3 Things

To get into college, only a few bribe--but everyone pays...

Are you incensed over rich people cheating to get their kids into 'elite' colleges?

Yeah, me too.

Thus far, my two “favorite” examples are: 1) the investment bank CEO who bought his kid a water polo ball and cap on Amazon…and then had a photoshopped picture of said kid displaying said gear to support submission for an athletic scholarship; and, 2) actress Lori Loughlin not only paying bribes to get her kid into USC…but also demanding the fixer fill out the entrance application because she and her daughter couldn’t figure it out. 

But what really bugs me about all this is that the schools involved apparently will pay no penalty whatsoever— “hey, that was our athletic director, not us!  We didn’t know!”  Good teaching moment there. Shameful. 

So, three things this week are devoted to the overall scam of college costs, particularly at the most elite schools:

  1. Endowments.  Four of the top five cash balances in American education belong to Ivy League schools.  The biggest one, at Harvard, contains more money ($39 billion) than the surplus on hand for any state (most of which are in debt).  The guy who runs it makes $6 million a year.  What’s more, these prestigious schools regularly use offshore “blocker corporations” to avoid taxes and hide dubious investments from the prying eyes of students and the rest of the world.  Harvard has so much money that it could fully pay the tuition for all its undergraduates for more than 100 years. 

  2. Student debt.  Two out of every three undergrads walk off campus with a degree—and heavy debt. The average is more $29,000 (higher for private schools).  Those willing to perform public service can reduce or eliminate that load.  Last year, 1.17 million applied for this relief.  Fifty-five (55) succeeded. 

  3. Textbooks.  In recent years, the cost of college textbooks has jumped more than three times faster than the consumer price index…and well more than twice the cost of housing.  The average yearly cost for books is now more than $1,100—just for books! And if you’re old enough to remember the wisdom of buying used books (hopefully with someone else’s notes neaty included), know that those days are fast disappearing.  Many texts today come with online access codes connecting students to added require reading, and even exams.  Those codes are one-time-only…which means your shiny and expensive new book is useless to anyone else. 

The truth is, almost all parents want a good education for their kids.  It’s just that most of us aren’t willing to bribe and cheat to get it.

For everyone entering college, there’s just one guarantee: you may or may not get a good education.  But you will get soaked.