I am grateful to the Wall Street Journal education reporters for calling my attention to the fact that median debt and median earnings data are available for graduate programs at many schools. The articles that they published, “Financially Hobbled for Life: The Elite Master’s Degrees that Don’t Pay Off” and “Is a Graduate Degree Worth the Debt?,” triggered my reviews of their reporting tool and the College Scorecard’s updated dataset used for their data reporting.
I have heard for years that physicians borrow a lot of money to attend medical school. I have also heard that high debt levels are okay because medical doctors make enough money to repay their student loans. Based on the data reported by the Wall Street Journal, I’m not so sure.
After reviewing and writing about the data available for law school graduates in the Wall Street Journal tool, I planned to review the data for medical school graduates and write a similar report. While reviewing the medical school data, I paused when I reached the colleges whose names begin with the letter “D.” At that point, I realized that one of my alma maters, Duke University, was not listed.
On July 8, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published Melissa Korn’s and Andrea Fuller’s article, “Financially Hobbled for ‘Life’: The Elite Master’s Degrees That Don’t Pay Off.” The article opened with the example of recent film program graduates of Columbia University who took out federal loans and had a median debt of $181,000. If the debt load incurred for their degrees wasn’t bad enough, Ms. Korn and Ms. Fuller reported that two years after graduation, half of those student loan borrower graduates were making less than $30,000 a year.
I read about behavioral scientist and Wharton professor Dr. Katy Milkman in the University of Pennsylvania’s alumni magazine, The Pennsylvania Gazette. The article written by Joann Greco piqued my interest about Milkman’s book, "How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" so much that I read it as soon as it arrived.
The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) provides enrollment reporting from colleges and universities that educate approximately 97% of all college students. Several times a year, they issue reports utilizing the aggregated data submitted by its institutional members. Last week, the NSC issued a report about college student persistence that looks at the enrollment and re-enrollment data from the Fall 2019 first-time freshmen.