Monday, October 6, 2008

Sticking it to the Man

My classmate Ravi had a cool, but not neccesarily original idea. He wants to pay his $50,000 tuition in nickels, starting with the next ~$17,000 quarterly bill.

I love Stanford and if it was up to me, I wouldn't change anything -- except, of course, the tuition. Stanford's endowment grew by 23% to $17b last year, which means that they made about $200,000 for each student in every school. Most undergrads are on financial aid, but those who aren't pay more than $50K a year -- not a particularly large item on Stanford's balance sheet, but huge for a lot of the parents who write the checks.

And it's not just parents. Lots of us, especially grad students, leave with ridiculous debt loads. If I've gotten anything out of the market meltdown that we're in the middle of, it's that ridiculous debt loads are a bad idea.

Financial aid is difficult, too. Need-blind admission does a reasonable job of ensuring that everyone who gets in can come, but it doesn't guarantee fair treatment. At best, it lets smart kids without money or college degrees in their family come to Stanford and become seeds of change, close the poverty gap, and live happily ever after. At worst, it penalizes parents who work hard and save and subsidizes the ones who outspend their incomes.

If Ravi actually manages to wheel-barrow a million nickels to the Registar's Office, I'll be there, blogging the pictures and videos for you.

No comments: