Tuesday, August 02, 2005

THE COST OF KNOWLEDGE

Applying for student loans is hard enough but do the loan officers have to refer to us as "customers"? It makes me feel like I'm in a Bradlees. While on the phone with Citibank, discussing a hefty sum of money going towards education and, I hope, the betterment of this world, the operator, or Julie rather, thanked me for my business. Her use of the word "business" made me cringe. I'm attending school to get a degree in Social Work, not borrowing money for the development of a mall or a hair salon.

Furthermore, I can't believe that I'm borrowing as much money as I am. Unfortunately there is no consideration as to whether you are attending school for low-paying communal careers like teaching or social work or medicine or if you're registering for a business degree, law degree or an MFA in creative writing (which I'm told is the biggest waste of money aside from buying a Hummer). It's been said before and therefore I won't belabor the point: people don't want to become social workers or teachers because they have no guarantee that they'll be able to pay their loans back, sooner than later. Making $125,000 your first year out of law school seems to be helpful towards paying back your loans and considering that the lawyer has borrowed just as much for his education as the social worker is...it's justifiable when someone embraces the world of high-paying salaries as opposed to involving themselves in, essentially, the undesirable, financially unfulfilling jobs.

I spoke to one of the financial aid officers at NYU and asked her about my problem digesting this financial inequality. She had no answer. An education is an education, she said. We don't distinguish between potential salaries.
She continued, You could be a successful social worker and open a private practice and make a lot of money. And yeah, you're going to get an MBA but let's say the market is atrocious and you can't find a decent paying job for a long time.
But, I said back, how likely is that?
Not sure, she responded. I can't predict the future. But also consider the school you're going to. It's like a brand name. You would pay more money for more quality, right? That's what you're doing.
True, I said.
But I'm not dismissing your problem. It is an issue that no one seems to be addressing. I'm not sure if I have a clear answer for why you're paying as much for school as a business degree may. It doesn't seem completely fair. I agree. But unfortunately this is the cost and it doesn't seem like it's going to change.

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!!!!! CUNY!!!! Quality goods, and the price is right. Do what you need to do to get in. Hunter has SW and now so does Lehman. Going into SW with debt is a painful thought.

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