Monday, December 8, 2008

Vote Him In

Come on .... enough is enough. Give Ron Santo what he deserves -- to be a Hall of Famer.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

College Tuition Gets More Expensive

I heard this same story three times today, and not once did anyone explain it well. It's no secret that college tuition can be expensive and that tuition at some schools costs much more than it does at others. It is also no secret that some schools increase their tuition yearly. But when ABC news reports on just how expensive tuition is getting and how it is putting a college education out of reach for some folks, it irritates me ... not that they're wrong, but that they are implying that colleges are increasing tuition without much care for who it hurts. The fact is that increasing tuition is often a college's last option to allow it to continue to function at its normal level (number of classes offered, variety of classes offered, high-quality faculty, safe facilities, ...). College administrators are not dumb; if tuition becomes too high, they lose students, which means that they will get less assistance from the state. And THAT is the problem: states continue to cut the budget for higher education institutions. And, those same colleges are working hard to continue to offer the same education to its students when the resources of that college are shrinking. In order to continue to do what they do, they need to supplement the money that the state is no longer offering them with money from somewhere -- which is often tuition. But, again, this is a last resort, and one that is not taken lightly. Since I have taught at the college-level, I have never heard of a surplus of money coming in from the state. For the last seven years, each school I have taught at has talked about hard times and budget cuts. But more and more students show up, so we are doing more with less. So when tuition is increased, it's not about making a profit (there might be some exceptions to this, but not in the community college realm, at all); it's in an attempt to keep the lights on and help students get what they need.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the A.R.M

We coulda been a statistic -- seriously. You hear about all of these people who are running into trouble affording their monthly mortgage payment, and as I listen, I can't help but thinking about how lucky we are that we got out of our trap when we did. In our previous house, which was our first, we were in a trap-mortgage, which I believe was a 7-year ARM (adjustable rate mortgage). That means that after seven years, the mortgage company would adjust (raise) our interest rate. And, to make matters worse, we had a home equity loan to make up the difference of what we had been short for our 20% down-payment. That, we learned over the months, was not a fixed rate, either. Our payment on that was higher each month, which was tons of fun. Fortunately for us, we sold our home when the market was high, and we made money to have a solid down-payment on our current home, and our mortgage is fixed -- for the next 25+ years. But when I think back to our previous situation, I get sick. We always knew we would refinance, but never thought that the market might be so bad that refinancing wouldn't really be possible. I feel for those who weren't/aren't so fortunate.