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Imagine Going $300,000 Into Debt for a Master’s Degree and No Job Prospects

Imagine Going $300,000 Into Debt for a Master’s Degree and No Job Prospects

“In about a dozen Columbia master’s programs, the majority of recent graduates weren’t repaying the principal on their loans”

The Wall Street Journal recently did an in-depth report on students who have taken on massive debt for master’s degrees only to end up working menial jobs. This is absolutely criminal.

The WSJ piece is behind a paywall, but The College Fix posted excerpts:

‘Financially hobbled for life’: The elite master’s degrees that don’t pay off

As calls to “cancel” student debt continue unabated, the Wall Street Journal recently ran an investigative piece looking at schools who are baiting students into taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of loans by promising them payoffs that never happen.

The WSJ targeted Columbia University, which has issued “thousands of master’s degrees that don’t provide graduates enough early career earnings to begin paying down their federal student loans,” according to the story:

Lured by the aura of degrees from top-flight institutions, many master’s students at universities across the U.S. took on debt beyond what their pay would support, the Journal analysis of federal data on borrowers found. At Columbia, such students graduated from programs including history, social work and architecture.

Specifically, the WSJ looked at Columbia University’s film studies graduate department, and the students that ended up with loans they could never repay:

“As a poor kid and a high-school dropout, there was an attraction to getting an Ivy League master’s degree,” said Mr. Clement, 41. He graduated in 2020 from Columbia, borrowing more than $360,000 in federal loans for the degree. He is casting for an independent film, he said. To pay the bills, he teaches film at a community college and runs an antique shop.

Columbia grad students who borrowed money typically held loans that exceeded annual earnings two years after graduation in 14 of the school’s 32 master’s degree programs tracked by the Education Department, the Journal found. In about a dozen Columbia master’s programs, the majority of recent graduates weren’t repaying the principal on their loans or took forbearance, according to data released for the first time this year.


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No wonder college free or total debt repayment is a big hit for Leftists.
Join the military, see some of the world and get paid for it was my plan.

Film studies? They spend hundreds of thousands on degrees in Film Studies and expect to get high paying jobs???

There are two problems here. One is that there is such a thing as a master’s program in film studies. The other is that the people attracted to it are imbeciles!

    CorkyAgain in reply to irv. | July 11, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    One wonders what can be learned from a master’s program in film which couldn’t be learned for free on the Internet, along with a much cheaper subscription to Netflix and/or Amazon Prime.

    henrybowman in reply to irv. | July 12, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    “I have a big test coming up in my ‘Intersectionality and Feminist Activism’ class… I’m vegan, I’m over my Sabbath phase and more into Fiona Apple, and I’m donating all the money you left me in the shed to AOC’s future presidential run. [Niko and I are] cohabitating — the institution of marriage is inherently patriarchal. Is there anything else you want to judge me for?”
    –DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, 7/11/21

    Hope you paid your tuition before AOC, darling.

Sorry, but those who entered those programs failed to properly check out the financial implications of their choices. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay off that ignorance. Institutions like Columbia should be required to own up to their greed by being ineligible for federal student loan aid.

Anonymous Bosh | July 11, 2021 at 11:20 am

Outside of professional degrees (JD, MD, MBA etc.) most MA degrees are a cash cow and a crime. I can think of many creative solutions, but none would be in the best interests of college bean counters.

[Also, certain MA degrees can be detrimental, indicative at times of a cratered PhD candidate: You think anyone *aims* for an MA in astronomy?]

As for an MA in film studies (or, worse, “writing” of some sort): Study film on your own and start writing reviews and developing your own content rather than *paying* to watch movies. The ppl who succeed in such areas don’t need no stinkin’ degree: They do what they do because they it’s like breathing. (You think Charles Bukowski needed a degree? You think he *cared* about “success”? For him, it was write or die—or, in his case, write *and* die.)

Or hook up with an employer and take online/night classes. Or, if you can’t partner with an employer, find *any* work until you find *your* work. (Faulkner was *grateful* for his overnight factory job: It gave him time to write.)

I recognize the insanity of requiring, e.g., museum art historians at $40k/year to hold a $200k degree, so perhaps some innovative negotiations—individually, collectively, and between employers and universities—are called for (rather than baa-baa baarowing). Some way to better secure a position *then* procure a degree. Indeed, I’d bet many newly minted, highly motivated BAs do just that—and why *wouldn’t* an employer prefer that over a Gauloise-smokin’, Starbucks-suckin’, soft-palmed ne’er-do-well of a spoiled child?

In the private sphere, I’ll note that individual donors can diminish or solve the issue. David Geffen, for example, recently endowed Yale’s graduate theater program with sufficient funds so as to forego tuition. Of course, given fungibility, universities could do the same, but why would they?

I’d like to see some sort of employer/university hookup, say,

As for the students themselves, maybe a little research might have helped.

    Anonymous Bosh in reply to Anonymous Bosh. | July 11, 2021 at 11:23 am

    OK: Where’s the “edit” button?

    OldProf2 in reply to Anonymous Bosh. | July 11, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Correct about the MA being a consolation prize in many areas. When I was in grad school, we automatically received a MA at the end of the first year if we passed all our courses, kept our noses clean, and didn’t cause any major trouble.

    It was also in case we got drafted in the middle of the PhD program, we would have something to show for it. Current students don’t know how lucky they are not to have to worry about the draft. They can spend their time occupying buildings and pulling over statues with impunity.

    alohahola in reply to Anonymous Bosh. | July 12, 2021 at 4:28 am

    Add to that that the profs themselves do not give a hoot about the masters students and would rather give their time to undergrads or to their doctoral students, if they have to give their time at all.

    Master’s students are the middle child.

Albigensian | July 11, 2021 at 5:42 pm

Cancel the debt?

Can’t we just transfer the debt from the students to the schools? Perhaps on the grounds that they knew or should have known that the product/service offered was grossly defective?

    henrybowman in reply to Albigensian. | July 12, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    Good luck with that. A family member got a degree from DeVry. DeVry was sued for educational fraud, lost in 2018, and ordered to refund 1% of the tuition to their graduates, plus relief of the full balance owed on all private unpaid student loans… and yet he is still being dunned for those loans four years later.

He didn’t think about what it would take back that loan in an industry that have very few successful people in it–for every successful film maker there must be a thousand who aren’t’; and the rest of us are supposed to pay for that?

We need to require universities to put a disclaimer on their programs that consists of how many people with those degrees actually get jobs in those industries–sort of like Truth in Advertising

Hey … maybe the guy can become an “influencer” …

My HOUSE didn’t cost $360K.

henrybowman | July 12, 2021 at 8:17 pm

“Imagine Going $300,000 Into Debt for a Master’s Degree and No Job Prospects”

An interesting example of where African primitives were actually smarter than contemporary wypipo.

They were impressed into slavery only after being physically battered and shackled by conquerors.
The wypipo actually volunteer for it.