Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I think you are not living in a parallel universe, but perhaps you are not properly understanding the graduate school enrollment issue. My daughter went to a prestigious east coast school for graduate school (M.A.) and it cost about $2000 a year, mostly for airplane tickets home. She had a small scholarship, a teaching assistantship, and a summer job, and has no debt at this point. Many of her friends are in similar situations.

The American system, like the French system, must be properly "played," but it is perfectly possible to get into a good school, if you have good test scores and grades, even if you come from a poor family and a third rate high school, and, further, if you fall off the tracks for a few years, it's possible--although hard--to recover and make up the difference later.

Further, the cost of excellent state schools is a complicated formula where all costs and benefits are not immediately apparent. For example, the University of Colorado, a huge state school with about 25,000 undergraduates, boasts several Nobel Laureates and has a broad range of leading programs. Cost for out-of-state students is about $32k per year (all inclusive), comparable to the cost of high-end private schools. The in-state cost is around $15k, which I know sounds outrageous to Europeans. However, this does not take into account grants, rebates, and special case situations that apply to many students. For example, there is an automatic state reimbursement of (I forget what, about $1000 a year) that everybody gets, and funding from the state College Opportunity Fund worth about $1400. You can get federal Pell grants for up to $4000 a year, FSEOG grants for up to $2000, CLEAP grants to $2000, and a bunch of others. You can get a full scholarship by signing up for the military via the ROTC program. Also, most churches give small scholarships to a few students, as do small businesses and parents' employers.

In addition, the state school systems have a broad range of opportunities. In Colorado (which is not unique) there is the very highly rated School of Mines, the excellent Colorado State University, a number of smaller four year schools like Western State, for example, plus extension schools located at remote sites (e.g. CSU has a small campus in Pueblo, 200 miles from the main campus). Also there are two year schools that allow kids who didn't quite make the honor roll in High School to take basic classes that are 100% transferrable to the regular colleges, at a fraction of the cost. Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, for example, costs about $200 per credit hour (16 hours being a typical full course load).

So the bottom line is that there are some kids who come out with huge loans, but plenty of others don't, or have only small loans.

by asdf on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 01:45:51 AM EST
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