Critical Rationale Theory

2021 July 8
by drdog09

Financially Hobbled for Life’: The Elite Master’s Degrees That Don’t Pay Off

Recent film program graduates of Columbia University who took out federal student loans had a median debt of $181,000.

Yet two years after earning their master’s degrees, half of the borrowers were making less than $30,000 a year.

The Columbia program offers the most extreme example of how elite universities in recent years have awarded thousands of master’s degrees that don’t provide graduates enough early career earnings to begin paying down their federal student loans, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Education Department data.

Recent Columbia film alumni had the highest debt compared with earnings among graduates of any major university master’s program in the U.S., the Journal found. The New York City university is among the world’s most prestigious schools, and its $11.3 billion endowment ranks it the nation’s eighth wealthiest private school. For years, faculty, staff and students have appealed unsuccessfully to administrators to tap that wealth to aid more graduate students, according to current and former faculty and administrators, and dozens of students. Taxpayers will be on the hook for whatever is left unpaid.

Lured by the aura of degrees from top-flight institutions, many master’s students at universities across the U.S. took on debt beyond what their pay would support, the Journal analysis of federal data on borrowers found. At Columbia, such students graduated from programs including history, social work and architecture.

Passersby at Dodge Hall, home to Columbia University’s School of the Arts on the school’s main campus in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said the Education Department data in the Journal analysis can’t fully assess salary prospects because it covers only earnings and loan repayments two years after graduation. “Nevertheless,” he said, “this is not what we want it to be.”

At New York University, graduates with a master’s degree in publishing borrowed a median $116,000 and had an annual median income of $42,000 two years after the program, the data on recent borrowers show. At Northwestern University, half of those who earned degrees in speech-language pathology borrowed $148,000 or more, and the graduates had a median income of $60,000 two years later. Graduates of the University of Southern California’s marriage and family counseling program borrowed a median $124,000 and half earned $50,000 or less over the same period.


A little tidbit for the audience. Unlike undergrad programs that have caps, there is no upper limit to the amount of funds that can be loaned for post grad level programs. None. See Grad Plus loans.

Now lets see what we can find shall we?

According to BLS stats:

Publishing – $116k debt – $33.52/hr median That seems to square with the $42k figure for someone with 2 years experience. That works to $21/hr at that level. Realize that a welder with 2 years experience and $10k training debt will earn $22.45/hr. Here is what is worse; the upside for the occupation maxxes out at ~$70k per annum.

Speech – $148k debt – $40.02/hr median At the 2 year mark about $30.19/hr. The saving grace for this occupation is there is the ability to nearly double the salary to $120k per annum. Sad bit? A power substation tech of equivalent expertise can earn $41.03/hr and has nearly the same upswing in annual salary.

The prospects for the family counseling is worse. I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.

The student loan system is $1.4Tn to the bad and we taxpayers are the stuckee when it all goes South. Why we tolerate continuing this is beyond me. Worse, why the prospects fall for this is even worse. At a minimum We the People should insist on a Fair Lending Act for Student Loans. The paperwork should state:

“Dear __________ the occupation _____________ to which you have chosen to tie to this loan amount $_________ will be paid off in ____________ (a minus indicates it will never pay off) years.”

What concerns this author even more is that individuals do not seem to have the ability to rationally look at the occupational landscape and do the simple analysis as to whether their job choice is a good one or as they say in the parlance of youth today ‘pays a living wage’ after expenses. And remember these are individuals with soon to be masters degrees!

And so it goes.

48 Responses leave one →
  1. 2021 July 8 1:05 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    If someone cannot do simple math to see if a course of action is profitable or not I do not want them anywhere close to me physically or associated with anything I do.

  2. 2021 July 8 1:25 pm
    PresidentRonaldPaul permalink

    That’s a lot of money, but at least he or she graduated from Columbia and not dumblefk U. Not saying going to dumblefk U. is a bad idea, but it definitely would be if you owe 180k.

  3. 2021 July 8 1:30 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    I burned my bridge with the Ivy League types long ago. I’ve hired them (correctly, dumped on me) for internships. Out of the 2 dozen or so I dealt with not a one of them was worth a plug nickel. The were sharp of course and lazy as F.

  4. 2021 July 8 2:15 pm
    bc3b permalink

    First semester college students should be required to take a class called careers. Students would study 3-5 majors – interview people in the field, determine if it is a growth field, salary ranges, etc.

    Colleges want to keep departments in dead-end fields (fashion design, journalism and social work) going so they can brag about how many majors they offer and don’t have to fire worthless faculty.

  5. 2021 July 8 3:40 pm
    justrand permalink

    a median debt of $181,000

    the AVERAGE (not Median) cost with all expenses included is over $50,000 per year, and most college grads spend FIVE years in order to graduate…so it costs $250,000

    but $181,000 is sufficiently bad. The Democrats keep their little indoctrinated minions on the plantation by promising to pay off their debt. What do I the taxpayer get for paying off the TRILLIONS of dollars of debt from all the GENDER STUDIES morons??? Not a fucking thing.

  6. 2021 July 8 4:10 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    “One-time CNN Presidential candidate Michael Avenatti gets 30mos. in the pokey plus 3yrs of supervised release.”

  7. 2021 July 8 4:12 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    I think it’s clear to most people by now? Education is free. You can learn a ton from YouTube vids and books online.
    Schools simply offer a certificate.
    Fewer people trust those certs each year …

  8. 2021 July 8 4:15 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    One county in CA. Will others also update their stats?
    Santa Clara County officials have reduced the county’s COVID-19 death toll by more than 20%, after concluding that some people who had died mainly of other causes had been listed as disease victims.

  9. 2021 July 8 4:19 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    Why taxpayers?
    Shouldn’t colleges be on the hook to pay off those debts?

  10. 2021 July 8 4:42 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    “Schools simply offer a certificate.
    Fewer people trust those certs each year …”

    Funny you mention that. The HE unit I teach at like to give out ‘badges’, you can also get an AS degree as well. But I rail against this constantly. I keep telling management, that at least for my dept, only industry certs mean anything. Issuing a badge for some level of accomplishment is useless to the greater employment environment. Crickets …..

  11. 2021 July 8 5:05 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    10, drdog, I bet they say to themselves “Maybe we can’t fool the employers but for sure we can fool the students!”

  12. 2021 July 8 5:10 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    “Shouldn’t colleges be on the hook to pay off those debts?”

    “Security, yeah we have a guy up here brandishing logic….” Now imagine the impact? Consider that a third of the entering freshmen never graduate. That means the schools would have to evaluate competency to graduate or go under. Why that would be raycccccist! You mean ACT and SAT scores would mean something?! Why that would be raycccccist! Probably ought to happen!

    I do have a game plan though. I reach vesting in a couple of years. That’s when I punch out. I intend to go before the TX HE committee in Austin and suggest a few things:

    * Why does each school in the system maintain separate financial aid department and the consequent overhead of each? So long as grants and loans remain mostly federalized there is essentially a single standard. So why not consolidate the function? Flush all the high cost VPs. Computerize the hell out of it so it can be done totally online.
    * TX has a standardized curriculum guide called WECM. That means any course I pass meeting the WECM guide automatically qualifies as a full on transfer credit to any other institution in the system. Well then lets drop the fiction of University. A Texas resident declares a conferring institution and then may take any course from ANY other university in the system and the credits are automatically transferred in good standing. The charge rate will be whatever the selected provider issues. Should foster price comparison.
    * Infrastructure costs at any given institution should be a separate line item in the matriculation fee delineated in all courses. That will force certain institutions that have the propensity of building edifices to no effect to reconsider their ways. The cheaper institutions will gain students in the system over the featherbedders.

    I have a few others but those are the main ones.

  13. 2021 July 8 5:12 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    A good guess, that.

  14. 2021 July 8 6:12 pm

    “Fewer people trust those certs each year …”

    I’ve almost always chosen\recommended the person without the degree, but with some hands on experience all other things being about equal or even sometimes a little less in their favor, even if that experience is minimal over those with freshly minted degrees or even ‘certs’ for that matter. Yeah I’d much rather the ind cert over a 4 year degree any day of the week, but I’ll take experience over both most the time. Context was always generally IT space. It may have been different if say it was in the medical or the real engineering space. Though I’m really starting to wonder even about the latter these days as well since da maths is now racist and many other sciences seem now fully (there was always some) polluted with politics, and facts (particularly ones with effects beyond this quarter\this year) seem to matter less and less into decisions made at every level. 😉

    Now get off my lawn! 😉

    12 – Sounds too logical for them implement.

  15. 2021 July 8 6:34 pm

    11 – Yup they’ve already been paid by the time rubber hits the road so to speak , so why would they they care at that point. It’s somewhat true in the cert-factory space too, though at least there most are at least exposed to useful and generally pertinent stuff ( that often has some carry-over to other things in the field as well) and it’s a far cheaper way (and faster) to get a piece of paper that says “I’m interested in this and I’m capable enough, and I can be taught, or will self-teach as needed”.

  16. 2021 July 8 7:05 pm

    off topic:
    WellsFargo – “instead of opening fake accounts we’re now closing real ones!”.
    At least real ones as far as we know at this point.
    Something (beyond the usual bs) is up to kill off existing accounts in the next 60 days.

    Anyone know what he total outstanding on all the locs for that product is for them?

  17. 2021 July 8 7:11 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    Almost makes me want go over to the CU and max out my LoC for cash.

  18. 2021 July 8 7:18 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    KH, I am so old I remember when the IT training dept was ordering the administrators manual for the machine from the maker and staying up till 2am many a night reading RFCs till I was punch drunk. There were no certs and your ‘qualification’ was when the lead admin stopped screaming at you and started asking for your assistance in getting a disk pack change out completed on time or giving you operator level rights to the card reader. 🙂

    The white lab coat was a bonus.

  19. 2021 July 8 7:22 pm

    Nothing new… but yeah I’ve noticed it in the extreme in the last year, things that used to be 12oz boxes are now 10oz + greater price, 10oz can of whatever are now 8.5oz cans. 32oz sports drinks are now 28oz. Microwave dinners general weight unchanged but protein and calorie content down a few grams (less meat more filler) etc, while price is also up. Chip bags same size but even more air-filled (guess they have to still run through the stocks of larger bags) to the point the size is sort of a joke compared to contents, I mean .. do they think most aren’t noticing this?

    Tbh I’d rather they just charge me more (let the inflation be more blatantly seen) and stop changing the fucking product.

  20. 2021 July 8 7:25 pm
    drdog09 permalink

  21. 2021 July 8 7:32 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Another student forgets their password. My reply —

    “Unlike Windows, root == Administrator. If you created the VM you are using you, were asked during install to provide a password for the root account, then asked to set up one ‘normal’ user account and password.

    You should make a practice to write down your login/password pairs. In the educational environment you are working in there no risk doing so. If you can’t remember the password you might have to reinstall.”

    The reason professors get white hair.

  22. 2021 July 8 8:10 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Somebody might get a smile out of this —

  23. 2021 July 8 9:04 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    19, that was funny!
    I like the part around 20:00 where he says he’s not conservative… has never voted Repub in his life … BUT entitled Progs are ruining the planet.

  24. 2021 July 8 9:34 pm
    PresidentRonaldPaul permalink

    Just saying 180k for almost anything at Joe average university isnt worth it.

    However it was for a degree from Harvard, at least there is a debate well maybe it was worth it.

  25. 2021 July 8 9:41 pm
    PresidentRonaldPaul permalink

    Btw anyone can file for loan forgiveness from the government. Essentially, they take a certain amount from your pay yearly for 10 years. If your salary is at poverty level then essentially they take zero dollars a year but if you make say 100k all of a sudden they will take a lot.

    Hint hint- there are neurosurgeons that do this. 7 year residency working at low salary getting student loan forgiveness and then they go on to their fellowship also making low salary. That way once they are done and out earning 1 million dollars a year or whatever they have no student loans to worry about.

  26. 2021 July 9 8:41 am
    drdog09 permalink

    John Hopkins has a problem — — They will be paying millions in a wrongful death suit.

    The only industry with immunity is Pharma. Any other employer mandating The Jab is liable for outcomes of such requests.

  27. 2021 July 9 8:46 am
    drdog09 permalink


  28. 2021 July 9 8:51 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Added additional data to the original piece. Graphic is debt/income relationships.

  29. 2021 July 9 10:53 am
    drdog09 permalink

  30. 2021 July 9 12:09 pm

    29 – I bet if you looked enough The Onion has does predicted\parodied the future quite a bit in the last 20 years. Sad.
    30 – Saw that from mishtalk timely you piece was.

    Anyone buying this cover story?

    On it’s face one might say it’s way to sloppy for clowns in action, but then I’m reminded they’ve dropped maintaining pretexts so many time over the last 20 years one can never be sure.

    FL +Colombians, nice little neat cartelish implication story – Yet me wonders, even those sort of players aren’t brain dead, and usually have a basic exit plan and the means to execute it. So I am to believe these 20 people arrested were just chilling hours later instead of getting on a boat and hanging offshore for at least a week till things shook out? Did authorities just arrest the first 20 foreigners that could speak Spanish they could find?

    Whatever though… bet more investigation will go into all Capital Lego set owners than this.

  31. 2021 July 9 12:30 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Russia preparing to seize bitcoin for those they suspect are gained thru illegal means.

  32. 2021 July 9 1:00 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    Were I a contract killer I would have been on a private jet to Argentina or DRC where there is no extradition. Either the killers were smash heads or it was a US job and they were set up from the beginning to be the fall guys.

  33. 2021 July 9 1:32 pm

    FIB for ~4.5 years: Err… yeah sorry we have no responsive documents re: Seth Rich….try the local PD

    FIB this week: err… well son of bitch wouldn’t you know we had thousands of pages worth…

    34 – Seems that way, and now the FIB and DHS are on there way in cover up and spin the story, distort and destroy evidence, etc as desired and we’ve seen before with their “investigations”.

  34. 2021 July 9 1:40 pm

    I mean duh.. also hilariously naive – “If Republicans gain control of the House or Senate in January 2023, they will be able to conduct robust oversight to investigate and stop such abuses of our intelligence agencies.”.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahaha yeah sure they “can” but it’s not going to happen, just like nothing happened after crossfire razor\hurricane et al and they had congress and it was their own parties POTUS campaign being targeted.

    Fred Fleitz is president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy. He served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and chief of staff of the National Security Council. Fleitz held national security jobs for 25 years with the CIA, DIA, Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. Twitter: @fredfleitz

    Even more funny or maybe just flat disingenuous coming from someone with that background.

  35. 2021 July 9 2:03 pm

    Newsweek pissed cause Kavanaugh and Barrett are being called out as cowards (no surprised really) by other members.

  36. 2021 July 9 2:32 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    The reaction of Trump ppl to all this was not, “no fair!” That’s how they felt about Romney’s “binders of women” in 2012. This is different. Now they see, correctly, that every institution is captured by ppl who will use any means to exclude them from the political process.

    The idea that the press is driven by ratings/sensationalism became untenable. If that were true, they’d be all over the Epstein story. The corporate press is the propaganda arm of the Regime they now see in outline. Nothing anyone says will ever make them unsee that, period… This is profoundly disorienting. Many of them don’t know for certain whether ballots were faked in November 2020, but they know for absolute certain that the press, the FBI, etc would lie to them if there was. They have every reason to believe that, and it’s probably true… They always claimed the media had liberal bias, fine, whatever. They still thought the press would admit truth if they were cornered. Now they don’t.

  37. 2021 July 9 3:12 pm

    Been reading about this birds dying\blind thing for months… apparently it’s getting worse though?

    Totally unrelated and random: Younger Dryas impact hypothesis (now I think upgraded to theory):
    Chock full inconvenient “climate” data cause these homies focus on type of ‘climate changes’ that have actually mattered, and not 2-3 degree flux during stable periods like the pansies are whining about today. Tried falling asleep to it but it was too interesting and instead kept me up all night.

    Joe Rogan Experience #606 – Randall Carlson

    More if it actually interests anyone.
    Joe Rogan Experience #725 – Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson

    Joe Rogan Experience #872 – Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson

    Joe Rogan Experience #961 – Graham Hancock, Randall Carlson & Michael Shermer

  38. 2021 July 9 3:21 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    Heh. “Tried falling asleep to it but it was too interesting and instead kept me up all night.”
    I’ve read a little Graham Hancock. Maybe he died recently? Interesting guy, or at least, fascinated by interesting stuff.

  39. 2021 July 9 3:29 pm

    38 – Whole thread ( is laced with still calling everything conspiracy theories and generally dumping on anyone who think there were election shenanigans but with the twist that the author doesn’t much blame them since at least he can admit they have very very good reason to be suspicious as hell. Then lists some of the actual election shenanigans, not to mention a few other things (with plenty left out) that were all previously labeled “conspiracy theories” in 2016\2017 by people like him …but turned out to be fact – and even worse than first thought.

    So it’s a bit confusing.

  40. 2021 July 9 3:37 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    The Bee
    ESPN Anchor Fired After Being Caught On Mic Actually Talking About Sports
    Ms. Steele was fired from her job as SportsCenter host has been reassigned to cover cornhole and will also be sent to DIE – Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity training.

  41. 2021 July 9 3:45 pm

    40 – IDK supposedly he was on the show about 6mo ago (some random comment on YT 3 weeks ago said this) but I can find no DL able copy of said cast. Wiki says he’s still alive. Randell is how ever on the list for scheduled guests coming again in ‘coming months’, no firm date set yet.

  42. 2021 July 9 4:36 pm
    PresidentRonaldPaul permalink

  43. 2021 July 9 5:05 pm
    JimNorCal permalink

    Yeah, Hancock’s still alive. My online friend who’s read all his books died last month though.
    Wow, KH, you are en fuego today 🙂 🙂
    I’ll plan to work my way through those Rogan shows, they sound interesting.

  44. 2021 July 9 6:33 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    “So it’s a bit confusing.” Surprised?

    That is the mental state of most Progs.

  45. 2021 July 9 6:39 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    Well I assume that China means to nuke Japan. If it stays a conventional naval battle, china will lose. 2nd largest navy on the planet. They have sly captains too. In 4 out of the last 5 pan-pacific exercises their sub captains have been able to get a shot on the carrier in the exercises.

    Japan has also put the marker down that they will defend Taiwan. That is a economic choice because many of the chips they use are made there for Japan’s own mfg lines.

  46. 2021 July 9 9:43 pm

    47 – Id’ bet on CN on that one conventionally in the present-2025 time horizon, while not everything goes according to wargaming, it’s pathetic what happens to US and JAP in them, even giving ourselves and japs tech and munitions that will not be fielded in numbers till then to use today barely prevents an invasion and come at significant cost – costs the US can’t afford. Besides CN wants the value\assets intact imho, and the disruption in attempting it makes to many enemies simultaneously right now, not to mention destroying those assets would be the US’s only real involvement imho if were to happen tomorrow.

    Talk is cheap on all sides.

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