Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Americans owe close to a trillion dollars in student loan debt. Changing Gears has been reporting on that debt, a lot of which comes from attending private, for-profit schools. They’re the fastest growing part of higher education, popular for non-degree technical training. Call them career colleges, technical schools or trade schools … just don’t call them cheap.
So I’m at Cobra’s the Grind, eyes-avoiding-buttocks, walking up dimly lit stairs to meet the manager. Steve is a big guy; he started here as a bouncer. He lays his gun down next to us as we talk. He had different life plans after graduating high school in 2006. Continue reading “Student Debt: When Fixing Cars Breaks The Bank”
During the State of the Union speech, President Obama said higher education shouldn’t be a luxury, and he’s committed to funding it. That was the carrot for colleges and universities. This was the stick:
“Let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down,”
It’s been a tough few years for teachers. Classes are bigger. Pay is down. Benefits cost more. And, in the last year, teachers across the Midwest have been at the center of collective bargaining fights in Wisconsin and Ohio. With all that, we wanted to know what it’s like to be a teacher today. So, three generations assembled in Lila Howard’s classroom at Saline High School near Ann Arbor. Howard is about to retire after years teaching AP Psychology. Jason Gumenick teaches government and is in the middle of his career. Then, there’s David Dolsen, a college freshman, who had both of the others as teachers.
You may have heard the promos on air: This afternoon, Changing Gears will host a live web chat with teachers across the Midwest to talk about the many changes in the past year, and what the future may bring. The web chat accompanies a piece by Dan Bobkoff that’s airing across the Changing Gears partner stations today. It’s the latest in our STATES series. If you’re a teacher, or you’re interested in becoming one, join us here at 4:30 EST/3:30 Central.
Today’s question comes from Regina Baldwin of Bowling Green, Ohio.
I am returning to school, while continuing to work full-time, to try to expand on my experience and enhance my ability to get a better job with a degree. I’m concerned that I am on the correct path as I am over 40. I am keeping my student loan debt at a minimum by attending a community college. I am worried that I will not get a better paying job by the time I finish. (If it makes a difference, I am pursing a BS in Business Administration-Computer Information Sciences with a focus on Accounting, and I currently work in healthcare.)
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Chicago unveils microlending program. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a plan Tuesday to create a new organization that helps the city’s small businesses. The Chicago Microlending Institute would train potential lenders on advising and giving loans to people starting small businesses, and would be funded by a $1 million loan pool funded by the city. Our partner station WBEZ says the proposed institute would be run by ACCION Chicago, an area small business lender. Emanuel said small businesses sometimes struggle to get loans from traditional institutions. “That’s the hardest first step,” Emanuel tells WBEZ. “That’s the hardest loan. You don’t have a proven model. You don’t have a proven record.”
2. Auto dealerships undergo facelifts. Three auto dealerships in the Milwaukee area are joining a growing national trend of expanding or renovating their facilities. Jim Tolkan, president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that auto manufacturers are requiring dealerships to remodel in order to meet “a look that is easily recognizable regardless of where you are in the country.” Others are unconvinced that dealers will recoup expensive outlays. “That is the unknown question,” Tolkan tells the newspaper. The National Automobile Dealers Association is expected to issue a report on the subject later this year.
3. Whoops! Indiana finds leftover $320 million. Indiana officials discovered Tuesday the state had $320 million more than anticipated in its main account. Gov. Mitch Daniels said the windfall came as a result of a multi-year programming error that was only recently caught by a stunned employee. Democrats aren’t necessarily buying the explanation after watching Republicans cut public education funding by $300 million at the end of 2009, according to the Indianapolis Star. “This wasn’t just an accounting error,” Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson told the newspaper. “Children got hurt by this, families have suffered.”
People all over our region are deciding whether they should go back to school to learn new skills, and possibly begin a new career. But for some, there’s a big obstacle: how to pay for it. Should you use your savings — or borrow money? What’s the best place for returning students to find scholarships?
Authors Ali Velshi and Christine Romans want to help. All this week, they’re taking Midwest Money questions from our Changing Gears audience.
We’ll be posting their answers during the week of Dec. 19. If Ali and Christine pick your question, you’ll win a copy of their new book, How to Speak Money.
Click here and ask your Midwest Money questions about financing your education, or any other topic.