Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Too much of a good thing, student loan edition

Here is Richard Vedder on why lowering the interest rates on student loans is not the answer. There is actually a sound economic argument for subsidizing education. Since slavery is illegal, poor students cannot offer sufficient collateral to obtain loans in the private market. But then put that argument alongside your own personal college experience. How many kids did you know who were really that poor? How many did you know who were spending most of their time emulating Bluto on Animal House? I was going for Otis.

Tutoring at George Mason has shown me the real problem: the sorry education students get before college. Many students come to me with calculus problems having never learned algebra. This creates an insurmountable barrier of intimidation.

The bottom line is that our universities are the envy of the world, and our K-12 is below par. This is because our university system atleast resembles a free market, whereas K-12 is dominated by a federal monopoly. Check out The Marva Collins Story to see what I mean.

Most European universities charge either a nominal tuition or none at all. I lived in Sweden for a while and attended Lund University. There is no Swedish word for tuition. They get student loans for beer money. The parties were great, the classes generally sucked. Do not expect any more Nobel prizes to come from Sweden. Also, do not expect to find any Swedes who cannot do algebra, or speak reasonably good English for that matter. There K-12 system does seem to work much better than ours. I'm not entirely sure why. I suspect it is more locally controlled than ours. Anyone know? Gisela?

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