As my recently college graduated, debt ridden, under-employed, three children have found out...
The National Inflation Association believes that the United States has a college education bubble that is set to burst beginning in mid-2011. This bursting bubble will have effects that are even more far-reaching than the bursting of the Real Estate bubble in 2006. College education could possibly be the largest scam in U.S. history.
NIA's advice to the youth of America today is to think for yourselves. Don't get suckered into overpaying for a college degree that is worthless because everyone else has one. College is only worth attending if you plan on actually learning something there. If you are only going to college because you think a piece of paper is going to help you find a job, you would be much better off skipping college and entering the workforce right now at any entry level job. Your experience will benefit you more than any piece of paper.
The median U.S. home price is currently $170,600, down 26% from its peak of $230,200 in July of 2006. The Dow Jones is currently 11,672, down 18% from its peak of 14,198 in October of 2007. Oil is currently $91 per barrel, down 38% from its peak of $147 per barrel in July of 2008. After the financial panic of 2008, the U.S. saw a collapse in the prices of just about all assets, goods, services, and commodities. Between lost stock market and home equity wealth, Americans lost $10.2 trillion in paper wealth in 2008, and have only recouped a fraction of it since then.
College is the only thing in America that never declined in price during the panic of 2008. It actually rose in price substantially. The annual tuition for a private four-year college was $21,235 in the 2005-2006 school year. Despite Real Estate beginning to collapse in late-2006, college tuition rose by 4.6% in the 2006-2007 school year to $22,218. Despite the stock market beginning to collapse in late-2007, college tuition rose by 6.7% in the 2007-2008 school year to $23,712. Despite oil and other commodities collapsing in late-2008, college tuition rose by 6.2% in the 2008-2009 school year to $25,177. Even after the Dow Jones crashed to a low in early-2009 of 6,469, college tuition still rose by 4.4% in the 2009-2010 school year to $26,273.
Annual tuition for a private four-year college in America is now $27,293, up 29% from five years ago. Meanwhile, the employment situation in the U.S. has deteriorated. There are currently 130.7 million non-farm jobs in America, down 3% from 134.5 million U.S. non-farm jobs in December 2005. 3.8 million jobs have been lost, while the U.S. population has grown by approximately 14 million people during the same time period. We would need to have seen the creation of 6.7 million non-farm jobs just to stay even, but now we are 10.5 million jobs short.
All across America, thousands of students are graduating law school each year with $250,000 in debt, but with no jobs at law firms available to them. 15,000 attorney and legal staff jobs have disappeared since 2008, yet 43,000 law degrees are being handed out each year. Law degrees are losing their value faster than the U.S. dollar is losing its purchasing power. Lawyers are non-producing workers that do nothing to create any real wealth for society. The artificially high incomes of lawyers are made possible entirely by inflation, which steals the wealth from hard working goods producing middle-class Americans and transfers it to those who add no real value to society.
The service sector currently makes up 76.9% of the U.S. GDP. Agriculture, which in 1933 made up 28% of GDP, currently makes up only 1.2% of GDP. The wealth of any country is primarily created at first from the production of food, oil, and precious metals. Secondly, wealth is created from the manufacturing of real consumer goods. After a country generates wealth by producing real things and builds a large domestic pool of savings, it can begin growing a service based economy, just so long as it has enough savings to support it.
During the past decade, an unprecedented number of Americans went to school to become lawyers, because they thought if they became a lawyer they would immediately become rich. 60% of the U.S. Senate and 37% of the House of Representatives are lawyers. The reason we have so many lawyers in Washington is so that they can pass as many new harmful laws and regulations as possible, in order to provide enough work for all of their lawyer friends. All of the needless legislation that is passed each year in order to provide work for lawyers, has the devastating unintended consequence of destroying what little is left of the free market. Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, but it is now nearly impossible for a small businessman with limited financial resources to build a large successful corporation in any sector, because their legal costs would eat up all of their profits.
Many law students got suckered into going to law school due to deceptive marketing practices. Some law schools are advertising that 90% of graduates are employed within one year of graduating. Sure, maybe 90% of law school graduates were employed a year later, with half of them working at McDonald's, but no law school degree is required for that. Schools are using dozens of unethical tactics to manipulate their numbers while encouraging alumni to falsify the surveys they fill out about their employment situation. Just like we are now seeing countless class action lawsuits against mortgage companies that misled customers about the loans they signed up for, we will soon see a massive number of lawsuits filed against colleges that lied about their job placement rates and average starting salaries of graduates. (At least there will be some work for law school graduates.)
Most Americans today are sheep who believe that the key to success and happiness in life is following the same career paths as everybody else. While everybody went to school to become a lawyer, nobody went to school to become a farmer because Americans didn't see any money in farming. With prices of nearly all agricultural commodities soaring through the roof in 2010 and with NIA expecting this trend to continue throughout 2011, the few new farmers out there are going to become rich while lawyers are standing at street corners with cups begging for money.
The college tuition bubble has been fueled by the U.S. government's willingness to give out easy student loans to anybody who applies for them. If it wasn't for government student loans, the free market would force colleges to provide the best quality education at the lowest possible price. By the government trying to make colleges more affordable, they have actually driven prices through the roof. Colleges have been encouraged to spend recklessly on wasteful construction projects, building new libraries, gyms, sports arenas, housing units, etc. Colleges spent $10.7 billion on construction projects in 2009. Although this is down from an average of $14.7 billion per year colleges spent on construction projects from 2005 to 2007, colleges are still struggling to pay off their old construction related debt. When interest rates start to rise, it will add further upside pressure to college tuition prices.
College students borrowed $106 billion in total student loans for the 2009-2010 school year, up from $96 billion in 2008-2009, $94 billion in 2007-2008, $87 billion in 2006-2007, and $83 billion in 2005-2006. Total student loan debt in the U.S. currently stands at $830 billion and now exceeds credit card debt. President Obama's new student loan bill that was passed last year now makes the government the primary lender to students. By taking the free market out of the student loan business and allowing students to receive loans from the government at artificially low interest rates, colleges will be encouraged to spend more recklessly than ever. None of this wasteful spending is doing anything to improve the quality of education in America.