Here’s a headline that ought to make your blood boil: “MSU’s $500M payout could mean tuition hike, using taxpayer money.”
The reference is to the lawsuit settlement between the university and the 332 victims (to date) of serial molester and former MSU gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was enabled by a university culture that preferred to look the other way.
Five hundred million divided by 332 works out to about $1.5 million per victim. As a taxpayer and father of three college students, I have no quibble with the amount, except that it probably isn’t enough. But then I doubt there is an amount big enough to make the hurt go away and help these young women get on with their lives.
What does bother me is interim MSU President John Engler saying, essentially, “Hey, no worries, we can just raise tuition.”
Where’s he get off? That’s like a kid crashing the family car then telling his buddies, “No worries, mom and dad will cover it.”
The university hasn’t said yet how it’ll pay the settlement, so tuition increases or passing the buck to the state are just options at this point.
But they’re options that shouldn’t even be on the table.
First off, we’re already drowning this generation of students in debt. I don’t know all the reasons behind the rapid run-up in the cost of college over the past decade, but I do know that, according to studentloanhero.com , in 2014, there “was approximately $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. that affected 44 million borrowers who had an average outstanding loan balance of $37,172.”
I also know that many students and parents are looking at that last figure and laughing. They know that many kids owe much, much more for their undergrad degrees.
MSU is a great example. According to collegedata.com, the annual cost of attendance (including tuition, room and board, books and other expenses) is $28,428. Multiply that by four years and you get $113,712. Many students take five or six years to finish.
Then there’s grad school. Again, I don’t know how or when this happened, but somehow the education industry has convinced a huge swath of the last few generations – and the business world – that a bachelor’s degree simply isn’t enough, and that if you really want to get somewhere you also need a master’s degree or a doctorate. Spin those cash register wheels.
The result is kids these days are swamped with debt before they even enter the work world. And we wonder why millennials are getting married and having kids later.
Here’s the other reason students and taxpayers shouldn’t pay a dime for the Nassar settlement: There should be pain. The university should have to dip into its endowment fund, cancel projects or trim budgets until the debt is cleared.
If the university can simply pass the cost of horrible behavior along to taxpayers or students, where’s the incentive to fix a culture that told one victim that she just simply didn’t understand the “nuanced difference” between sexual assault and an appropriate medical procedure?
You might say, “Why, of course, they’d still fix the culture. That’s just human decency.”
OK, so where was this decency all the years that Nassar preyed on girls?