Just having a college savings account can increase chances of a kid going to college


Makes perfect sense. The expectation of going to college (or not) held true for the vast majority of students in my high school. My parents contributed to a savings account that ended up with all of $100 in it when I left home in 1976. That was enough to buy winter clothes. But I earned scholarships for most of the tuition.

We’ll see. I work at the local university, so that’s a bit like a savings account, as my kids will get 75% off tuition and free room and board if they attend there. My father did that for me, but then changed jobs after my freshman year, oops.

Certainly the assumption in my family was that all children would go to university. It took me quite awhile to realize that most of my peers in the small town I grew up in had no real thought of going - though my first YEAR of tuition was $800 Cdn (it has gone up dramatically). The vast majority of them went to labour or trade jobs in Fort MacMisery (tarsands oil), and remain there 25 years later.

I have savings accounts open for my kids. No idea if they will go to university - it seems like a bubble right now that is likely to pop over the next decade or so. But they will have support if that’s what they choose.

Students having to pay money for university (or indeed any other form of college) is ridiculous. If you can qualify on appropriate academic grounds (and I don’t consider ‘having money’ to be one such) then you should get to attend. That should include sensible living expenses.

When you later in life benefit from the education you receive, you make money and pay taxes. Taxes that in part go towards paying for the next generation of students. If you find yourself not making lots of money, then how would you be in a position to pay off loans anyway?

Of course, it could never happen, nobody is going to be willing to have such a dreadful commie idea as actually paying taxes to maintain society in a decent manner. Oh, wait, that’s how it was in the UK when I was a student. Thank goodness people in the US are more sensible.


Indeed. The one thing that drives economic growth and improvement in all aspects of society is innovation and creativity in the context of being able to take risks. The last thing a graduate with a massive student debt can do is innovate, create or take risks - they need to find a job and keep it.

By the time the debts are paid off people often have kids and/or a mortgage, so there is little flexibility or room for risk-taking and innovation. Keep the job, (in the US) keep the health insurance, whatever it takes. Intentional or not, it makes for a very passive workforce. The only people who can afford to take risks are those who come from money, the rest just need to knuckle under.

It is also a surefire recipe for long-term economic decline and stagnation. Higher barriers to education and learning mean fewer people are able to access them. Massive debts mean fewer people are free to make the most of it on graduation. And technological change means fewer people are needed for non-creative, non-innovative jobs all the time.

That said, I think universities are pricing themselves out of relevance. As research institutions they are still somewhat functional. As learning institutions they are becoming ever more focused on empty credentialism. Education inflation now means that a degree is needed for a job that used to be done with a high school diploma, and a master’s degree for jobs that used to only require a basic degree.

When my kids reach the age of choice I won’t be opposed to their entering university, but it won’t be about ‘getting a job’. And I will do everything in my power to ensure they stay out of debt. I think the cost of a degree, and the opportunity cost of massive debt obligations, are becoming far more than any potential benefit.

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As you seem to imply, the 99% in the U.S. are bamboozled by neoliberal, supposedly free-market ideology into not even seeing the good sense of an argument like yours.

If university were still cheap, let alone free, fat cats would have one less way to extract their billions. Can’t have that!

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529 college savings plans sound great don’t they. Who would be opposed to encouraging people to save for college?

The problem is that the only people who have money left over at the end of the month to squirrel away for college are upper-middle class or the truly wealthy.

Our tax code gives people a tax break for putting money in a 529 college savings plan. Effectively it is a tax break for being rich enough to be able to afford to save, shifting the balance of the tax burden onto the working poor.

Even worse, truly wealthy people have found ways to use 529 plans as tax shelters by opening up multiple accounts in multiple states (you could potentially do this in up to 44 states) and stashing the maximum in each one.

It would be much better if we took those tax expenditures from 529 plans and used them to fund public higher ed directly. Bob Samuels at UCLA has done an absolutely fantastic job of showing how this could be done in his whitepaper “Making All Public Higher Education Free” [pdf].

It’s might surprise to learn just how affordable it would be to make all public schools tuition-free. In fact, for the amount of money we have spent on the War in Iraq so far, we could have provided tuition-free education at every 2 and 4 year public school for every single student for the next 58 years! (see here for more).


Me too. Isn’t this a depressing feeling? But if you look at the rate of increase of college tuition over time, and the theory that it’s all underwritten by “too easy” loan systems that let prices run up without bound… seems kind of inevitable that something has to break. I guess I’ll find out in 15-18 years. :unamused:

Wait, wait, what? How much? $2000 a semester, thats two semesters a year so…thats $12,000 for a degree almost 15 years ago. Thats madness!

The idea of paying for a University in good old Blighty is something we’ve been uncomfortably and begrudgingly putting up with since about 2004. Even now its only got as far as £9,000 (approx $13,000) and that caused major protests.

I appreciate the idea that saving for something like this can improve aspirations but any civilised country should either be making it free or fudging a compromise like we have in the UK where the student loans are controlled by the government. You cant get crushed by the loans as they only kick in when your earning over £15,000 and even then its taken out of your pay at a rate proportional to your income so you never even see it.

Here in Canada they have made student loans ‘immune’ to bankruptcy - so there is literally no escape from debt no matter how debilitating. Fuckers.

It’s been in the same in the US for some time now.

Ironically many of the wealthiest nouveau riche in the United States owe their wealth either directly or indirectly to a strong, affordable public education system. One of the main reasons Silicon Valley is in California is because that was where the middle-class brainy kids went to study computer science, often at tuition-free Universities.

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