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American Colleges Are Over $205 Billion in Debt, Harvard is $6 Billion in Debt

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On December 21, 2012 @ 6:51 pm In The Point | 12 Comments

The Student Loan Bubble is bad, but interestingly enough, as this New York Times article points out, the loan problem extends all the way up the ladder to the institutions of higher education who never seem to have enough money.

Remember that our financial experts come out of a system that is this deep underwater and they have a heavy investment is bailing it out.

Overall debt levels more than doubled from 2000 to 2011 at the more than 500 institutions rated by Moody’s, according to inflation-adjusted data compiled for The New York Times by the credit rating agency. In the same time, the amount of cash, pledged gifts and investments that colleges maintain declined more than 40 percent relative to the amount they owe.

While Harvard is the wealthiest university in the country, it also has $6 billion in debt, the most of any private college, the data compiled by Moody’s shows.

At the Juilliard School, which completed a major renovation a few years ago, debt climbed to $195 million last year, from $6 million in inflation-adjusted dollars in 2002. At Miami University, a public institution in Ohio that is overhauling its dormitories and student union, debt rose to $326 million in 2011, from $66 million in 2002, and at New York University, which has embarked on an ambitious expansion, debt was $2.8 billion in 2011, up from $1.2 billion in 2002, according to the Moody’s data.

The pile of debt — $205 billion outstanding in 2011 at the colleges rated by Moody’s — comes at a time of increasing uncertainty in academia. After years of robust growth, enrollment is flat or declining at many institutions, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. With outstanding student debt exceeding $1 trillion, students and their parents are questioning the cost and value of college. And online courses threaten to upend the traditional collegiate experience and payment model.

Student debt turns out to be only 5 times as high as the accumulated college debt, and that’s only at the colleges rated at Moody’s. What would happen if we added up the entire pile of debt for all institutions of higher education in the country? Somehow I think we would arrive at some very scary numbers.

The system is broken and spending its way deeper into debt. Tuition costs have risen dramatically and hardly made a dent in the tremendous piles of debt accumulated over the last decade.

It would seem as if Academia’s brokenness amplifies the brokenness of its graduates. It acts as a predictor for the entire broken system. Academia is a deadbeat metaphor turning out deadbeat students in a deadbeat nation.

Harvard borrowed $1.5 billion to pay its bills rather than selling off assets at a sharp discount. Its interest expense more than doubled from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2011, to nearly $300 million.

“The financial crisis has acted like a tidal wave that, as it receded, exposed certain vulnerabilities with a new clarity,” Harvard officials said in the November annual report.

That’s a fancy way of saying, “We’re morons.”


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