The State of Things
11:50 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Is Higher Education Still Worth It?

Appalachian State University aerial photo of campus and surrounding mountains with snow in Boone, North Carolina taken on March 8, 2013
Credit David Oppenheimer / Performance Impressions Photography Archives
A panel of guests discusses the value of higher education.

Student loan debt has reached a trillion dollars in this country, and Congress has been unable to prevent the interest rates of some federally subsidized student loans from doubling. With the skyrocketing cost of higher education, is it still worth it?

Paul Umbach told Host Frank Stasio that he thinks so.

"Economists have found that college educated people are more likely to vote, more likely to volunteer..." he said. 

Umbach is an associate professor of Higher Education in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University.

As far as student loans go, Doug Lederman, editor of Inside Higher Ed blames college for letting interest rates double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 in July.

"Historically, for about 20 years, Congress set the rate through sort of a political process," he said. "And that's how it's been up until now."

Congress has been unable to reach an agreement bringing loan rates on federally Subsidized Stafford Loans back down to their previous level.

David Zonderman, a history professor at N.C. State University said that historically, college wasn't as egalitarian as it is today. It wasn't until the use of the G.I Bill after World War II that things changed.

"That's what really opens up college education to a lot of young guys that never would have thought of it," he said.

Lindsay Moriarty, owner of Monuts Donuts in Durham went to grad school but was unable to find a job after college. She opened up her bakery instead, but she says she is glad she got an education.

"I like to think of it as I took the scenic route to donut making. I don't regret it," she said. "I think I met a great group of people, and have a social network."

Host Frank Stasio talks about it with Doug Lederman, editor of Inside Higher Ed; Paul Umbach, associate professor of Higher Education in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University; David Zonderman, a professor of history at N.C. State University; and Lindsay Moriarty, owner of Monuts Donuts in Durham.

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