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Category: Education

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Ask Laz: Getting educated on student debt proposals [Video]

When you think about going to school and the big payoff, these days it's more about the massive amount of accumulated debt than about getting a job. 

How high is the cost of higher education?

This year, student debt is expected to top $1 trillion, beating out credit-card debt in America. 

KTLA viewer Chris is carrying about $100,000 in student loans herself. She asks Laz about what President Obama has been proposing to help ease the growing financial burden of higher education. He explains in the video below.



You can catch him on KTLA-TV Channel 5 weekday mornings and during the 1 p.m. newscast. 

If you have a question, write or send a video to He just might answer your question on television.


Young people think college is critical but too expensive

California leads nation in escalation of college costs

Average student-loan debt tops $25,000 for first time


-- Michelle Maltais





Consumer Confidential: Google Music, iTunes Match, no-job majors

Here's your West-End-girls Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Google has learned to sing. The searchmeister is entering the online music market with a new service that will let users store songs online and listen to tracks on multiple devices. Google has expanded into music, television and movies to bolster sales of devices running its Android mobile software. The company is also seeking rights for its Google+ social-network users to share music with each other. On the eve of the debut, Google reached an agreement with Sony’s music unit. Universal and EMI have already signed on. Songs will cost 99 cents to $1.29, though Google may offer discounts. (Bloomberg)

-- Not to be outdone, Apple has rolled out a new iTunes Match service. For $24.99, iTunes account holders can store their entire iTunes library, plus songs from their CDs, in the cloud that is the Internet. The library contents are then available to listen to on computers and iOS devices, including iPhones. The program differs from Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player because iTunes Match isn't based on uploading your music then listening to it via a Web-based player that streams your songs. Instead, it determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store, which boasts some 20 million songs. The program automatically adds these songs to iCloud. Songs that aren't in iTunes can be uploaded by the user. (Lifehacker)

-- Not all college majors are created equal -- at least when it comes to giving you a leg up in the job market. College majors with high unemployment rates include a variety of psychology degrees, fine arts and architecture, according to Census statistics. Here are the Top 10 majors (or should that be Bottom 10?) for not getting a job: Clinical psychology (19.5% unemployment rate), miscellaneous fine arts (16.2%), U.S. history (15.1%), library science (15%), military technologies (10.9%), educational psychology (10.9%), architecture (10.6%), industrial and organizational psychology (10.4%), miscellaneous psychology (10.3%), linguistics and comparative literature (10.2%). (MarketWatch)

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Google is launching a new music service to compete with Apple's iTunes. Credit: Ralph Orlowski / Getty Images


Young people think college is critical but too expensive

Students at UCLA study. Many worry about the expense of college.

Amid today's grim economy, young people think higher education is an even more critical stepping stone for their generation than it was for their parents.

But they worry that college is far less affordable than it was just five years ago. They fear taking on loads of student-loan debt. And they oppose proposals to cut federal financial aid.

Those are the findings of a survey released Wednesday by three public-policy groups -- the Institute for College Access & Success, Demos, and Young Invincibles. The groups polled 872 adults, ages 18 to 34, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 4.  The margin of error is 3.32 percentage points.

In a nod to the rancorous debate about the role of the federal government in backing student loans and funding other elements of higher education, the sponsors of the study stressed that respondents' opinions cut across racial, econonomic and -- most important -- political lines.

"Young adults across party lines are looking for leadership from Congress and sending them a message: make college more, not less, affordable," Jennifer Mishory, deputy director of Young Invincibles, said in a statement. "Protect the student aid that helps millions afford college and job training every year."

For example, "significant majorities" of Democrats, independents and Republicans are against reducing  access to federal Pell grants or charging interest on loans while students are still in school, according to the survey.

The poll found that 76% of people say college is less affordable today than five years ago and 73% believe graduates have more debt than they can handle. And even though it could reduce the federal deficit, 3 of every 4 respondents do not want Pell grants to be cut.

“This survey clearly shows how young adults view higher education today: It’s more important than ever but also less affordable and it comes with too much debt,” said Lauren Asher, president of TICAS.


California leads nation in escalation of college costs

How the University of California can remain one of the state's most valuable assets

And the top five most-expensive colleges in America are ...

‎-- Walter Hamilton

Photo: Students study at UCLA. Credit: Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times

Average student-loan debt tops $25,000 for first time

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You don't have to be a math major to understand this statistic: The average student-loan debt of last year's college graduates tops $25,000 -- the first time it's ever exceeded that ignominious mark.

Seniors who graduated in 2010 had an average student-loan burden of $25,250, up 5.2% from the $24,000 owed by the class of 2009, according to a report by the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success in Oakland.

Some experts had expected a bigger increase in debt given the gloomy economy, but increased financial aid at some schools partially offset the hit for low-income students and those at pricier colleges.

Still, the increased debt load is another negative for college graduates who already were facing a punishing job market. The unemployment rate for college graduates ages 20 to 24 rose to 9.1% last year, up from 8.7% in 2009 and the highest annual rate on record, according to the nonprofit research organization.

The report is based on data reported voluntarily by more than 1,000 public and private nonprofit four-year colleges. It did not include so-called for-profit colleges.

In California, the average debt load last year was $18,113, with 48% of graduating seniors owing money, according to the study.

Students and their families (who, after all, will be footing many of the college bills) can get data on average student-loan rates for many schools on the group's website in the link above.


California's 529 college-saving plan to gain options under TIAA-CREF

California's 529 college savings plan to be revamped

Contributions to college-savings 529 plans are rising sharply after falling during recession

-- Walter Hamilton

Photo credit: University of Chicago


Consumer Confidential: Credit cards, college costs, travel prices

Here's your walking-on-sunshine Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Your credit card knows a lot about you, and our friends at Visa and MasterCard may be using that info to sell you stuff. The Wall Street Journal says the credit card companies are currently trying to work out a system whereby purchases consumers make in a brick-and-mortar store can be used to deliver more effective ads online. A MasterCard document obtained by the Journal outlines some of the company's plans, which included linking Web users with purchases. According to document, the credit card provider said it believes "you are what you buy." The Journal said that Visa is planning a similar service, which would aggregate its customers' purchase history into segments, including location, to make ads more effective at appealing to people in a respective area.

-- The cost of a college education keeps going up. Average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose an additional $631 this fall, or 8.3%, compared with a year ago, according to the College Board. Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high. Throw in room and board, and the average list price for a state school now runs more than $17,000 a year. The large increase in federal grants and tax credits for students, on top of stimulus dollars that prevented greater state cuts, helped keep the average tuition and fees that families actually pay much lower: about $2,490, or just $170 more than five years ago. But the days of states and families relying on budget relief from Washington appear numbered.

-- Also heading north: Travel prices. Higher demand and a reduced number of available seats will lead to higher airline ticket prices next year, even in a slow-growing economy, according to the American Express Global Business Travel Forecast. But prices won't jump as much as they did between 2010 and 2011, the forecast said. Business-class airfares are expected to rise the most next year. AmEx predicts prices for shorter North American flights in coach will increase by about 2% to 5%, while prices for longer economy flights will rise by 0.5% to 3.5%. In business class, rates will rise as much as 7% on shorter trips and 5% for longer ones.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: MasterCard and Visa may use your purchases to sell you stuff. Credit: Jonathan Bainbridge / Reuters


Survey ranks best and worst countries for women

In the last year, Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote and run for office, a woman took the reins at the International Monetary Fund and Brazil elected its first woman president.

The cause of women has advanced in many parts of the world, while in others, it has stalled, backtracked or remained stagnant.

Against this backdrop, a survey by Newsweek / the Daily Beast ranks the best and worst countries on "expansive rights and quality of rights" for women after grading five factors: economics, justice, education, health and politics.

Of 165 nations, the highest ranked were primarily in Europe and North America. Iceland, helmed by a woman prime minister, topped the list at No. 1, Sweden was at No. 2 and United States came in at a respectable eighth place.

Chad, a landlocked nation in central Africa, has the dubious distinction of ranking last, with the study noting that "women had almost no legal rights, and many marriages are arranged when girls are 11 or 12." All but one of the worst 20 countries are in Africa or Asia.

Curiously, according to the study, even some of the countries most inhospitable to women's rights did not do too badly in the economics front, which was judged using four factors: whether women can work in all industries, percentage of women in the labor force, women's wages as a percentage of men's and the ability of women to rise to positions of enterprise leadership.

On a scale of 100, Chad scored a 70.9, while Ethiopia, ninth from the bottom, scored 79.7. Compare that to Switzerland (at No. 6) at 82.6 and the Netherlands (No. 10) at 83.


Wal-Mart announces women-friendly initiatives

Americans still prefer male bosses, but not by much

Immigrant women share family recipes at cooking school start-up

--Shan Li

Photo: Iceland Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir arrives for the national memorial ceremony in Oslo on Aug. 21. Credit: Scanpix Norway via Reuters

Appeals court revives lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges [Updated]


An appeals court has restored a whistle-blower lawsuit that accused Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges of violating federal law by paying bonuses to recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled at the company's for-profit vocational colleges.

Federal law prohibits colleges from paying such commissions. The requirement is intended to prevent recruiters from signing up poorly qualified students who would eventually drop out and be unwilling or unable to repay federally guaranteed loans.

In 2007, former Corinthian employees Nyoka Lee and Talala Mshuja filed a whistle-blower lawsuit under the False Claims Act, accusing Corinthian Colleges of defrauding the government by paying illegal bonuses to recruiters. The lawsuit alleges that Corinthian, a public company, receives billions of dollars in federal subsidies. It accuses the company of paying recruiters bonuses of 2.5% to 10% of their salaries, based on the number of students they recruited.

Corinthian contended that its recruiter compensation program did not violate federal law. A federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed the lawsuit at Corinthian's request, concluding that even if the allegations in the lawsuit were true, they did not violate federal law.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored the lawsuit this week, concluding that the former employees' allegations, if true, would be violations of federal law. Read the opinion here.

Corinthian could not be immediately reached for comment.

[Updated at 1:40 p.m. Corinthian spokesman Kent Jenkins said in a statement that the company's compensation practices are proper. "We continue to believe that there is no basis for this case and we will contest it vigorously," he said.]

Scott Levy, the Texas lawyer representing the former employees, said he agreed with the ruling and would begin taking steps to bring the case to trial in Los Angeles. 


Want an Ivy League business degree? Helps to be an Ivy League grad

UCLA Anderson School of Management receives $25 million

In paying for college, better to be lucky than smart

-- Stuart Pfeifer

Photo: A commencement ceremony at Emory University, which is not affiliated with Corinthian. Credit: Associated Press

Want an Ivy League business degree? Helps to be an Ivy League grad

HBS When aiming for an elite MBA from the likes of Harvard and Wharton, it helps to already be Ivy League pedigreed.

The top five undergraduate colleges funneling executives-in-training into Harvard Business School’s incoming class of 2013 are Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Columbia and Harvard itself. That top-notch cadre accounts for nearly 27% of the 918 students in Harvard's new MBA class.

Poets & Quants, a website that tracks graduate business schools, analyzed the profiles of 638 students on the Facebook page set up for the 2013 Harvard class. More than 9% of those incoming MBA students received their undergraduate degrees from -- wait for it -- Harvard.

Among Wharton’s 2013 MBA class, more students are graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, of which Wharton is a part, than any other school. One in three new MBA students at Wharton were Ivy League undergrads.

Excluding foreign schools such as the Indian institute of Technology and Oxford University, the eight Ivy League colleges educated 38% of Harvard’s business school class and 44% of Wharton’s.

Fewer than 20% of Harvard and Wharton MBA students received degrees from public schools such as UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan. Some schools though, such as West Point, the University of Florida and Georgetown, figured prominently.


Buying a business school

Competing to be 'Entrepreneur Idol'

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: The Harvard Business School Baker Library. Credit: Kelvin Ma / Bloomberg

TIAA-CREF chosen as new manager of California's 529 college-savings plan

TIAA-CREF, an investment firm specializing in the education industry, will be the new manager of California's 529 college-savings plan.

The state board that oversees the 529 plan voted to hire the firm in a meeting Monday. It was selected over Nebraska-based Union Bank & Trust Co.

TIAA-CREF will replace Fidelity Investments, which did not bid to continue running the $4.4-billion plan. Its contract expires in November.

The revamped savings program will include a new slate of investment options with average fees lower than the current plan. The annual cost of the age-based index-fund portfolios average 0.23%. The average cost of the actively managed equivalents is 0.58%.

In a key difference, the new plan will include offerings from four mutual-fund firms, including three outside companies. In addition to TIAA-CREF funds, there also will be offerings from T. Rowe Price, Pimco and Dimensional Fund Advisors. Fidelity offers only its own funds in the current plan.

A 529 plan is a state-sponsored program in which college savers invest in a variety of options, including stock, bond and money-market mutual funds. Gains are not subject to federal taxes or, in many cases, state taxes, as long as the money is used for specific college expenses, such as room and board.

-- Walter Hamilton


Contributions to 529 plans surge after sinking in the recession

Consumer Confidential: College too pricey, more will fly, Mickey D's going high tech

Gradpic Here's your pass-the-Mylanta Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

• Is a college education worth the expense? Not at these prices. A majority of Americans say college is unaffordable and not worth its skyrocketing price tag. But graduates say the investment does pay off. College grads say they are happier and more satisfied with their jobs, with 86% saying college was a good investment, according to data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. A college degree translates into $20,000 more in earnings per year and remains the goal nearly all parents set for their children, the report says. Yet despite the potential monetary gains, 75% of Americans feel college is unaffordable for most people and 57% say it's not a good value. College grads leave school with roughly $23,000 in student debt after paying tuition that has roughly tripled since the 1980s, according to Pew.

• Speaking of things that are pricey and increasingly not worth the hassle, you can expect air travel to be a little more crowded this summer. The Air Transport Assn. says it expects 206 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines in June, July and August, a 1.5% increase over the same months in 2010. If the forecast is right, travel will still remain below pre-recession levels. In 2007, U.S. airlines carried a record 217 million summer travelers. Major airlines have increased fares seven times since the start of the year as fuel prices rose.

• Ronald McDonald, meet George Jetson. Mickey D's is going high-tech by replacing cashiers with touch screens. McDonald's says it will make the move at its 7,000 fast-food restaurants in Europe. The change is part of the chain’s efforts to woo cash-strapped customers by making its restaurants more convenient and convivial. It's refurbishing stores, and introducing longer hours of operation and new menus. The company says that by automating the order process, it will make life easier for consumers as well as improve efficiency, with average transactions three to four seconds shorter for each customer. McDonald’s European stores serve 2 million customers a day. You can be sure if the touch screens catch on overseas, we'll get a taste of Robo Ronald in the United States before too long.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Is a sheepskin worth it? Maybe not at these prices. Credit: Mike Keefe / Denver Post / Cagle Cartoons

UCLA Anderson School of Management receives $25 million

The UCLA Anderson School of Management will receive a $25-million gift from alumnus John Anderson, a Los Angeles entrepreneur, and his wife, Marion -- the largest donation in the business school's history.

The school already bears Anderson's name after a 1987 donation from him of $15 million, then the largest gift by an individual to that institution. Over more than two decades, the Andersons have donated almost $42 million to the school.

"This remarkable gift will enable us to chart the future by investing in a broad range of strategic initiatives, including research that advances management thinking and practice, curriculum initiatives that prepare our students to become global leaders, and student support that attracts the most talented candidates from around the world," UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian said in a statement.

Anderson graduated with a bachelor's degree from UCLA in 1940. He later earned a MBA from Harvard University and a law degree from Loyola University in Los Angeles.

He co-founded a law firm with another UCLA alumnus that has since closed its doors, and in 1956 he started Ace Beverage with exclusive rights to distribute Budweiser in Los Angeles. He is the longtime owner of Topa Equities, a privately held company based in Los Angeles with dealings that include real estate and beer distribution.

Anderson was ranked No. 189 in Forbes Magazine's 2006 list of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of more than $1.9 billion.

"I was very lucky to come to UCLA on a scholarship, and I've never forgotten that," Anderson said in the statement. "The lessons and values I learned while attending UCLA shaped my thinking ... and helped build my business reputation."

The Andersons' previous donations have established two professorships in their name and helped fund a building for the graduate business school.


Chinese businessman donates $10 million to UC Riverside

In paying for college, better to be lucky than smart

Harbor City truck maker announces deal to export green drive systems to China

-- Shan Li


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