College: Skyrocketing Costs, Student Debt, and Budget-Wise Choices

Not only do student loans and their accompanying debt keep making news, such lending has become big business for the federal government. In fact, federal student loans have nearly doubled since 2007, with the result that the U.S. Department of Education realized a profit of more than $42.5 billion in the past fiscal year. Plus, had Obama and Congress not temporarily lowered student loan interest rates this summer, that figure would have been about $8 billion higher, thus edging out 2011’s whopping $47.9 billion haul.

The other result: Student loan debt now stands at some $1.2 trillion. “That,” says Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, “is a burden which is affecting, for example, the ability of young people to buy a first home, affecting other purchasing decisions they might make, affecting obviously their overall financial condition.”

Meanwhile, Bellevue University’s study,”The Search for Affordable Alternatives: Rising Costs and Massive Student Loan Debt Put College Out of Reach for Many,” found that:

  • 68% of Americans believe degree programs currently cost more than they’re worth.
  • 36% said a degree’s costs have risen disproportionately to its value in the last 5 years.
  • 76% said affordability would be important to them if they were to pursue a degree.
  • 37% said that affordability would be most likely to motivate them to earn a degree in the next five years.
  • Just 40% said that obtaining more education is worth taking on more debt.
  • 55% said they would only pursue a degree if it would not put them into debt.

About such results, Bellevue’s president, Dr. Mary Hawkins, says, “Students of all ages understand the value of earning a degree, but many students are unable to pay more than necessary to earn these degrees. If colleges and universities make their programs more financially accessible, it will give more adults the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to fill the high-tech, high-school jobs of the future.”

So just how much does college cost nowadays? According to the College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing,” on average:

  • At public colleges, in-state tuition and fees rose 2.9% to $8,893.
  • At public colleges, out-of-state tuition and fees rose 3/1% to $22,203.
  • At private colleges, tuition and fees rose 3.8% to $30,094.

Then there’s room and board to pay for, as well as books and school supplies. The latter alone are estimated to add up to about $1,200 at public colleges and $1,244 at private schools.

In other words, we’re talking big bucks here, and costs keep rising. Nevertheless, college and debt don’t necessarily have to go hand in hand. Choice matters and bargains are out there, especially when it comes to in-state tuition. Going public, not private makes a lot of sense, too.

Take a look, for instance, at these three Pennsylvania universities and their 2013-14 tuition costs:

  • Bloomsburg University: $6,622 (in-state); $16,556 (out-of-state)
  • Penn State University: $16,992 (in-state); $29,556 (out-of-state)
  • University of Pennsylvania: $40,594

You get the picture.

Montessori Preschool Curriculum Choices and Benefits

Choosing a Montessori preschool curriculum is key to a successful educational program. Maria Montessori’s teaching method encourages young children to develop a strong sense of individuality, responsibility, and promotes their natural strengths. When choosing a Montessori preschool curriculum it is important to ensure that the essential core elements of the program include Mathematics, Language Arts, Sensorial Activities, Cultural Awareness, and Practical Life skills.

The number one principle of Montessori education is that children retain best when they are involved in independent active play and learning. The Montessori preschool curriculum should allow for children to play independently, while the parent or teacher is the facilitator between the child and the curriculum.

Another wonderful benefit from choosing a Montessori preschool curriculum is that children are allowed to work at their own pace. This helps the child gain confidence as well as self-esteem- two important qualities that are developed through Montessori education. The Montessori educational method believes that all children have a natural desire for independence, creativity, and to achieve self esteem through mastering tasks. You will also find that Montessori curriculum is most effective when used with small group settings. This is easily obtained for those who are using the program at home with one child, but in the daycare or preschool settings where there are small groups of children, it will be beneficial to have children work individually.

The basics of Montessori encourage and foster independence. Therefore, most Montessori preschool curriculum choices will involve children working from one activity to the next. The teacher never forces a child to work or complete a task but is there to gently guide and oversee. The teacher will ask the child questions regarding which activities the child feels comfortable with and will offer their assistance if needed. By providing support and encouragement, the child will gain self-confidence and master skills according to their own time frame.

Jonathan Hayman: Follow His Lead When Considering Your Physics Education Choices

If you are curious about what it takes to become a physicist, you should learn the basic education requirements. Reading the blog written by Jonathan Hayman could be considered a start to finding out the typical schooling required, but of course not everyone takes the same path. Consider the main ways to get an education and break into this field.

You will find that most physics jobs require more than a bachelor’s degree, which is why Jonathan Hayman is pursuing further education. With a bachelor’s degree, you can likely become a physicist’s research assistant, or even branch out into other fields. This is considered a start to becoming a physicist, but you will likely not be able to officially be one without a graduate degree. Of course, during your undergraduate years, you may realize that you want to take a different path anyway, such as going into computer science instead, in which case you do not need a master’s degree in physics.

If you want the highest amount of choices within this industry, you should go for a master’s degree. This will allow you to teach the subject, or at least apply to jobs that are higher than a research assistant. Not only will your ability to get a great job be improved, but you will likely make more money at the position that you do land.

Of course, pursuing even more education will allow you to have more options. Getting a Ph.D will allow you to become a physicist, college professor, and more, though of course you can expect at least four years of schooling. You will also need to choose a concentration within this subject, and can expect to take classes that focus on subjects like quantum physics, classical mechanics, and electromagnetic theory, to name a few common topics. Additionally, you will be expected to write a dissertation on a subject of your choosing, which will usually be related to the concentration you have chosen. You will then have to defend your thesis, which you should expect will take several months to put together.

You may be inspired by people like Jonathan Hayman, as this type of person pursues the necessary education to get the position he wants. It is important to know that you can do the same if you are interested in spending years learning about this subject, and then practicing it everyday for your job. Before you decide on the type of education you want, consider the career you desire so that you have an idea of how long you will be in school. This is typically the fastest path to getting the job you want when it comes to the physics field.

Parent Educational Choices in Autism Assessment

Parents are often making choices about a young child’s educational future at the time of an autism assessment. Many educational angles are presented to parents during the autism assessment process. The following information includes five choices that parents make during the autism assessment.

Choice to Give Consent for Autism Testing

First of all, the parent has a choice as to whether or not to give permission or consent for a team to conduct an autism or early childhood educational assessment. Once the information is explained to parents, some parents make the choice to opt out or not have the child tested in the assessment process. However, many parents gladly accept this opportunity to learn more about their child’s skills and abilities as well as letting professionals give their opinions related to autism characteristics.

Choice to Agree or Disagree with Autism Results

Second, parents have a choice to agree or disagree with the results and recommendations of the autism eligibility meeting and team. Some parents are right on board with the results of the multidisciplinary team assessment, while other parents don’t see their children in the same way. It is not uncommon for parents to say that he or she ‘does not act the same way at home as he or she behaved in the assessment.’ At other times, the educational team may have different ideas than a doctor or early childhood intervention specialist so parents must make a choice in how they review the results of the assessment. There are times when parents disagree with the eligibility results, but still agree to have the child put in a special education program.

Choice to Complete Part of the Educational Assessment & Program

Third, some parents complete an autism or early childhood assessment and complete only the eligibility portion of the assessment. However, after the results are presented some of these parents will make the choice not to complete the Individual Educational Program from the local school district. Perhaps, the child is doing well in another program or with behavior therapy so the parent opts out of accepting a structured educational program in the school district.

Choice of Placement Options

Fourth, parents have choices to discuss placement options for the child with autism. Some children need more structured programs with intensive interventions, while other children need less support and can function in regular education programs with limited special education support and consultation.

Choice of Placement Changes

Finally, parents have a choice to work with special education staff to consider autism placement changes. If a special education program is not meeting the child’s needs then the type of program selected for the child may need to be modified. Parents have the option to ask the school to reconvene and have another meeting to discuss trying an optional educational program on a temporary or part time basis to see if the child with autism can function and adapt in the new educational situation. Most importantly, parents are making significant educational choices to help young children with autism. Parent input is extremely helpful and valuable in the child’s autism assessment and educational planning process.