U.S. & World

How colleges take from the poor, give to the rich


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  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    May 27, 2013 5:20 p.m.

    We all don't fit the same mold. Sorry, if we disappoint those of you who think everyone should follow your footsteps. What I want to see is simply people in college who don't need remedial courses on subjects they should have learned better in high school, who aren't made to feel that they have to choose college when they'd give their eye teeth to go to trade school or be an apprentice in the work of their dreams, who want to be a___(fill in the blank) so badly they can't wait, and it doesn't take college, but other training to do it. Not everyone is military material for health or other reasons, but some would love nothing more. Let that be their career and more power to them! Let there be as much respect for those who choose to train in other ways than college--and community/junior colleges can fill that space, as they have done admirably before and do in many states now. But it isn't a lesser choice, it is an equal choice, if our sons and daughters know and hear that from us.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    May 27, 2013 5:10 p.m.

    If they don't go to households making more than $50,000 who are the rich ones getting the money?

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    May 27, 2013 12:12 a.m.

    I financed my education through a combination of grants, employment, Enlisting in the Army National Guard, and any other financial aid I could obtain. I was employed for twelve years in my field before I lost my employment. I do pay income taxes despite a modest income. I will never apologize for obtaining pell grants. My father was deceased and my mother disabled. The tea party extremists are against any government program that helps people succeed. They call anything and everything socialism and big government. I did graduate, granted not a great GPA, still I persisted and I did find gainful employment. I have no regrets that I obtained an education even thought I don't need it for my present employment

  • calcu_lus tucson, az
    May 26, 2013 9:46 p.m.

    If you really wanted to know what the value of a college degree is, graduates should be allowed to sell their degrees to the highest bidder and discharge educational loans in bankruptcy court. The true value would be determined by the marketplace instead of self interested college administrators and politicians.

  • jaige Atlanta, GA
    May 26, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    What a silly notion that merit based scholarships are based on merit and that private universities are giving incentive to attract top students (TIC). Imagine an employer saying, "I'm sorry, but in spite of your performance being superior to your peers, we have decided to give the position to somebody who is less wealthy and less qualified for the position than you. We wish you the best in your search for future employment."

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 26, 2013 6:13 p.m.

    With the current of higher education inflation, the cost of college will likely double before the decade is through. Luckily it wasn't that bad when I went to college. But this is what our students are facing today. It's a different world and working through school might not have the same effect as it did a generation ago.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    May 26, 2013 6:13 p.m.

    The Pell grant is a voucher, and that's what vouchers would do with public education if put into law. They would increase the price, because of the law of supply and demand, just as they have done in colleges.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 26, 2013 5:15 p.m.

    "Could high tuition increases be tied to government handouts?"

    It could. Just like iraq still could be "hiding" WMDs. But it isn't.

    It has a lot more to do with government investing a lot more in defense than in education. And the tax code being rewritten so that the rich can rob the poor. With the buying power of the poor and middle class stalled, tax dollars are being lost. Cuts are mad by states who cut spending to higher education. Universities then have to make up the difference by passing the costs onto American students.

    The greater question is, how can America compete globally when we drown our children in ignorance in high school (like denying evolution or cut history/civic classes) and then don't aid them in high education? Most other industrialized countries are doing the opposite. Aiding their students. Then again, most other industrialized countries have a progressive tax code and the wealth is distributed more equally. Instead, repubs seem determined to drive ourcountry over a cliff into 3rd world status.

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    May 26, 2013 5:11 p.m.

    It's increasingly evident that college is not the end-all success formula it once was. Large numbers of college graduates give up after months of looking for a "career" job, end up going back to the subsistence jobs they worked before and during school and moving back home with Mon and Dad. Married kids are moving their families back with their folks by the droves.

    When you take an objective look and realize much of the wealth in this country was created by entrepreneurs (many of whom didn't finish college) it becomes obvious that a fresh perspective is required to succeed in today's marketplace. K-12 education needs to establish a solid understanding of the principles of free enterprise and entrepreneurism. Andrew Carnegies's philosophy that "what the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve" needs to inculcated early and frequently, including holding up as examples the non-graduate "dreamers" (Zuckerberg, Jobs, Gates, Carnegie himself, Craig McCaw, Debbie Fields, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Eastman, Henry Ford, James Cameron, John D. Rockefeller, Sr, Mary Kay Ash, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Wozniak, Walt Disney and MANY more!).

  • Rustymommy Clovis, NM
    May 26, 2013 5:09 p.m.

    Is this quite a fair analysis. You make it sound like rich kids are getting pell grants in the title, but then the problem isn't with pell grants but with other forms of aid. I am low income due to a disability. While my son is not getting a "full ride", he is getting lots of aid from the university. He has excellent grades, community service, and leadership. Therefore he is still considered one of the best and the brightest. Before loans, they are covering over 80% of costs of a very presigious institution. He is taking out some student loans, but will work a summer job and get work/study. Data consistently supports that students who have to work for their education do better because they have a personal stake in the results. My question would really be, are rich students being cheated by both schools and parents by not being forced to carry some of their own weight?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 26, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    Could high tuition increases be tied to government handouts?

    If the feds are going to hand it out, we'll raise tuition and make hay while the sun shines.

  • micki Sebastopol, CA
    May 26, 2013 4:02 p.m.

    This is inaccurate. Pell Grants HELP students, ESPECIALLY those who need them most. I know this from personal experience. That there are some conservatives in politics who would like to see Pell Grants eliminated, is no surprise to me.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2013 3:58 p.m.

    @TN Cougar
    ".....all it takes is an enlistment in the U.S. military. "

    I'd have to be an idiot to do that when I was 18 since we were in the middle of two wars (one of which was based on false pretences and hasn't really improved anything in the nation). I'd rather be in debt than dead.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    May 26, 2013 3:41 p.m.

    I would suggest that the Pell Grant program should be expanded. The people really getting squeezed here are the middle class parents.

  • Kinderly Spanish Fork, UT
    May 26, 2013 3:18 p.m.

    Thank you to Max for this comment, "Where is the scam? Government gives colleges money and then the money is used exactly the way government says to use it. This frees up other resources for colleges to attract students who really do "merit" being there."

    The author of this article implies that if the university gives out any money based on merit, it is "taking from the poor." This is false logic.

    I support the Pell Grant system. I'm glad it is in place. However, I didn't qualify for a grant and would have had a really hard time getting through college without merit based scholarships. I don't think I'm alone in this, especially with the current tuition rates. Merit based aid is helping a lot of middle class students, not just upper class. Probably some lower class students as well.

    It makes sense to help the best and the brightest in our country to go to college. And it isn't cheating or stealing from anyone.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 26, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    Worf: I also worked my way through college, as well as using my GI bill. This was in the late 60's and early 70's, though, when the GI bill paid a whopping $100 a month. My last semester, I carried 23 semester hours of course work and worked full time. Not something I would recommend for anyone. The difference, however, is that the cost of college has gone up far faster than most people's income, and there's no way I could have done that now.

    At the same time, people need to be made aware of affordable alternatives, such as Western Governor's University, which is an accredited online university bases here in Utah, and our various technical colleges for those seeking marketable skills rather than a degree.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 26, 2013 2:58 p.m.

    @TN Cougar
    "Anyone can go to college that wants to.....all it takes is an enlistment in the U.S. military."

    There are many people who won't be able to get into the military because of physical disability or other reasons, but who will still do well in college. As we draw down the size of our military, the number of slots for enlistees will decrease as well. Military service is a good way to finance one's education -- I used my GI bill for college -- but it's not a perfect solution for everyone, nor should it be.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 26, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    This is nothing new. Repubs who hate pell grants would have also protested the GI bill. We all know how that helped to create the middle class and spurn economic development for decades. Only after the past 2-3 decades of failed repubs trickle down economics have reminded us of how important it is to help each other.

    "Anyone can go to college that wants to.....all it takes is an enlistment in the U.S. military"

    Huh? Is that supposed to save money? How?

    Why should people enlist in the army? So repub presidents can send kids to die in countries that never attacked us? So our children and grandchildren can be sent to serve special interests like Cheney's Haliburton buddies?

    "The government is broke"

    When hasn't the government had debt? And if debt was so important why did repubs cheerlead as bush racked up trillions on our credit card?

    "College Costs have exploded since Pell grants were instituted"

    Correlation is not proof of causation. You might need a college education to understand this.


    Sooooo your idea to help America compete globally in the 21st century is to have more plumbers?

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    May 26, 2013 2:29 p.m.


    I have heard that the Kahn Academy does a good job in math but everything I have seen in my field is just dreadful. He should have stayed with what he knew. That is the problem with the internet, anybody can teach anything and anybody does. If you are going to take an online course, it is best to stay with those offered by colleges and universities.

  • UtahUte16 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    The people who are saying they worked their way through college and graduated with no debt likely went to college when it wasn't near as expensive. Since I've started my tuition has dramatically every single year. Once I got to my junior year, I was charged 48 dollars for every credit hour that was upper division. Tuition and books is approximately 9,000/yr for me now. On top of this I have to come up with rent, gas money, food, etc. It just seems impossible to work your way through school and graduate debt free.

    I work 10-15 hour a week during the school year. I do much more homework than the average college student due to the nature of my major. My week is jam packed when school is in session. There just isn't enough time in a week to earn money to pay my way through college.

    What we need to do is stop giving grants/aid to degrees that give you no appreciable skills. No more art/photography/ethnic studies/ballet degrees paid for by the public. Let's invest in STEM and medical related fields. Those degrees actually benefit the economy.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 26, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    Gaining a skill will allow a person to work their way through college. On job learning/experience, or a technical school can provide ways, and means to college.

    For me, I traded for some janitorial equipment, then contracted to clean four daycare centers, and a dentist office. I also placed three candy machines in some apartment buildings, and received income from that. I also bought and fixed cars to sell, and totally paid my way through college.

    I knew a young lady who cut hair while in college.

    Creativity comes with urgency. People can make it through college if the motivation is there, and without begging for handouts.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    May 26, 2013 11:50 a.m.

    @ Fact or Fake

    Excellent point and example.

    Thank you for your comment.

    For the rest, of the usual suspects...

    It's okay to redistribute access to resources, from the poor to the rich...

    Yet, it's not okay to redistribute access to resources, from the rich to the poor?

  • Fact or Fake Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    Here is another way the rich get grants....my son applied for grants and was denied. I make 60k a year. He applied just in case he qualified. We suspected he would not. My niece, however, received full grants. Her parents own a business. The drive new cars. The live in a lavish home. But because they are able to run all expenses through the business, it shows the only make 30k a year. Clearly they make more money yet they are poor on paper. I doubt this is an isolated instance.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 26, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    I would much rather fund Pell grants than have my hard-earned taxes go to give tax breaks to vulture capitalists who claim to create jobs but in fact send jobs overseas and get tax benefiits for doing so.

  • Pipes Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2013 9:43 a.m.

    I worked summer jobs and while I was at school. Pell grants allowed me to finish my college degree. I have since paid off my student loans and am now paying my fair share of taxes. The government got a good deal by helping with my education. Anyone that wants to can go to college. There will always be corruption as long as we allow it at the top. If we keep voting in the Obama's and Nancy Pelosi's of the world, not to mention the equally corrupt Republicans, we will continue to pay. Time for the end of career politicians!

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 26, 2013 9:31 a.m.

    Why does it seem like conservatives don't value education?

    Yeah,so, i started working (a real job) at age 16 and paid my own tuition all through college--when tuition was hundreds, not thousands of dollars.

    Fast forward today:
    My youngest son just completed his first year at a state university in CA where the tuition alone is nearly $13,000/yr.
    My oldest son graduated from a state university in PA where the (in-state tuition) was nearly $16,000.

    Now add living expenses.

    Tuition has dramatically increased over the past 20 yrs. for multiple reasons--including declines of state funding.

    Some majors lead to well-paying jobs making it easier to pay back loans, but some graduate with degrees where the job market is bleak making it difficult to pay back loans.

    Some majors--such as engineering-- are extremely demanding making it nearly impossible for a student to work and attend school.

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    May 26, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    Easy Federal money is the reason it costs so much for a college education. They build their palaces of higher learning on the backs of overcharged students. If we got the US Government out of educational finance the schools would have to prove their worth to the students in the free marketplace.

    We are constantly assailed with complaints about corporate welfare. Why is all this money pumped into education so different? Graduates are not receiving a reasonable benefit if they never stand a chance to earn enough to pay back their debts. Federal aid distorts the marketplace in higher education as badly as it does in any other segment of our economy.

  • Juan Figuroa Seattle, WA
    May 26, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    Married with 2.5 kids when I graduated. No financial aid, no parental assistance at all (they were mad I went to BYU, and refused to provide required info for aid application). Just hard work and a long timeline.

  • SWP Provo, UT
    May 26, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    These students should consider where they're going to school. You don't have to have get a $30k or $50k a year education to get a good education and be competitive for employment. BYU, UofU, and USU are three examples of solid, reasonably priced, universities. Nearly every state has affordable state universities that most students can access...so if you don't like the price tag on your education, shop a little bit and pick a school that gives you a good education without charging for your first born!

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    May 26, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    The Pell Grant is the best money spent by the federal government. It is an investment in the American system. An individual's overall earnings (and taxes paid) INCREASE with educational achievement. But the "stick" mentioned in the article needs to be implemented.

  • Juan Figuroa Seattle, WA
    May 26, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    Worked my own way through BYU. Took me 10 years -- and BYU's short-term loan policy -- to do it, but I graduated with no debt, no parental assistance, and lots of experience on my resume.

  • arand Huntsville, u
    May 26, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    Just another redistribution of wealth program that doesn't work. Kids that don't get the grades in high school usually drop out in college. I would much rather see grants given to students with high test scores and more money given to students who take courses in engineering and courses that actually teach you something that will in turn also help the country prosper. Where will a degree in Race and Ethic Values take you other than flipping burgers?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    Well, with higher ed budgets, particularly for public schools, being slashed, the emphasis at the schools is on adademic merit as opposed to need. The schools are under tremendous pressure to produce actual graduates, and high performing ones at that, increasingly ignoring need. This is a bad situation, but it is one of the consequences of austerity, as misbegotten concept. So the capitalist system lurches about wihtout direction.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    May 26, 2013 8:10 a.m.

    It's true that the college system is very corrupt from the cost to the nearly worthless courses required only to support academia.

    There is however a movement towards online courses that should be free or nearly free since they cost so little to create and maintain per student. Coursera, Khanacademy and other online learning systems are gaining popularity and credentials.

    We're just stuck in a very expensive and uncomfortable transition stage of education.

    We should just be testing knowledge and competence and not assuming anything from credentials.

    I tested out of 30 credits with CLEP and DANTES tests. A few weeks of study and about an hour of testing you have 3 credits. That's how it should be. Then my counselor got angry and told me no more credits would be accepted from testing.

  • JLFuller Boise, ID
    May 26, 2013 7:14 a.m.

    No one is entitled to a college education. We are entitled to a basic education such as we get in publicly funded grade and high schools. But that is where it stops. Everything else is optional. In higher ed, students have to want to succeed and, by all rights, should have to prove they are capable of being successful in college. The latter is not required to get a Pell grant. Just about anyone can get one and therein lays the rub. The Feds throw money at the issue and hope against hope that the unprepared and unmotivated will take it and be successful.
    You can’t fault universities from looking for full paying kids from wealthy families and the best and most motivated students. It is a matter of survival. The problem is the unmotivated and unprepared people who drag the system down financially, or so it seems.

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    May 26, 2013 7:14 a.m.

    20 percent with GPAs below 2.0 get "merit aid"? ! Let's forget about money, how do these students even get into college with those grades let alone get "MERIT" aid. Doesn't "merit" mean academic merit? It used to.

    Where is the scam? Government gives colleges money and then the money is used exactly the way government says to use it. This frees up other resources for colleges to attract students who really do "merit" being there.

    Also, not one mention of community colleges. Yes, most students cannot afford the most selective private universities. Is this a news flash that the poorest cannot afford them either? This is not the end of the road. Many students go to community colleges and take classes from good teaching professors and get a better education than they would have received had they taken those same classes from graduate students at a university. They save a fortune that can then be used for their junior and senior years and perhaps graduate school.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    May 26, 2013 7:11 a.m.

    There certainly seems to be a vast pool of college and university educated people. Yet relatively few of these seem to be able to think clearly or to write comprehensibly. Something is wrong.

    Students appear often to arrive at university without even a basic education and needing remedial work.

    "Smart people": who are they? Are they the people who are wise enough to choose a vocational course that will actually increase their real wealth and that of others by producing something essential at a price affordable to honest people of all "classes"? If people want wisdom universities cannot give it, only virtue, experience and the love of truth will discover that.

  • Phil Kitchen UK, 00
    May 26, 2013 6:16 a.m.

    Though not American, the system of grants for those not able to attend college or university who may lack the financial means is available in many countries around the earth. It is disappointng that this system has and is being abused in ways that poorer students are disadvantaged. It is good that intelligence (even as measured by IQ) is not limited to those from wealthier backgrounds. It may be that some of the world's greatest minds contributing to the future of mankind will arise from less financially able homes. It would be immeasurably sad and disheartening to block educational opportunities for these young people with ability. If bursaries and scholarships are available, let colleges, universities, and granting authorities ensure they are allocated to those for whom they are intended.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 26, 2013 12:58 a.m.

    Many of our poor, did not have good grades while growing up. Even with head start, free lunch program, and other benefits.

    Pell grants, would be more efficiently used if based on ACT, or SAT scores rather then income levels.

    The best education come those who work their way through college. It can be done.

  • TN Cougar Johnson City, TN
    May 25, 2013 10:34 p.m.

    Anyone can go to college that wants to.....all it takes is an enlistment in the U.S. military. Lots of people I knew in college were unwilling to sacrifice to make college a reality. I heard many people say "the military just isn't for me." My response.... "perhaps college isn't for you."

    We should do away with the Pell grant system.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 25, 2013 8:42 p.m.

    Let's be honest about this. The government is broke and taxpayers are indebted out the wazoo for as far as they eye can see to pay our current $16.8 trillion debt.

    Other than as a cynical redistribution of wealth program, or more accurately, welfare for those who want to delay working for four years while pretending to become educated, Pell grants are unaffordable and should be eliminated entirely.

    For those who claim you cannot earn a good living without a college education, here are a few words of advice. Welder. Plumber. Mechanic. Health care.

    Or, check out the education benefits that are earned (not given out as welfare) for military service, either active duty or Guard or Reserve.

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    May 25, 2013 8:39 p.m.

    Some people worship the university.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    May 25, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    College Costs have exploded since Pell grants were instituted. If you suddenly increase the amount of money that students have then colleges are able to charge more. Slowly and surely they have. Now the price is out of reach. In the long run, it will be better to get rid of them. Then colleges (who will lose billions) will look to seriously cut costs like they should have been trying to do for decades.

    @Twin Lights... why is college out of price today? It's because of the Pell Grants.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 25, 2013 6:51 p.m.

    Worf and All,

    Can you work your way through school? Sure. If you live near to a college and can extend you timeline.

    When I was a kid, I knew folks who worked 2 jobs in the summer and could pay for college, room, and board from their earnings.

    Try that today. If school is $15,000 (in state or church school) with books, room, and board, what summer job could possibly pay for that?

    Pell Grants help create the next generation of earners. They are a good deal for the taxpayer and a great anti-poverty program.

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    May 25, 2013 6:11 p.m.

    @dumprake: Certainly college isn't for everyone--that's clear if you look at any freshman-level class. But I'd much rather have the opportunity for a college education go to those with the ability and the interest to benefit from the opportunity. Otherwise, college just becomes a way for the upper classes to ensure that the silver spoon ends up in their children's mouths.

    Pell Grants are supposed to ensure that smart young people--regardless of their parents' incomes--have the opportunity to improve their lot. The shell game this article describes is shifting scarce money to those who need it less.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 25, 2013 5:55 p.m.

    Pell grants is taking from working,---tax paying people, and giving it to those who don't pay income taxes. How can you take from the poor who doesn't have money to begin with?

    There are many who work their way through college without robbing the working middle-class.

    To many focus on benefits, while not finding ways of paying their way through. It's a slap in the face, having to beg someone to pay your way through life.

  • junkgeek Agua Dulce, TX
    May 25, 2013 5:53 p.m.

    It's the rare resume that gets a second look that doesn't have a bachelor's degree.

    I wouldn't have graduated without my Pell Grants.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    May 25, 2013 5:42 p.m.

    "'Low-income students have to take on a significant amount of debt or work full-time jobs while they are in school, or they have to stop out of school for periods of time while they work and save,' said report author Stephen Burd"


    I am one of six children in a family whose parents earnings topped out at about $900/mo. a few months before my father died while undergoing a 2nd round of heart valve replacements.

    Unlike several of my siblings and mostly because of my lackadaisical academic performance, I never obtained any scholarships and (probably because of my lackadaisical investigatory interest) never even knew about Pell grants. Nevertheless, we **all**, eventually, graduated from college. In my case it took a total elapsed time of 12 years interspersed with several periods of dropping out in order to earn enough in one of my **many** odd summer jobs to drop back in, usually while working part time.

    I mention this to point out that this tale of "How colleges take from the poor, give to the rich" is not only very slanted and unrepresentative, it is unnecessarily demoralizing and, in my case at least, false.

  • AntelopeValleyUte Palmdale, CA
    May 25, 2013 5:09 p.m.

    That is another way the man sticks it to some of the "poor" who are truly hardworking and honest people who try to live right everyday and make every effort to be successful in life without taking advantage of the system or taking a handout. If this is true, those colleges should be ashamed of themselves! Yet again, taking from the poor and giving to the rich! You just never know, you can have a diamond in the rough (someone raised poor) who could be a lot smarter than some rich kids, but you would never know that because the colleges and the "man" are too busy screwing the poor over to benefit them and the rich snobby unappreciative spoiled brats! I honestly believe what goes around, comes around...

  • dumprake Washington, UT
    May 25, 2013 5:08 p.m.

    For starters, it's a false notion that college is for everyone, it's not. And forcing millions of young people through college only to graduate with a mountain of debt and no employment is a sham in and of itself. The colleges get millions in government money, hire more professors, expand programs, etc; under the guise there is this huge demand for their services.

    Then, if you simply push kids through college regardless of how smart they are, you get degreed kids who really don't belong in that group and can't really compete in the real world.

    Finally, this huge increase in college enrollment during the recession is due only to the fact none of these people can find work, so they go to college at govt expense--and still don't have a job when they graduate. Obama looks great because more kids are going to college, the college boasts of increased enrollment, they lobby their state legislatures that they need more money, so the state increases taxes, gives more money to the college, but now enrollment is trending downward again, and this whole thing is a charade.