Peter Engstrom’s Aug. 24 My Turn prompts me to make the following statement without reservation: The post-secondary education ”industry” in the United States is the finest in the world. Anyone who desires an education can get one. There is a college for everyone from the very selective institutions (2 to 10 percent acceptance rate) to those with open admissions.
Mr. Pascucci’s donation to Bucknell will aid more students to get a great education and he deserves our praise. Bucknell has a 90 percent graduation rate and its graduates earn an average annual salary of $79,000 10 years after graduation. Thank goodness alumni and friends support student scholarships all over this country.
Federal loans help many students finance their educations. These are loans and are repaid so what is the ultimate cost to the taxpayer? The average loan for an undergraduate degree is only $28,000 which is not much of a “lifelong” debt. At most of the best schools a relatively small percentage of students have loans. At Harvard that is 2 percent and at Bucknell, 31 percent. The average cost of a new car is $41,000 and the value drops the minute you drive it off the lot! That is not true of a college degree.
Are million dollar salaries for college presidents excessive? Consider Penn State where President Barron oversees 25 campuses, 98,000 students, 8,000 full-time faculty, 17,500 support staff and a $7 billion budget. The Harvard president has a $5 billion budget, a $42 billion endowment, and $645 million in financial aid for students as well as a 98 percent graduation rate. Of the 4,000 colleges roughly 40 pay their chief executive at least a $1 million base salary. I suspect they earn it.
Engstrom implies Lackawanna College is affordable without donations or taxpayer money, yet 84 percent of their students get federal loans.
Enrollment has dropped overall in the United States but not at the “best” colleges or the flagship state universities (Penn State, Ohio State, Florida etc.) The biggest drops have occurred at community colleges and smaller state schools and of course that is a problem for them.
I have gathered my information from college websites, collegescorecard.ed.gov from the U.S. Department of Education, Best Colleges rankings in U.S. News and World Reports and the Chronicle of Higher Education.