I would support it as worth of a public service announcement as well.

                  1. *worthy* even

        2. Bullshit.

          I work for a Tier I research university in Texas which also happens to have a local community college 15 miles away. Many of their instructors are our doctoral students. I even know some professors that moonlight over there, and their courses are no less rigorous than they are here.

          Are there remedial courses? Sure. Most students in these classes are doing them as a part of workforce education… becoming mechanics, electricians, HVAC technicians, or welders. They don’t need to know advanced calculus.

          That said, taking out federal loans for these programs is a bad idea, but community colleges do a lot of the heavy lifting in higher education.

          1. I work for a Tier I research university in Texas which also happens to have a local community college 15 miles away. Many of their instructors are our doctoral students. I even know some professors that moonlight over there, and their courses are no less rigorous than they are here.

            How “rigorous” are we talking about here? Even in the mid-90s when I went to school, most of the prereq classes were littered with multiple choice/true-false “tests” that I could do in my sleep. Modern colleges aren’t exactly Plato’s collegium.

            Are there remedial courses? Sure. Most students in these classes are doing them as a part of workforce education… becoming mechanics, electricians, HVAC technicians, or welders. They don’t need to know advanced calculus

            No one said they did need to know advanced calculus, but that’s not the point–these people are paying thousands of dollars to learn BASIC math and reading that they should have been taught in high school. And how many of these students taking remedial courses are going straight into those blue-collar fields of study, and how many are transitioning to the largely pointless libarts disciplines?

            That said, taking out federal loans for these programs is a bad idea, but community colleges do a lot of the heavy lifting in higher education.

            When your student body can barely read or calcuate at an 8th grade level, it takes a lot of work to get them up to 12th-grade standards, if that.

            1. How “rigorous” are we talking about here?

              Engineering Calculus and Principles of Accounting are two that I know of. I’m sure there are more.

              No one said they did need to know advanced calculus, but that’s not the point–these people are paying thousands of dollars to learn BASIC math and reading that they should have been taught in high school.

              As long as it’s their money, I don’t care.

              And how many of these students taking remedial courses are going straight into those blue-collar fields of study, and how many are transitioning to the largely pointless libarts disciplines?

              I don’t know, I just know from my colleague who teaches math over there that those courses are designed to meet workforce certificate requirements. If a student wants to move on from there to do whatever, again, as long as they are the one paying for it, I don’t care.

              When your student body can barely read or calcuate at an 8th grade level, it takes a lot of work to get them up to 12th-grade standards, if that.

              Nearly a third of this particular college’s students end up transferring to a university. So you’re right, if they can take mostly 8th grade level students and get them accepted to a university, that’s pretty impressive.

              BTW, next time you are in the hospital, I dare you to tell your nurse how worthless you think a community college education is.

              1. Nearly a third of this particular college’s students end up transferring to a university. So you’re right, if they can take mostly 8th grade level students and get them accepted to a university, that’s pretty impressive.

                Having TA’d in grad school, I’d say you’re vastly overestimating their abilities. Getting accepted to a university isn’t exactly a difficult thing these days.

                BTW, next time you are in the hospital, I dare you to tell your nurse how worthless you think a community college education is.

                That’s the kind of retort I’d expect from someone defending a hugely dysfunctional system.

                1. And here’s how successful those community colleges are in producing graduates:

                  But despite that increased focus on excellence, community colleges are still struggling to graduate students. According to the report, Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future, less than half of students who enter a community college graduate or transfer to a four-year college within six years.

                  http://www.usnews.com/educatio…..remain-low

                  So spare me the butthurt regarding how wonderful community colleges are, and how the money required to attend them is justified.

          2. Are you referring to AampersandM and Blinn Collegedergarden?

      3. I went through a California CC, they are actually very affordable if you’re looking for an AA or just transfer credits. I managed to pay for all my expenses out of pocket without any loans before transferring to a UC.

        1. I’m not knocking Community Colleges. There is obviously a market for them. But I agree that federal loans for students who attend them are not necessarily a good investment of our tax dollars.

    2. I think all CC’s are low, because they take anyone who has a diploma or GED. Check out a community college’s math courses some time. A local one has intro math courses that include fractions and “operations with integers” – which sounds like a slick way of saying “addition, subtraction, multiplication and division” to me.

      MAT 0018 DEVELOPMENTAL MATHEMATICS I

      Prerequisite(s): Appropriate score on the SPC mathematics placement test. This is the first course in the college-preparatory two-course sequence (MAT 0018 and MAT 0028) designed to prepare students for college-level mathematics courses. This course is a study of the basic skills and concepts of pre-algebra from the point of view of the college student who needs an understanding of pre-algebra. Major topics include operations with integers, fractions, decimals, percents, geometric figures and their measures (including application problems), and other pre-algebra topics.

      A student who is so far behind that they have to take 2 courses just to get to college Algebra is going to have to have a lot of persistence to finish even a 2 year degree.

      1. There’s more to life than math, bruh. I barely passed MATH 75 in college, and never looked back.

        1. There’s more to life than math

          LIES!

        2. I wasn’t thinking “hey these people suck at math,” I was thinking “there are a lot of shitty schools.” If they have to play catch up for at least a year in Math and English, it’s an extra burden.

          When I got my undergrad, I did algebra “finite math” – which was the course for people who thought they were never, ever going to crack a math book after that.

          1. …algebra AMPERSAND finite math…

          2. I actually used what I learned in College Algebra and Geometry over the summer to help me determine the correct amount of sod I needed to re-sod a section of my very small front lawn. Originally i guessed that it would take about 300 square feet. Once I took some measurements and did the math to determine the area of the oddly shaped portion of my lawn, I realized that it would really only take 280 square feet. That saved me about $33. Now I just need an excuse to re-sod my lawn another 18 times and those math courses will have paid for themselves.

          3. Shitty schools, dumb kids, or ones who need a refresher because they didn’t go right after high school.

            I was in the third category. I took calc in HS, but by the time I took another math class in college years later I was way down into the remedial catalog. Sucked for the ego, but oh well.

        3. I barely passed MATH 75 in college, and never looked back.

          And how’s that engineering job working out for you?

          1. It’s funny reading about pre-algebra being remedial math.

            Where I went, if you deemed math deficient you took algebra and trigonometry concurrently first semester to get your ass on the calculus track ASAP.

  2. This story is good news. Maybe change the title to, “California CCs Refuse Some Federal Subsidies.”

    1. Yeah, but they’re only refusing them out of fear of losing a larger amount of federal subsidies.

      1. Gotta start somewhere. Lets build some positive momentum with this.

        1. Enough momentum so that the state breaks off and sinks? So that Luthorvill and Otisburg finally become oceanfront properties?

          1. Otisburg? OTISBURG??!!

  3. Lest we get too giddy, let me remind you that students and administrators alike are eager to pass the California Middle Class Scholarship. God forbid we fail to keep inflating that education bubble.

    The stupid in this article is breathtaking.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..84647.html

    1. Yeah–it seems to have slipped their mind that a middle class family could theoretically afford to send at least one of their kids to college 40 years ago without taking out five figures of debt, and the kid could even work his or her way through if they had the gumption.

      These people are like Seymour constantly trying to find a way to feed Audrey II before it eats them alive.

      1. Not only that, but it’s just so many of the people I know, fellow students, that are supporting the bill are history, poli sci, and other social science majors that won’t likely get them a job after graduation other than a government job. So for them to insist that a bankrupt state raise taxes and make doing business here more arduous so we have more people with unnecessary degrees is incredibly short-sighted.

        1. Agreed–and I say that as someone with a history Master’s whose job prospects will forever be limited largely to government and non-profit organizations dependent on government dollars.

          Unlike a lot of my fellow libarts degree holders, however, I understand that our society needs plumbers, too, and without them, we won’t have jobs.

          1. There must be some way to branch out. For example, have you considered running a historically-accurate den of ill repute for the upper classes?

            1. There must be some way to branch out. For example, have you considered running a historically-accurate den of ill repute for the upper classes?

              Reason already has that with their message boards, so I’d hardly be filling a hole in the market.

  4. The Department of Education’s efforts to punish colleges whose students default too much on their federal loans ? an action undoubtedly aimed at for-profit colleges ? has finally led to some reform in California. At community colleges. Who have decided to stop accepting federal loans. Whoops!

    I can’t see this as anything other than a step in a positive direction. Community colleges are glorified high schools that shouldn’t require a federal loan to pay for tuition. $100 per credit hour is the max they should be charging in this day and age, and even that is pushing it.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–college tuition is a bigger racket than the housing bubble. The old financing model of the last 30 years is going to force these kinds of changes organically. Every reform the managerialists try is only going to hasten the collapse of the old model for something more sustainable, or the entire college structure is going to collapse.

    1. I could get a better education watching Khan Academy videos for free. $100/hour is insane.

      1. Like I said, even that is pushing it. That’s what I paid for my undergrad degree at the four-year urban commuter college I attended in the mid-90s, and it was one of the cheaper options.

  5. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–college tuition is a bigger racket than the housing bubble.

    Please keep saying it. We can only hope that someday the right people will listen.

    1. Community college is over-rated.

      1. Community college is over-rated.

        FIFY

        1. Tittie fukcing is overated.

          Seems to change the context a bit too much.

          1. Blow jobs are over-rated.

  6. This shocks me – the government, forcing money into people’s hands…simply in order to then tell them how they are now supposed to use it? This is a stange and frightening concept. Its a good thing they don’t do this in any other area of life, like agriculture, or healthcare, or other parts of education. That would probably create massive distortions in how the market works, and necessitate endlessly expanding bureaucracy to control the increasing spending, then tracking and regulating those receiving it, and creating even further ‘administration’ simply to track how the rest of the ‘administration’ is working. At a certain point it would probably become so labyrinthine that no one would be able to comprehend the total system anymore, so trapped in the needless complexity of any one part, that reform itself would become inconceivable.

    Thank god this insanity was stopped in its tracks!

  7. If Obama wanted to guarantee his reelection (and stick his toe in the door of president and grand poobah for life), he would go ahead and have the Department of Education forgive all loans currently in default with the promise of a second “loan amnesty” in the future. All of the dense collegians would love him forever, even as he fucked them blind with tax increases and more regulatory capture.

    1. And the best part is, he’d only have to do it once. That would not only ensure the votes of the grads currently in default, his vote with the dumbshit college student crowd would match the percentages of the black vote, assuming they could just not pay because Santa Obama would take care of things.

      Then, when he broke the promise for a second amnesty, he could just blame it on “Rethuglicans” blocking his grand reforms. Neither of those voting blocs are sophisticated enough intellectually to even consider that he was playing a game of three-card monte with them.

      1. Since Barry believes that Executive power is absolutely free from legislative or judicial checks (at least while he is in office) I’m not sure why he is so gunshy as to pull the trigger on this. It’s not as if he feels shame when it comes to buying votes.

    2. That would cost a lot of money. And infuriate the hell out of people like me who paid off our student loans.

      And it wouldn’t be just once, pretty much everyone would expect free college after that so more money.

      1. It’s not like you were voting for Barry anyway. Besides, you’re a dirty kulak-wrecker-counterrevolutionary who needs to shut up and pay your fair share.

  8. “If Obama wanted to guarantee his reelection (and stick his toe in the door of president and grand poobah for life), he would go ahead and have the Department of Education forgive all loans currently in default with the promise of a second “loan amnesty” in the future. All of the dense collegians would love him forever, even as he fucked them blind with tax increases and more regulatory capture.”

    Never going to happen. He’ll talk about it to give the illusion that it is possible, but he has plans for that money. These people need Roadz and Bridgez too!

  9. Most of the people who need remedial arithmetic courses are not going to get even an associates degree. However, there are many people at CC’s for certificate programs and some of them need those remedial courses to be able to test into the courses they need for their certificates.

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