Well, you’ve probably taken notice of some of the changes here at JerseySmarts.com. From new header images (they rotate) to a slightly streamlined front page to less advertisements on the site, your favorite New Jersey blog is getting freshened up! Aside from the few items that I’ve listed in the previous post, here are some additional changes to this blog. [Read more…]
Some of you might remember two few weeks ago when I posted an entry talking about the major positive effects of canceling all student loan debt. Obviously, with $100,000+ in student loan debt, I would be in favor of such a move by the government! However, I understand that this is my debt which I freely assumed and I have every intention of paying it back, yada, yada, yada.
The purpose of this post, though, is to report back to you all on something I saw when I went over to the petition site earlier today to read some of the brief stories that the signers are posting. I read the blurb below and my jaw hit the floor.
Mr. Obama: I first would like to command you on job well done for past 2 months into your presidency. Most importantly, I would like to urge you to seriously look into this important issue that contributed to greater debt of our nation. Please, consider a relief package for student loan debtors. This will forgive student loan debt and therefore, will enable us to invest in our future and save the economy in the long run.
Seriously? You would like to “command” the President “on job well done for past 2 months into your presidency?” Really? Is that what you want to do? You want the President to seriously look into canceling student loan debt “that contributed to greater debt of our nation?” Yeah?
Are you serious?
If I was President of the United States and a letter like this mess came in (which, by the way, was written in support of an idea!), I’d first laugh out loud and then I’d personally write back to this individual and suggest they engage a lawyer to press charges against their alma mater! How can anyone on the planet take such a disgrace of a letter seriously?
Look, I love the passion that people have regarding student loan cancellation and I agree wholeheartedly with the economic principles behind the concept, but if you can’t write a decent paragraph in favor of the idea, then don’t write anything at all! Sometimes it is okay to shut up!
All I know is that if the student loan cancellation crowd wants to gain any traction, they need to do better than the blurb posted above.
Everyone knows that I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how colleges and college students are being affected by the downturn of the economy. There was last week’s article about how students are paying for more of their college costs. Then there was the article from last month which talked about how colleges are making money from their relationships with the credit card companies. You can go back on this blog and find more information about what’s going on if you’re interested (or read on).
The latest in this miniseries talks about how the colleges themselves are losing their actual monetary value in this market. In other words, college endowments are taking a hit. The New York Times put this article up two weeks ago and it’s an interesting read which I recommend if you get a chance. This struck me from the article:
They found that while endowments gained in value by about 0.5 percent in the old fiscal year, they lost nearly a quarter of their worth in the subsequent five months, a period in which the financial markets sank.
“It’s a rolling contagion that hit us,” Mr. Griswold said.
The pain was spread among institutions large and small, private and public. When endowments were categorized by size, even the least affected — those worth more than $1 billion — were found to have lost an average of 20 percent. Those of $500 million to $1 billion saw the biggest decline, about 25 percent. Public institutions lost an average of 24 percent, private institutions 22 percent.
I have two thoughts about this blurb. First, that’s horrible for the universities and colleges. Losses of that magnitude create real problems for nonprofits and I expect that we’ll see the biggest impact of these declines in September 2009 unless the economy roars back and some of this lost value returns.
Second, for some of the richer colleges I can’t help but think that they got what was coming to them. Come on – you can’t sit on $1 billion (or more) dollars and only offer the most piddling of scholarships and merit awards to your students who really need it. That’s not right. On the same point, I do feel somewhat bad for the major ivy league schools like Harvard who have now all but eliminated undergraduate tuition due to the recent backlash against colleges hording money instead of spending it on their students.
I went to Monmouth University and various places on the internet report that they have an endowment between $41.6 million and $50 million. I’m going to assume that they were at $50 million. If they took the same 25% hit that the Times article is talking about, then they’re down at $37.5 million. Online sources also report an annual tuition of about $35,000 (which has been rounded up from $33,464 to include the cost of books and other random fees). Wikipedia suggests that there are 4,744 undergraduates at Monmouth University right now.
What’s amazing to me is that if you do the math, Monmouth makes some $158.7 million in tuition and fees each year. Wow! For an institution that has been around since 1933, you’d think that they’d be able to raise more than $50 million in their endowment at this point. What is going on/wrong at Monmouth University that their endowment is so small, you ask? Look at the damn tuition!
It seems somewhat interesting to me that the tuition is so high for this school and that the endowment is so low. You would think that those who can afford to go to such a school (by straight payments or student loans like me) would be able to donate back to the school. Is there something going on at Monmouth that is prohibiting its alumni from wanting to donate? Speaking from experience I can tell you that after racking up such a gigantic debt attending the school, I haven’t donated back to it. I have donated back to Rutgers University, though, since they rewarded my good grades with essentially free tuition in my graduate program.
Monmouth might have to revisit its policy towards rewarding those students who are performing well in their classes. Their endowment might depend on it.
This week’s Atlanticville ran a story talking about one of the remaining holdouts in the Long Branch Broadway Arts redevelopment project. What I found upsetting about the article (and thus my impetus to write this post) is what the Atlanticville either forgot or chose not to add in this article. From the article:
A city minister will have until July to find a new place to call home and a new building where he can practice his ministry.
State Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson denied Broadway resident Kevin Brown a stay of the city’s use of eminent domain to take the building where he lives to make way for the Broadway redevelopment project.
Brown has also been trying to establish a place of worship in the building at 162 Broadway for more than a decade. The building is owned by The Lighthouse Mission and is located in the Broadway Corridor redevelopment zone.
This little blurb provides a decent background on the situation in Long Branch. And what an outrage it seems, right? Here is a Pastor who is trying to establish a place of worship for his congregation and attem — wait. There IS a congregation that is being displaced, right? Back to the article…
Brown has been battling the city for more than 10 years to open the Lighthouse Mission Church at the Broadway location.
So there isn’t an actual mission located at this location? There isn’t an actual place of worship that is waiting to open its doors? Hmmm… When I mix that up with other information that the Asbury Park Press has run on this story and you’re talking about a different story entirely.
Instead of a Pastor, his congregation, and his mission being ousted from their only home we have a Pastor with no congregation and no mission being removed from this building. And what of this building? A recent Asbury Park Press article talked about how this building was vacant on the first floor (the proposed location of the mission) and how the Pastor lived upstairs.
Folks, there are a conglomeration of financial institutions who WANT to infuse this area of Long Branch with money, economic advancement opportunities for residents (i.e. jobs), affordable housing options, and artistic/entertainment space. And this plan has not been able to go through because of a non-existent mission and a liquor store?! This is why it takes decades for any real change to happen in our communities.
I’m as much against eminent domain as the next guy. I think it’s vulgar that in the great American political experiment we’ve allowed a pro forma increase in tax revenues to replace existing taxpayers and homeowners. We’re not supposed to operate that way in this country. Yet, this is also a country where we try to work in the best interests of each other. When an entire area is asking for redevelopment, asking for an infusion of private, non-taxpayer money, and asking for their community to get a face-lift, then we should be for that change. In other words, just as strongly as we defend our rights to own our property without eminent domain, we should be fighting just as strongly against lone holdouts in these projects who have questionable ideas on the possibility for their future development.
The Broadway Arts Center project needs to get moving and it needs to get moving immediately. I wish Godspeed to Pastor Brown in finding a place to live in this crazy market (though $450,000 will find you a great place in a nice area of Long Branch) and I admire Pastor Brown’s use of the legal system to plead his case at any and all levels of the judiciary, but now is the time to move forward.