What will college cost? It’s still confusing

Net price calculators  – now required on nearly all college web sites — let future students enter their personal information and get an estimate on the true cost of a specific college, including financial aid, not just the “sticker price.” But the calculators are difficult to find, use, and compare.

Not surprisingly, people who borrowed heavily for college now say they didn’t understand what they were getting into.

Parents can borrow unlimited amounts through federal Parent Plus loans, regardless of their ability to repay the loans. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of parents face garnished wages (and Social Security checks) and ruined credit.

The best bang-for-the-buck colleges

The University of California at San Diego tops Washington Monthly‘s list of the top colleges for social mobility (enrolling and graduating low-income students at an affordable price), research and service. Next in line are Texas A&M, Stanford, University of North Carolina and Berkeley.

Only one of U.S. News‘ top ten schools, Stanford, makes the Washington Monthy’s top ten. Yale fails even to crack the top 40. New York University, which has floated to national prominence on a sea of student debt, is 77th. NYU does particularly poorly on the new “bang for the buck” measure.
Thirteen of the top 20 Washington Monthly universities are public, while all the top-ranked U.S. News colleges are “private institutions that spend more, charge more, and cater almost exclusively to the rich and upper-upper middle class.”
Also in the Washington Monthly, Stephen Burd calls for Getting Rid of the College Loan Repo Man who fails to distinguish between deadbeats and people who just can’t pay.

Debtor grad: ‘I wish I’d gone to prison’

Going to college was “the biggest mistake of my life,” says Hernan Castillo, who’s paying off $30,000 in student loans and $5,200 in credit card debt.  The 30-year-old California man earned an accounting degree but can’t find a new job, so he’s still working at a warehouse. From MSNBC:

“Sometimes I wish I had gone to prison instead of college. At least I would have learned a trade or two and started being independent once I got out.”

Via Parentalcation‘s Rory, who points out that the military offers debt-free training and college benefits.

My daughter’s friend, a former acountant about to complete a prestigious law school, has been looking for work in either field. Nobody’s hiring. She plans to work for free at a legal aid clinic specializing in helping debtors. Her husband, who got a good job before the crash, will pay the bills.

College students are running up more credit card debt, says a Sallie Mae study. Only 17 percent pay their bills in full each month; the rest are paying sky-high finance charges.

(Graduates) are entering the toughest job market in years. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that only 20 percent of 2009 graduates who’ve applied for jobs have been hired, compared to a success rate of 51 percent in 2007.

In July, a new federal program will let graduates in public service jobs such as teaching cap federal loan payments at 15 percent of their income.