Posts Tagged ‘college’

[This is excerpted from an email exchange with my mother regarding the subject after she sent me a link about student loan forgiveness for teachers from a private company that claims they will get your loans forgiven. She’s a Trump supporter and I support Bernie Sanders. The reason I support Bernie is because he will work to prevent this from happening to today’s high school grads and fix the system so that I won’t be forced to become homeless in order to use the degrees I worked so hard to get to do work that I love.]

When student loan debt is forgiven, it counts as income to the IRS, so I would wind up paying taxes on $200,000 or so.  yup, at the current rate 33%, that’s $66,000 or 6 grand more than I make a year. All because we have fed loans go through banks now and they want their money! 1/2 of the amount that’s “forgiven” is actually issued back to the bank servicing the loan as a tax credit so they wind up not having to pay taxes on any of it. In fact, they get get a tax refund! Oh, and the tax debt for the “loan forgiveness” has to be paid in 2 tax years, and can’t be discharged through bankruptcy. It can’t even be spread out over 7 years in a chapter 13 filing. That’s what we get for giving banks and big business the ability to by politicians.

Here’s the info for teachers https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/teacher and it only covers up to $17,500 in forgiveness, but doesn’t forgive private loans. And Public Service Loan Forgiveness covers all federal loans (not private loans) if you work for a government entity for 10 years and don’t go into default during that time. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

With my fed loans on “income based” – they take 30% of what they consider my disposable income – I pay $304.76 every month. My private loans are $276 and $180 a month in addition to that. I’ve yet to be able to make the minimum monthly payment on my private loans, so I’ve been in default for the past 4 years, with no way of ever catching up.

I’m now looking at them forcing me into bankruptcy, and with the way the laws are written, all of my consumer debt (medical bills) will be wiped clean (yay!) but my private loans will be accelerated payments from 25 years to pay off to 7-10 years to pay off. Meaning my monthly payments will be taken straight from my paychecks for $985 & $643. Out of a paycheck of $2000/twice a month. Add in rent, utilities, internet, car maintenance & gas, and $40 cell phone = no money at all for fur-babies, human food, insurance, or prescription drugs.

Do you see why Bernie Sanders’ proposal to have state colleges for undergrad be tuition free is a huge deal? It would prevent future students from being forced into this situation by channeling tax dollars from folks making over $250,000 a year and put it into college education. https://berniesanders.com/issues/its-time-to-make-college-tuition-free-and-debt-free/  It’s not that much money. Even the economists have backed him on the ability to tax this. His plan is to lower the tax rate on people/families making less than $70k a year while raising it on the higher earners.

The effective tax rate now for a person/family making $250k a year is 20% or less than what we pay. For good comparison of what the ultra-rich pay vs. the poorest look at this historic chart. http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=543 And here’s how Bernie plans to pay for his proposals, all taxes on the rich. https://berniesanders.com/issues/how-bernie-pays-for-his-proposals/ If I made $100k vs. $60k, I’d be happy to pay more taxes.

When Warren Buffet says the rich don’t pay enough taxes http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/warren-buffett-raise-taxes-wealthy-friends/story?id=14307993 and Bill Gates’ dad says the rich don’t pay enough taxes, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-05-20/bill-gates-dad-says-rich-people-aren-t-paying-enough-state-income-taxes, we need to listen the reasonable men and women.

We need to reinstate estate taxes (remember the “Death Tax” the Republicans freaked out about?), which only kick in on estates valued at over $300k, we need to increase the taxes on stock revenue. We need to start looking after our poor, our working class, our middle class, and not the banks, big pharma, big ag, and businesses that are making money off our backs.

Pfizer, the largest drug company in the U.S., is merging with an Irish drug firm to avoid paying even more in U.S. taxes. And by even more, they want their effective tax rate to go from 25% to about 7% while still getting federal funds to cover over half of their drug research and development. If they move overseas, then they should not be able to get US funds for research.







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Distance Education

A good friend put on her blog a couple of posts about the state of distance education at our grad school.  I want to state my support of her views and explain how my undergrad degree, which I completed online, worked so much better than grad school and why.

First off, my undergrad was completed at University of Maryland University College (UMUC); it’s a B.S. in Legal Studies (a paralegal certificate, and the only ABA approved distance education program for paralegal education).  UMUC’s system was superior to our grad school system for 2 reasons – 1) the online program was completely separate from the on-campus program, and 2) there was a different system in place at UMUC for the online component than the online program we use at grad school.

Complete separation of the programs online from on-campus may seem counter-productive at first, but for students it’s the best way to go.  There were no videos to watch (hence, no missed student comments).  The modules could be completed at anytime, the assignments on the discussion board had due dates, but all of the projects were described at the beginning of the semester.  Generally, each course had a legal memo due every Monday.  I would work ahead as much as I wanted, allowing me complete freedom in my schedule.  I would generally do 2 or 3 weeks worth of work, then take a break for a week or 2, then complete another 2 or 3 weeks worth of work.  This allowed me to work at my own pace and receive feedback on my work immediately.  Also, classes were limited to 35 students per professor, so the professors were able to comment on our work immediately, not at the end of the semester as is the case in grad school.

The system UMUC used for their online classes was excellent.  The projects were submitted via discussion board, but the discussion board acted more like a comment string on blog posts.  Responses to projects, and responses to the responses, were in a tree format similar to what we use at grad school, but when an unread message was posted, all of the strings above it were automatically “popped out” so there was a frame of reference for the comment.  This allowed us to have meaningful discussions because there was no having to flip back and forth between comments.

UMUC, unlike grad school, didn’t require us to post a response to other students, but did encourage it.  This difference led to more meaningful discussions.  In grad school, we are required to post a 150 word response to someone else’s posting.  This is so demeaning!  It says “you can’t be trusted to organically create a discussion, so we require you to make a discussion of a minimum amount of words so we can say you are having a discussion.”

Can the grad school program take a lesson from UMUC?  Yes.  I think the first step needs to be complete separation of the online and on-campus courses.  I have had 2 courses at grad school that do not have an online component – these are the 2 best courses I’ve had.  I think if my grad school wants to keep it’s high ranking, it needs to separate the distance education and on-campus education in the next year so that both sets of students benefit from their education.

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