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March 3rd, 2008


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12:01 am - From Each According to (their) Ability, to Each According to (their) Need
Here's a fascinating short NYT article about a recent and IMHO excellent decision by Brown University

Brown University is eliminating tuition for students whose parents earn less than $60,000, after decisions by fellow Ivy League universities to bolster financial aid as their endowments grow.

The university, in Providence, R.I., said on Saturday that it also planned to substitute grants for student loans in the financial aid packages of students whose families earned less than $100,000 a year. The new program cuts reliance on loans for all students regardless of family income, the university said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Brown also announced plans to increase tuition by 3.9 percent for the 2008-9 academic year to $36,928. With room and board, the costs are $47,740 for one year.
I read a while back about how Ivy League university tuitions were going up rapidly, while their endowments were also growing, which struck me as very wrong given the especially sorry state of student financial aid in the US. In vivid contrast, I see this as a wonderful step, that I'd love to see other universities take. Of course, I also see this as a more general principle that should be applied as widely as possible. I'm reminded of the fact that in Finland, fines for traffic-related offenses are based both on the severity of the offense and the driver's income, which once resulted in a multi-millionaire receiving a $71,400 speeding ticket, as well as a few $10,000 speeding tickets to other exceptionally wealthy people. Of course, I see a fair amount of value (as well as a few serious problems) with Marx's ideas.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

(14 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:mikkop
Date:March 3rd, 2008 10:54 am (UTC)
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Well, yeah, that traffic fine thing gets somebody offended every once in a while. It still seems to work pretty well, though.

What I'm annoyed about here in Finland is that there are some government people who want to make our universities have fees. Currently, it's almost completely free until the Master's degree - you have to buy books and other equipment (in my University, you didn't even have to own a computer, there were lots of them available in classes) but the studying itself if free.

After that Master's, at least in the technical areas I was studying, you most likely get a job at the University if you want to continue to a PhD, and the stuyding part is, again, free.

Now, this fee plan is about 'making the universities of Finland more interesting to foreign students'. I can't really follow the reasoning here, but it seems to be that free things are not valuable, or something, so if the education is free, nobody comes here.

Which of course breaks down if you ask the actual foreign people who have come to study here: for many of them the free education is just the reason why they're here. There's also the related problem of educating them and then not hiring them, so they just move back abroad...

I don't know the US system so well, but what you're describing is in my opinion a step in the right direction. Even though the income differences here are not as big as yours, I have many friends who wouldn't have been able to get a university degree if it had not been free - or their parents would've needed to cut everything else. You could of course help that with stipeds and such, but that's still not as good as the current solution, in my opinion.
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From:blue_estro
Date:March 3rd, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
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Stanford has done the same thing.

Edited at 2008-03-03 12:52 pm (UTC)
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From:laurelindel
Date:March 3rd, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC)
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YAY! For Stanford and Brown! W00t, even!
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From:lyssabard
Date:March 4th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
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Seconded!

Wish that was there when I was going to undergrad. :)
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From:hasufin
Date:March 3rd, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
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It *could* be a step in the right direction. Maybe.

It kind of concerns me, in that it almost feels like saying "anybody whose income is under $60,000 is poor."
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From:aekiy
Date:March 3rd, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
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People have already been saying that---at least, in regards to families.
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From:heron61
Date:March 3rd, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
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I'm hoping it is the more realistic statement that no one who makes less than $60,000 can possibly afford to send their children here, which given the astronomical tuition seens reasonably accurate.
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From:hasufin
Date:March 3rd, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
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Possibly. But it's an awfully fine line. which I guess is neither here nor there, but might have some (to my point of view) strange implications for the economy.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:March 3rd, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Correlating income with poverty puzzles me. Poverty implies having to choose between eating and paying the rent, not just barely getting by. It also overlooks other factors, such as how many bills have to be paid, cost of living, etc. Those factors can be influenced by one's free choice (the choice of not owning a car, for instance.)
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From:hasufin
Date:March 3rd, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
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I think that's confusing the feeling of poverty with the technical definition. The feeling of being impoverished is subjective - some people feel that their inability to afford a new car indicates lesser economic means; others think it's perfectly normal to not be able to purchase new clothing.

Bear in mind, too, that there are a great many factors which affect how an individual spends their money. For example, people in more southern climes doubtless put "heating" as a pretty low priority - but further north that's considered essential.

While you can break it down by location, age, and number of household members, eventually there's an arbitrary line above which the household can afford those things which they can reasonably expect to afford, and below which they cannot. The only other method would be to have evaluators come in and examine the spending habits, income, and circumstances for each individual.
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From:blue_estro
Date:March 3rd, 2008 10:39 pm (UTC)
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Those factors can be influenced by one's free choice (the choice of not owning a car, for instance.)

This is sorta a side ramble (as opposed to disagreement or affirmation): Public transit often does not conveniently serve low income neighborhoods or industrial districts. So a car, while expensive (insurance + gas + maintenance), is the only feasible way for people in those neighborhoods to get to and from their livelihood. Thus car-ownership is not a free choice for everyone.

(There are many other cost small to generate income trade-offs. For example, looking professional for work (not to mention during the interview) affects raises and salary in office jobs, but requires more money spent on clothing and dry-cleaning.)

I agree that income and poverty don't have a 1:1 relation, but they aren't unrelated.
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From:moominmuppet
Date:March 3rd, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
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Wow, it's nice to see some good news on the educational front!
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From:rjgrady
Date:March 4th, 2008 07:55 am (UTC)
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In the long run, you almost can't waste money on people's education. It's just hard to get individual institutions to pony up. Kudos to the universities for doing what the feds haven't managed to do yet.

From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 19th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)

Hello

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I'm new here, just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.

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