WBEZ | higher education http://www.wbez.org/tags/higher-education Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Student loan debt hurdle for Chicago's wanna-be homebuyers http://www.wbez.org/news/student-loan-debt-hurdle-chicagos-wanna-be-homebuyers-110340 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/michelle-tim-student-loans_0.jpg" style="height: 373px; width: 280px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Michelle Skinner and Tim Johnson have been married for almost a year, and were hoping to buy a house, but they’re struggling to save because of their student loan debt. Johnson has $27,000 from UIC, and though Skinner is getting her pHD at the University of Chicago, her $70,000 in loans from UIC will begin to slowly come out of deferment next year. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />There&rsquo;s one room in his Bridgeport apartment that Tim Johnson likes to make special note of when giving a grand tour. The bright, sunny space used to be the landlord&#39;s bedroom, but now it functions as a living room for him and his wife Michelle Skinner.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not what makes it special.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really proud of this room because we didn&rsquo;t pay for anything in it,&rdquo; Johnson announces. &ldquo;Everything came from family members or we found it somewhere. Except for the credenza, we had to buy that because nothing else fit.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s easy to see that Johnson prides himself in his penny-pinching skills. He says he even tracks his credit score like some others might track their favorite sports team.</p><p>But even with his meticulous financial planning, the newlyweds say that buying a home is out of the question - thanks to their student loan debt.</p><p>Johnson, 27, has about $27,000 in student loans from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He says his payments are manageable for now, but as Skinner, 23, continues through her PhD program at the University of Chicago, her $70,000 in undergraduate loans will slowly come out of deferment -- making it almost impossible for them to save enough for things like a downpayment or closing costs, no matter how badly they want more room for a baby one day.</p><p>&ldquo;We try to save Tim&rsquo;s bonuses for it,&rdquo; Skinner said. &ldquo;But the market prices have been increasing - or at least what we need has been increasing at a proportion to which we can&rsquo;t save.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve given up on it for like five years,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;Once Michelle gets out of school and gets a full-time position then we can start to look. And what has me worried is, (whether) we&rsquo;ll have a down payment by that point.&rdquo;</p><p>You don&rsquo;t have to look far to find another example of hopeful home-buyers struggling to get out from under their student debt. Just a few blocks away, Martin Gleason and Shannon Glass are also doing the math to see whether they can buy a home with all their student loan debt.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/marty-shannon-student-loans_0.jpg" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Marty Gleason and Shannon Glass have been living in their Bridgeport apartment for the last three years. They’d love to buy a bigger place, but with his $96,000 worth of student debt, and her soon to be $25,000 in student debt, they don’t think they can afford it. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />They&rsquo;ve been married since 2009, and have been living in Bridgeport for the last three years. Gleason has around $96,000 in student debt from both undergrad and graduate school -- he&rsquo;s currently a Juvenile Court Probation officer, but is making a career switch to IT. Shannon, his wife, is currently going back to school, and even though her job at Time Magazine reimburses about half of her tuition, she&rsquo;ll still need about $25,000 in loans.</p><p>&ldquo;To be fair, it&rsquo;s not unbearable,&rdquo; Gleason said. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s also like we&rsquo;re treading water.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to know just how many other Chicagoans are in a similar situation, as research or housing data only really keeps track of the people who end up buying a place. For example, the <a href="http://economistsoutlook.blogs.realtor.org/2014/06/05/nar-survey-data-student-debt-and-saving-for-downpayment-among-successful-home-buyers/">National Association of Realtors</a> found that 54 percent of first-time homebuyers reported that student debt delayed saving for the purchase of a home, but they can&rsquo;t count how many didn&rsquo;t buy, or couldn&rsquo;t buy, because of student debt.</p><p>But local realtors and lenders will tell you, they see this all the time.</p><p>&ldquo;The thing that&rsquo;s really sad about this is that we are, particularly in the Chicago market, at an all-time high of affordability. Interest rates are so low, that you&rsquo;re able to buy much more of a house,&rdquo; said <a href="http://www.atproperties.com/agents/4064/david-zwarycz">David &nbsp;Zwarycz</a>, broker associate at @properties. &quot;However, if your available funds are being depleted because you&rsquo;re servicing student debt, you&rsquo;re losing out on this opportunity.&rdquo;</p><p>But even if wanna-be buyers with student debt can cobble together enough for that down payment, there&rsquo;s still another hurdle that&rsquo;s hitting them particularly hard. It&rsquo;s called the debt-to-income ratio, and it means pretty much just that.</p><p>You add up all your monthly debt payments -- like student loans, car loans, credit card debt -- and divide it by your monthly income. Some experts say rent is also included in the calculation, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau contends it&rsquo;s included in a separate equation.</p><p>New <a href="http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/1791/what-debt-income-ratio-why-43-debt-income-ratio-important.html">Consumer Financial Protection Bureau</a> rules that started in January maintain that 43 percent is the highest ratio a borrower can have and still get a qualified mortgage from a lender. So if you&rsquo;re bringing home $3500 a month, that only gives you about $1500 to pay all of your bills and come in at 43 percent.</p><p>And with Illinois <a href="http://projectonstudentdebt.org/state_by_state-view2013.php?area=IL">graduates </a>carrying an average of $28,000 in student loan debt, 43 percent can be a tough number to avoid, so a lot of hopeful young buyers are getting turned down.</p><p>Dan Gjeldum, senior vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate, says they deal with this often. They&rsquo;ve also seen a lot of parents coming in recently to co-sign to try and help the cause.</p><p>&ldquo;There are more and more people who have student debt for sure,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The increase in cost of college education, as a father with four kids - three in elementary school and one in preschool - I don&rsquo;t freak out daily about it, but whenever I think about it, I get nervous.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know if the industry could have planned ahead for it, or viewed it any differently because the debt is real, and the debt has to be paid back, I think it&rsquo;s a problem that&rsquo;s going to move into the future because of the rising cost of education.&rdquo;</p><p>For those who just squeak in under the debt-to-income-ratio, Zwarycz says their debt still matters, as the more they carry, the weaker their buying power. And he says that&rsquo;s been causing a slowdown in Chicago&rsquo;s entry level market.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s this large amount of inventory particularly in the city&rsquo;s smaller condominiums that are typically first-time homebuyer properties. If an individual can&rsquo;t sell their first-time home property that they bought five years ago, they can&rsquo;t move up to the upgrade property. And that has sort of a ripple effect through the entire market,&rdquo; Zwarycz said.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s a reason these restrictions were put into place in the first place.</p><p>&ldquo;At the end of the day, I&rsquo;d rather us be complaining about lending being too strict, that it being too loose,&quot; said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac VP.</p><p>Blomquist said he&rsquo;s worried about all this too, but experiencing another big crash like 2008 is a much bigger concern.</p><p>&ldquo;Too loose lending got us into the housing bubble, so it&rsquo;s the lesser of two evils, I would say, to have us have tough lending and it is keeping things in check,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t wave a magic wand and make that student loan debt not be a factor in loan qualification, and even if we did have that magic wand, we shouldn&rsquo;t use it because it would have hugely negative impacts on the housing market.&rdquo;</p><p>David Zwarycz&rsquo;s partner <a href="http://debradobbs.com/">Debra Dobbs</a> says she&rsquo;s constantly talking to colleagues about finding a way around this problem.</p><p>She says maybe lenders could start dealing with student debt differently in the ratio than say credit card debt from big clothing purchases or an auto loan for a fancy car.</p><p>She&rsquo;s tired of seeing clients like a married couple - both doctors - who have so much student debt that their combined salaries still weren&rsquo;t enough to get a loan the first time.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her</em> <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></p><p><em>This story was edited June 16, 2014, to clarify what factors are included in the debt-to-income ratio.</em></p></p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 07:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/student-loan-debt-hurdle-chicagos-wanna-be-homebuyers-110340 UIC faculty claim higher cause http://www.wbez.org/news/uic-faculty-claim-higher-cause-109732 <p><p>As University of Illinois at Chicago faculty members went on strike this week for the first time in school history, English Professor Walter Benn Michaels took a break from picketing to give a reporter a lesson about the academic pecking order.</p><p>Looking up at the school&rsquo;s tallest building &mdash; the 28-story University Hall &mdash; Michaels pointed out that the top floors are for UIC&rsquo;s senior administration. &ldquo;You got people up there making a lot of money,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The building&rsquo;s other floors are for various academic departments, including English, headed by Michaels, whose office is on the 20th. Among the tenured and tenure-track faculty, he said, &ldquo;there are some people like me who are well-paid.&rdquo;<br /><br />But go down one floor to the 19th and &ldquo;you have the exact opposite,&rdquo; Michaels said. &ldquo;You have the non-tenure-track English professors who are making mainly $30,000 a year. A few lucky ones &mdash; some of them have been here 15-20 years &mdash; are making $35,000.&rdquo;<br /><br />Most of these employees, Michaels pointed out, have doctoral degrees and teach full-time for UIC.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MichaelsSCALED.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 300px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Walter Benn Michaels, a professor who heads the University of Illinois at Chicago’s English Department, works on the 20th floor of University Hall. He says he’s backing the strike to stand up for students and his department’s lowest-paid instructors, who work on the 19th floor. WBEZ/Chip Mitchell" /></div><p>Eighteen months since the Illinois Federation of Teachers won certification to represent 1,100 of the school&rsquo;s faculty members, they are still trying to get their first collective-bargaining agreement.</p><p>Their dispute has become a flashpoint in a nationwide battle over the fate of higher education. On many campuses, that battle pits socially driven professors against market-oriented administrators and trustees or, as Michaels describes them, &ldquo;neoliberal&rdquo; forces.<br /><br />The main unresolved UIC bargaining issues concern faculty compensation. The school&rsquo;s administrators say they cannot give the union all it wants. Over four years, according to UIC, the faculty&rsquo;s demands would hike costs by 23 percent for tenure-system faculty and 27 percent for the rest.<br /><br />But faculty members say the two-day work stoppage, which ends Wednesday, is about more than their pocketbooks. They say it is about their students.</p><p>&ldquo;We would like, for example, to have all the English majors to do senior theses,&rdquo; Michaels told me. &ldquo;But, when you have a tenure-track department faculty of 33 people, you can&rsquo;t be having hundreds of English majors doing senior theses.&rdquo;</p><p>The only way to properly advise all these students, Michaels said, would be to deploy the department&rsquo;s non-tenure-track faculty &mdash; the folks who get $30,000 or $35,000 a year.<br /><br />&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t turn to these people and say, &lsquo;I want to add some additional work, which is hard work and which requires a lot of personal hours with students,&rsquo; &rdquo; Michaels said. &ldquo;How can I ask them to do that when I can offer them nothing? I can&rsquo;t offer them a promotion. I can&rsquo;t offer them a better wage.&rdquo;<br /><br />Professors in fields ranging from art history to philosophy also claim that it has become harder to get approval for courses that may not attract hoards of students.<br /><br />When it comes to colleges and universities struggling to do right by their students, UIC is less the exception than the rule, according to Gary Rhoades, director of the University of Arizona&rsquo;s Center for the Study of Higher Education.<br /><br />At many schools, Rhoades said, professors are resisting &ldquo;administrative desires to narrow the range of fields in which education is provided, to concentrate resources on a few areas that [management] thinks are going to pay off &mdash; either in terms of bringing in research moneys [or] cutting off areas that are not seen to be so valuable in the marketplace for the student.&rdquo;<br /><br />The academic areas deemed valuable, Rhoades explained, are those that help students get jobs as soon as they graduate.<br /><br />Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, suggested that UIC emulate &ldquo;smart&rdquo; universities and colleges that have formed consortia and transitioned to interactive video. He said there may not be any other affordable way to provide low-enrollment programs ranging from classics to foreign languages.<br /><br />Poliakoff also echoed Harvard Business School management guru Clayton Christensen, who says on-the-job training is pushing aside the traditional U.S. higher-education model. &ldquo;Fifteen years from now, half of the colleges and universities in this nation are going to be in bankruptcy,&rdquo; Poliakoff warned.<br /><br />&ldquo;Universities can&rsquo;t be everything to everybody,&rdquo; Poliakoff said. &ldquo;If they try to do that &mdash; especially if you have faculty collective-bargaining agreements attempting to protect programs even when they&rsquo;re not financially viable &mdash; then the school is really headed for financial disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It is the business of an institution to ensure that it is cost-effective,&rdquo; Poliakoff said.<br /><br />The UIC faculty members call their strike an effort to ward off that sort of thinking. They insist they are standing up for their students.<br /><br />&ldquo;When I teach American literature,&rdquo; Michaels said, &ldquo;they&rsquo;re going to learn something about the value of literature &mdash; something that they&rsquo;ll take with them all the way through their lives. That&rsquo;s important to us. That&rsquo;s part of what a university is.&rdquo;<br /><br />When the sides resume bargaining this Friday, they will have to decide whether that value is something the school can still afford.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Feb 2014 07:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/uic-faculty-claim-higher-cause-109732 Morning Shift: Making college more accessible for low-income students http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-21/morning-shift-making-college-more-accessible-low <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at how to get more low income kids into college-and explore the challenges faced by both potential students and universities. Also, an update on Senate hearings calling for reform at DCFS.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-healing-process-for-victims-and/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-healing-process-for-victims-and.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-healing-process-for-victims-and" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Making college more accessible for low-income students" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 21 Jan 2014 08:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-21/morning-shift-making-college-more-accessible-low Morning Shift: New strategies for higher ed http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-12/morning-shift-new-strategies-higher-ed-109353 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover photo Flickr davidcharlow.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at what some lawmakers and organizations are doing to try to combat the ever-increasing price of college textbooks. Plus, what trends and changes are happening in college admissions?&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-addressing-the-affordability-or-lack/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-addressing-the-affordability-or-lack.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-addressing-the-affordability-or-lack" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: New strategies for higher ed" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 08:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-12/morning-shift-new-strategies-higher-ed-109353 In their own words: Fear of freshman year http://www.wbez.org/their-own-words-fear-freshman-year-108361 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Aaron%20Atchison_by%20Bill%20Healy.jpg" title="Aaron Atchison (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />For more than three million students like me in the U.S., this year means going off to college for the first time. As you can imagine, it&rsquo;s a stressful time. I&rsquo;ve been worrying about this transition for a few months now, almost since I graduated from Whitney Young High School in Chicago last June.</p><p>I&rsquo;m afraid to find out that I&rsquo;m not as headstrong or independent as I think I am. But I know I need to get away.&nbsp; As much as I love living in a city with about 500 murders a year and brutal winters, something tells me it&rsquo;s time to go. So I&rsquo;m leaving to study journalism at Arizona State University.</p><p>I know I&rsquo;m not the only one buggin&rsquo; out. So I decided to check in with other folks my age who are in the same boat.</p><p><object height="465" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634999702504%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F9473321132%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634999702504%2Fwith%2F9473321132%2F&amp;set_id=72157634999702504&amp;jump_to=9473321132" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634999702504%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F9473321132%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634999702504%2Fwith%2F9473321132%2F&amp;set_id=72157634999702504&amp;jump_to=9473321132" height="465" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><p><em>More Chicago area students headed to college: Josh Wilks,&nbsp;Alejandra Chavez, the&nbsp;Pietz triplets and Osbeyda Navarrete.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 08:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/their-own-words-fear-freshman-year-108361 The university down the block http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/university-down-block-108021 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F100619008&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="340" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/qu4ehMfC6uA" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Dabney Lyles, a graduate student at DePaul University, spent spring break in Salvador, Brazil. She noticed the region had a huge technology cluster and how closely knit it was to the local universities. Chicago, she figured, has even more schools than Salvador, so that got her thinking about this Curious City question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What economic impact do local colleges and universities have on the city&rsquo;s economy?</em></p><p>There are lots of ways to answer this question, though, so Dabney and others thought it would work to focus on how a university can benefit or hinder the economic growth of its surrounding neighborhood.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dabney mug.jpg" style="float: right; height: 150px; width: 200px;" title="Dabney Lyles, who asked this question. (Photo courtesy Dabney Lyles)" /></p><p>Makes sense sense, right? After all, the Chicago metro area is huge, and the higher ed community&rsquo;s large, too, with more than 90 colleges and universities.</p><p>Some institutions &mdash; such as the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and DePaul University &mdash; have hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and generate hundreds of millions more in revenue. Yes, a good deal of that goes back into the schools, but they still have plenty of economic heft to toss beyond campus.</p><p>And the neighbors can be the better or the worse for it.</p><p><strong>The immovable &lsquo;eds and meds&rsquo;</strong></p><p>Before diving into a specific example from the city&rsquo;s South Side, you should know there&rsquo;s actually been quite a bit written on this topic. One researcher with a birdseye view happens to be Chicago&rsquo;s own David Perry, a professor of urban planning and public affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago.</p><p>Some of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;field-keywords=david+perry+higher+education">his titles </a>suggest we should think of colleges and universities as anchor institutions.</p><p>&ldquo;They are not necessarily market-based institutions. They are placed-based institutions. You can think of universities, eds. You can think of hospitals, meds. Eds and meds,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Perry says it&rsquo;s difficult to move these entities from one city to another. (Consider, for example, what it would mean for the University of Illinois at Chicago to, um, leave Chicago).</p><p>&ldquo;What is a university, a hospital, a government doing to create, to build the place, develop the place? Boeing may leave in another five years, but the University of Chicago is going to be here,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not going anywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>And higher ed&rsquo;s tendency to stay in place means a good deal of its money stays in place, too. Perry says urban institutions enroll 14 million students each year. They generate over $700 billion in gross physical land assets and take in more than $405 billion in revenue.</p><p>&ldquo;We spend over $340 billion every year in the communities around us on everything from toilet paper to faculty,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Perry says some of those city dollars are generated because urban universities are also developers. He points to the academic corridor in downtown Chicago. DePaul&rsquo;s University Center was once the Goldblatt store.</p><p>&ldquo;The Goldblatt people, like Marshall Field&rsquo;s, Carson Pirie Scott left the corridor,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Their leaving embodied what a lot of stores were doing. The private sector, the market sector was just bailing out of the city of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>For a long time, that large space of real estate in downtown was like an empty donut hole. No tax incentives or a cheap price could get a private business to move in. But with the help of then Mayor Richard M. Daley, DePaul University moved in. Daley, by the way, is a DePaul alumnus.</p><p>&ldquo;It did three things. The top floors are graduate floors. The middle floors, the city leased from DePaul and DePaul then got a long term client to pay off the loans it took out to retrofit the building,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And the bottom floors went to the private sector.&rdquo;</p><p>That includes stores and restaurants that cater to students and faculty, as well as people working around the downtown area.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/demolishion%202%20for%20web.jpg" style="float: left; height: 223px; width: 300px;" title="Tenants move out of a South Woodlawn apartment after the University of Chicago bought the land. Some Woodlawn community members say their relationship with the university hasn't always been favorable. (Photo courtesy University of Chicago)" /></p><p>While the city doesn&rsquo;t get much in terms of property tax from this deal, Perry says it profits from the private businesses and helped spur more development around a once stagnate area. Since the buildout in the early 90s, Chicago&rsquo;s academic corridor now houses 30 universities and colleges.</p><p><strong>The (economic) monster on the midway?</strong></p><p>But Perry also says treating a university as a developer can cut both ways; yep, it can be a boon, but it can also cost the surrounding neighborhood. That goes for several Chicago universities, which have had their fair share of contentious relationships over the years.</p><p>There are several examples. There&rsquo;s UIC, which struggled with the Little Italy neighborhood while building its East Campus. And in Evanston, the city government and Northwestern University debate the school&rsquo;s tax exempt status.</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s the University of Chicago.</p><p>The U of C sits in Hyde Park, a somewhat tony South Side neighborhood that &mdash; economically speaking &mdash; didn&rsquo;t really have a lot happening in it for many years.</p><p>Arguably the most contentious relationship the university has had in the past is with the nearby Woodlawn neighborhood. In the 1960s neighbors and university officials fought over plans to develop in the area. Mattie Butler, founder of Woodlawn East Community and Neighbors, remembers the decades-long back and forth.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DEMOLISHION FOR WEB.jpg" style="float: right;" title="A building in Hyde Park that was purchased by the University of Chicago. (Photo courtesy University of Chicago)" /></p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve lived in this community since 1963. So all of my adult life. And I&rsquo;m now 70 years old,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I&rsquo;ve seen it come and I&rsquo;ve seen it go.&rdquo;</p><p>Butler says during the 1960s, the university bought property around 60th and 61st Streets in Woodlawn. This is after the school dramatically developed areas in Hyde Park.</p><p>Butler says poor people were driven from their homes as new university development went up. Community members organized against the university&rsquo;s efforts, and were able to take a property called Woodlawn Gardens at 63rd and Cottage Grove to house low-income residents.</p><p>&ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t do it right,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t built right, and so after about 10 years, 15 years, they started having massive problems with everything over there and not enough money to support it. And it was infested once again by gangs.&rdquo;</p><p>The property was eventually foreclosed on, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took possession in the 80s. It became Grove Parc, and is once again being redeveloped into Woodlawn Park.</p><p>Butler blames the university&rsquo;s aggressive plans of the time for the early failure.</p><p>&ldquo;But the University of Chicago since the time of us having a real issue with them, not playing a role that we thought was a well played out role, has since come to the table with &mdash; I&rsquo;m hoping &mdash; some sense,&rdquo; she said, adding the institution deserves a rating of 7 out of 10. In particular, she lauds the university&rsquo;s role in improving local schools.</p><p><strong>Art in Washington Park</strong></p><p>University Vice President of Civic Engagement Derek Douglas admits the school has created barriers, but it&rsquo;s using some of its economic might to forge a new path.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re trying to do more now is create a bridge between the university and the community,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Douglas makes the point by showing us the university&rsquo;s arts incubator in the Washington Park neighborhood. It was a long-abandoned space that the university redeveloped and opened this past spring.</p><p>He says redeveloping the facility was a community effort.</p><p>&ldquo;There has been trust issues in the past where certain things were done that the community disagreed with or didn&rsquo;t like the way it was approached. And so that creates trust issues,&rdquo; Douglas said. &ldquo;As you&rsquo;re starting to have a new approach, it takes time to build up that trust, to build up that relationship. Spaces like the arts incubator go a long way towards restoring that.&rdquo;</p><p>He says spaces like the arts incubator don&rsquo;t employ a lot of people, and there&rsquo;s no direct revenue, but there are economic effects. Spaces like this stabilize a neighborhood, and it can demonstrate to other developers that the neighborhood&rsquo;s an attractive place to live and invest.</p><p><strong>Arrival of assembly-line burritos?</strong></p><p>But the U of C&rsquo;s got designs on its own, contemporary home turf, especially when it comes to bread-and-butter retail.</p><p>&ldquo;Hyde Park is great in so many ways. It&rsquo;s got this lakefront location. It&rsquo;s got the university. It&rsquo;s got good schools, public schools, private schools that are here. It&rsquo;s got good medical care,&rdquo; said David Greene, Executive Vice President of the University of Chicago. &ldquo;But what there haven&rsquo;t been is the kind of amenities that there have been throughout Chicago for people to focus their energy here.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/inside%20incubator%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left;" title="The inside the University of Chicago's new arts incubator lab. The lab was created with input from local aldermen and the surrounding community. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>Greene says the school&rsquo;s developing a bigger commercial presence, and it&rsquo;s taking cues from residents.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve done a lot of surveys in this. And the number one thing people wanted was Chipotle,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>So ... assembly line burritos will be coming soon to the neighborhood. But aside from that, Greene says students and residents asked for better shopping, restaurants and entertainment like a music venue and movie theater. That&rsquo;s while the university is building out its commercial corridor along 53rd Street.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ll start to see the mix of existing structures that have long been here on 53rd Street, as well as the start of some new development that&rsquo;s coming along. There some areas that we&rsquo;ll come to that have long been vacant and are now starting to thrive with new businesses,&rdquo; Greene said.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s in it for the schools ... and the city?</strong></p><p>UIC&rsquo;s David Perry says more universities are finding it essential to work with their neighbors. If they don&rsquo;t, he says, they could lose students &mdash; a prospect that no city wants to face.</p><p>Universities provide trained workers for local companies, indirect jobs for residents, and cash flow for surrounding businesses. The private sector has also done this, but Perry points out that these companies can get up and move at anytime. Not so much with the higher education sector.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the notion of universities doing things and us doing things with universities, because they can&rsquo;t do it alone that helps us create the coalitions of place that we need to invest in Chicago,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Susie An is a WBEZ business reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/soosieon">@soosieon</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 18:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/university-down-block-108021 Before we start our homework http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/we-start-our-homework-107717 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/susie thumbnail.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This post asked how we may best focus Dabney Lyles&#39; question. To those who helped by leaving comments below, on our <a href="https://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook page</a>, or via <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter</a>: Thanks so much! Your efforts really paid off. Susie An and Logan Jaffe&#39;s<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/university-down-block-108021"> finished the investigation</a></em>.&nbsp;</p><p>Recall that Dabney Lyles, a DePaul graduate student living in downtown Chicago, asked a question that won a Curious City voting round:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What effect do Chicago&rsquo;s colleges and universities have on the local economy?</em></p><p>After a quick convo, Dabney and I decided to get some help from our fellow Curious Citizens. (That would be, um, you.) After all, there are dozens of colleges and universities in the area, and there are just as many angles to explore. So before we sharpen the pencils and start our homework, we&rsquo;d like clarification on the assignment.</p><p>First, just a little background from Dabney. What got her interested in the first place was a trip to Salvador, Brazil, where she studied the city&rsquo;s technology cluster. She noticed that universities played a major role in research, but they also provided students to be recruited for internships and jobs. Salvador&rsquo;s economic initiative seemed focused on bolstering young talent for the local workforce. Dabney wondered how that plays out in her own city of Chicago.</p><p>And I had some experience to kick in, too. I went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where few students would remain in town after graduation and where some businesses would limit their hours when school was out. In other words, it was a real campus town. Chicago has so many schools but they&rsquo;re secondary to the city itself. I wouldn&rsquo;t mind looking into how money is married between a stand-alone city economy and its many colleges.</p><p>So, here&rsquo;s the short list of angles for you to comment on:</p><ul><li>How much do businesses cater to the many students in the area?</li><li>Do municipal or local investments in university projects pay off?</li><li>Just where does all that tuition money go?</li><li>How might a university benefit or hinder the economic growth of its neighborhood?</li></ul><p>Any suggestion or lead, though, would be great, as the Curious City crew has plenty of grade anxiety! Drop your suggestion in the comments below, or hit Curious City on <a href="https://www.twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a> or <a href="https://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>.</p><p><a name="Timeline"></a><iframe frameborder="0" height="620" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0Am-AbC8HDbXMdGtwa0I3NjJZZ2t4T0J6WUFTRjBoWlE&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=620" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 19:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/we-start-our-homework-107717 Parents put off retirement to pay for kids' college http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-put-retirement-pay-kids-college-106079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Patty.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Patty Halajian is a seamstress in Lake Zurich, Ill. Mostly she sews costumes for local theater shows. She&rsquo;s never been rich, but always made ends meet.</p><p>Halajian has two daughters. Her husband died of a heart attack right before their oldest daughter graduated high school. When it came time to pick a college, her daughter was still mourning. So when she got in to Butler university, everyone was relieved to have some good news.</p><p>But her daughter&#39;s student loans couldn&rsquo;t cover the cost. So Halajian borrowed $14,000.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean you&rsquo;ve nurtured them their whole life,&quot; Halajian said. &quot;They get to the goal line it&rsquo;s finally they are going to graduate from H.S. and go to a great college. And you know if you do this for them they are going to have a great life. You do it. You just do it.&rdquo;</p><p>The loan Halajian took out is called a <a href="http://www.parentplusloan.com/">PLUS loan</a>.&nbsp; Nearly a million parents took out these loans last year. On average, they borrowed $12,000.</p><p>The loan is federally distributed, but has higher interest than a student loan: 7.9 percent.&nbsp;</p><p>Parents can borrow an enormous amount of money--up to the full amount of tuition--with no regard to for income or other debts. So it&rsquo;s easy to get in over your head.</p><p>Often these decisions are the last hoop to jump through to get to college. The decision is fast. And often no one is there to explain the consequences.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t understand it all,&quot; Halajian said. &quot;I was adrift at sea.&rdquo;</p><p>Jason Delisle is the director of the Federal Education Budget Project, a non-partisan organization that provides research on education spending.</p><p>&ldquo;I call it predatory lending,&quot; Delisle said. &quot;You got someone in a vulnerable situation. They don&rsquo;t want to say no. You just sign on the dotted line&quot;</p><p>PLUS loans were put in place to help poor and working class kids go to college. Student aid advocates have pushed for a long time to make loans simpler and easier to get. But now advocates say these PLUS loans may be hurting the people they intended to help.</p><p>&ldquo;These are essentially sub prime loans,&quot; Delisle said. &quot;Only it&rsquo;s not the government that&rsquo;s being predatory, it&rsquo;s the institution of higher learning.&quot;</p><p>AARP recently examined data on people between age 50 and 65. They don&rsquo;t know exactly how many of them had PLUS loans, but one in 10 still had some sort of education debt. The average amount was just over $28,000.</p><p>That education debt is nearly impossible to erase through bankruptcy, and can be garnished from social security payments. PLUS loans can&#39;t be turned over to the student, making a parent responsible until it&#39;s paid off.</p><p>That&rsquo;s forcing some parents like Halijian to put off retirement. She is 60 and still working as a seamstress. She owes $8,000 dollars on a PLUS loan and will likely still be making payments into her 70s or 80s.</p><p>&ldquo;I am just going to sew until I can&rsquo;t sew anymore,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She never expects to retire, but Halijian doesn&rsquo;t regret taking out the loan.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d do it again,&quot; she said. &quot;If she needed college I would have walked through fire for her.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Explore PLUS loans in Illinois</strong><br />(Data via <a href="http://chronicle.com/article/The-Parent-Plus-Trap/134844">Chronicle for Higher Education</a>)</p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script><div class="tableauPlaceholder" style="width:654px; height:489px;"><span id="cke_bm_406E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_405E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_404E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><noscript><a href="#"><img alt="Dashboard 1 " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;Pa&#47;ParenteducationdebtIllinois&#47;Dashboard1&#47;1_rss.png" style="border: none" /></a></noscript><object class="tableauViz" height="489" style="display:none;" width="620"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F" /><param name="site_root" value="" /><param name="name" value="ParenteducationdebtIllinois/Dashboard1" /><param name="tabs" value="no" /><param name="toolbar" value="yes" /><param name="static_image" value="http://public.tableausoftware.com/static/images/Pa/ParenteducationdebtIllinois/Dashboard1/1.png" /><param name="animate_transition" value="yes" /><param name="display_static_image" value="yes" /><param name="display_spinner" value="yes" /><param name="display_overlay" value="yes" /><param name="display_count" value="yes" /></object></div><div style="width:620px;height:22px;padding:0px 10px 0px 0px;color:black;font:normal 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float:right; padding-right:8px;"><a href="http://www.tableausoftware.com/public?ref=http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/ParenteducationdebtIllinois/Dashboard1" target="_blank">Powered by Tableau</a></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 15:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-put-retirement-pay-kids-college-106079 MOOCs? Distance learning? Technology's impact on higher education http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/moocs-distance-learning-technologys-impact-higher-education-104022 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_ap667092808394.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Peter Struck, Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania records a lecture (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)" /></div><p>This past summer I traveled to South Africa to lecture at a number of private and state universities. South Africa has 23 institutions of higher education, which offer a full range of majors and curricula. And while these schools offer their students a traditional classroom experience, each of these institutions also offers its students some distance learning options. Depending on college and the major requirements, a student is able to take all, a large portion or at least some of their core classes online.</p><p>The various methods of distance learning include the old fashioned &ldquo;snail mail&rdquo; correspondence school method: Students do a series of written assignments and mail them to an instructor, who corrects and grades them. There are also telecast lectures, interactive broadcasts that allow students to interrupt a lecture to ask a question or request more detailed information. Finally, there are computer-based classes that offer either one-to-one experiences or MOOCs &mdash;&nbsp;massive open online courses &mdash; that operate on a virtual classroom and chat room model.</p><p>South African schools have invested so heavily in distance-learning methods for both practical and pedagogic reasons. South Africa needs to educate its growing population in order to maintain its relatively new status as a democratic nation. Distance learning reaches more potential students at a much more affordable price.</p><p>In American education, cost is nearing a tipping point. Post 9/11, nearly all universities have dramatically increased their tuition and most state schools have experienced a significant diminishment of government support; some state schools have been forced to more than double tuition since 2001. Both parents and students are looking for ways to diminish the overall cost of a university education.</p><p>One plan widely discussed in the halls of academia is to reduce the on campus university experience from four to three years without radically changing the course load &mdash; students would be in residence for three years and be charged three years of tuition. While in residence, besides taking face-to-face classes, they would also fit in one year of virtual classes at their convenience at no extra charge. These virtual classes would usually be required courses not in a student&rsquo;s major.&nbsp;The primary argument for this plan is that it gets students through school at a faster pace and at a lesser cost without sacrificing their overall learning experience.&nbsp;</p><p>I&rsquo;m not sure this curriculum&nbsp;telescoping will really work. But, like South Africa, we&rsquo;ve got to learn how to be more creative and experimental. Just as South Africa needs to educate its youth to service and maintain its democratic form of government, <em>so do we!</em></p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-11/moocs-distance-learning-technologys-impact-higher-education-104022 What's a liberal arts degree worth nowadays? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/whats-liberal-arts-degree-worth-nowadays-101179 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3682_Cap and Gown_Flickr_Sea Turtle_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Doomsayers be damned: America&rsquo;s higher-education model, and its price tag, ain&rsquo;t broke. So says Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. In a <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-adv-glassnerschapiro-education-college-20120703,0,7560066,print.story" target="_blank">recent op-ed</a> for the <em>L.A. Times</em>, Schapiro and Lewis &amp; Clark College President Barry Glassner argue that the college premium &mdash; the ratio of college earnings to high school earnings &mdash; justifies the investment in higher education. Individuals with a college degree now make almost 85 percent more over a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.</p><p>But statistics are tricky &mdash; while one economist opts to focus on the long-term returns, another is focused on the immediate future, which, for many recent college graduates, is bleak. More than 50 percent of bachelor&rsquo;s degree-holders under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed in the last year. So if and when a college graduate gets a job, he&rsquo;s likely to earn, on average, $20,000 more annually than a person with a high school diploma. But when the average student is graduating with $25,000 in student-loan debt, he or she might be a bit more focused on getting <em>a</em> paycheck, any paycheck.</p><p>This might explain why, as Ohio University economics professor <a href="http://www.ohio.edu/economics/faculty_staff/vedder.html" target="_blank">Richard Vedder</a> is quick to point out, there are 80,000 bartenders and 115,000 janitors with bachelor&rsquo;s degrees.</p><p>It&#39;s true, some majors pay more than others. <a href="http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp" target="_blank">PayScale</a> did a salary survey of the top college majors that lead to high salaries. You won&rsquo;t find liberal arts in the top 10 below &mdash; the classic course of study is about 75 down from the top of the list.</p><div><a href="http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp" style="font-weight: bold; color: #333333; font-family: Verdana,Arial,Tahoma,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 18px; text-decoration: none">Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary</a></div><table><tbody><tr><td style="vertical-align:top"><a href="http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp"><img alt="Degrees" src="http://www.payscale.com/staticdatachart.aspx?mode=Chart&amp;dataset=Pay You Back.2011&amp;title=Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary" style="border: medium none; width: 465px; height: 372px;" /></a></td><td style="vertical-align:top"><img alt="Degrees" src="http://www.payscale.com/staticdatachart.aspx?mode=Legend&amp;dataset=Pay You Back.2011" /><br /><b>Methodology</b><br />Annual pay for Bachelors graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have 2 years of experience; mid-career have 15 years. See <a href="http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/salary-report.asp">full methodology</a> for more.</td></tr></tbody></table><p>The median starting salary for a liberal arts major is just under $38,000. And the mid-career average is just over $63,000 &mdash; so is a liberal arts education worth it? President Schapiro and Professor Vedder help provide a cost-benefit analysis on <em>Afternoon Shift</em>.</p><p>So what do you think: What&rsquo;s the value of a liberal arts education? Call <strong>(312) 923-9239</strong> or join the conversation on Twitter at #AfternoonShift.</p></p> Wed, 25 Jul 2012 13:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/whats-liberal-arts-degree-worth-nowadays-101179