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The Back Forty: College education is worth the price
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

A recent study of college costs proves once again that some folks have a strange set of values. An Associated Press story says the Lumina Foundation for Education reports that college is too expensive for many low and median-income students.

The Foundationís survey of 3,000 colleges and universities shows many students will have to borrow money if they want to attend college.

Duh? What a bummer! I hope this doesnít affect the type of car these kids have to drive.

I remember a similar survey of college seniors a few years back. Many of those students had outstanding loans for their education. Several said, ďThis is horrible! I planned to travel around Europe for a year or two, but now Iíll have to get a job to pay off my loans!Ē

Welcome to the real world, Sweetie. Lots of folks have to get jobs.

Why would kids who borrow money for cars, televisions, and vacations object to taking out loans for school? It wasnít that long ago when borrowing money for college was quite a privilege.

I remember heading off to Ohio State University in the early 60ís when tuition was $100 per quarter. That seems cheap by todayís standards, but it wasnít in those days.

My Alma Mater wasnít the most expensive college in the world, but a reputable university nonetheless. Ohio State graduates have gone on to become everything from bums to brain surgeons. Iím almost sure I didnít learn everything the university had to offer.

I felt lost on the huge campus, but I looked around and noticed everyone else was lost, too. You could see it in their eyes, as they stumbled about - bumping into ginkgo trees and bearded guys in turtleneck sweaters.

I might have gone to Dartmouth or Brown if I had known where those places were, but I just wasnít the liberal arts type. Besides, I had no idea what kind of squirrel hunting they had in New England.

So my old buddy Doug and I chose Ohio State. We planned to get an apartment and live high on the hog for a few years, or however long it takes to go to college.

Thatís when we learned how many hogs it takes to pay the rent on one of those apartments - and how many pigs had apparently lived there before us. Then, Doug got cold feet and chickened out. I went, though, squeaking by on scholarships and government loans.

College students loved to borrow money in the 1960s. The generation before us had to work their way through college.

Government loans meant students of modest means could attend school full-time if they wanted to.

I know some of the doctors, lawyers, and veterinarians had much higher loans to pay off than I did; and I sympathize with them. But those were smart people, and Iíll bet you anything they found a way to get it back.

I donít think Iíll ever feel sorry for folks who borrow for their education. Thatís some of the best money theyíll ever get to spend.

This farm news was published in the March 22, 2006 issue of Farm World.

3/22/2006