Monthly Archives: March 2011

Grants & Loans

As an update, also check out Richard Vedder’s post about the Pell-mell grant and alternate reform ideas.


With the feeble economy on just about everyone’s minds, there’s been some interesting news percolating about education and student loans.  The Inside HigherEd published a news piece about the $845 per student Pell Grant to help make up for the federal government’s shortfall.  As a cross section of California schools for in-state residents, here are a few stats:

UC Berkeley $12,461.50/year
CSU East Bay $4,872/year
Contra Costa College $570/year

So, for students at a CSU or a community college will still be fine with the cap and the UC students just have a slightly larger shortfall between costs and grant funding.  Given the 52% jump in Pell Grant enrollment, the relatively small difference in total amounts compared to the larger number of people participating seems the most logical decision to make.

While grant funding is going down, student loan debts are going up, according to the Project on Student Debt.  On average, a student has $24,000 in loans upon graduation in 2009 (To learn more about a state or campus average, check out their interactive map.). As the NY Times reports, this vast usage of loans creates a much larger problem than our other credit-based indulgence; “Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of and, estimates total student debt at about $896 billion — more than the nation’s credit-card debt.”

And, sadly enough, the general poor financial management and difficulty in getting a job leaves only about 1/3 of those who took out loans with the ability to repay their loans on time, according to the Institute of Higher Education Policy.

So what does this all mean?  Well, for my information competency students, I think this means I, and possibly other librarians, need to consider finances as part of the information literacy umbrella that has been missed in other education settings.  Searching the web is more than just knowing Google’s Boolean symbols; it can be a tool to educate students about the real income potential, what taxes are and how they work, and how they can structure their education towards a career that can support their needs and maybe a few wants.  This is the real, day-to-day power of information and the only hope to resolve this instant-gratification, impulse-buying, advertising-driven, debt-laden, consumerist mentality that has also allowed people to outspend what they could realistic earn.  Thoughts?