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I will start school next month as a freshman. My financial aid package comes from the federal government, the state government, and the Army. I'm conflicted with the morality of accepting government aid, and I would prefer to only use private loans, but the current market just isn't set up for this kind of loan shopping. Every single student who attends university will use some form of government-subsidized financial aid (unless the student attends a private university and pays all tuition and fees personally).

Is it moral to accept government-subsidized financial aid as a student? It seems literally impossible to pay for school without it, since students are *expected* to either pay for everything out of their pockets or accept government aid. I don't want to have to accept government aid, but it seems like the only available option whether I had more money or not.

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Check out what Rand had to say. The money was and will be taken from you and your family forcibly, so you do nothing wrong by taking part of it back. Nor are you responsible for the distorted state of the loan market. Stop worrying, take the money and get to work on your studies. I wish you every success.

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I will start school next month as a freshman. My financial aid package comes from the federal government, the state government, and the Army. I'm conflicted with the morality of accepting government aid, and I would prefer to only use private loans, but the current market just isn't set up for this kind of loan shopping. Every single student who attends university will use some form of government-subsidized financial aid (unless the student attends a private university and pays all tuition and fees personally).

Is it moral to accept government-subsidized financial aid as a student? It seems literally impossible to pay for school without it, since students are *expected* to either pay for everything out of their pockets or accept government aid. I don't want to have to accept government aid, but it seems like the only available option whether I had more money or not.

Your mom and dad are already paying for that loan though the taxes they pay to the government. Take the money and run with it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I am biased of course, but the previous posters are correct. My parents bore the main costs of my university years but I took out student loans as a matter of course and eventually repaid them.(I am still kicking myself that I did not know I could have got scholarships easily to cover my studies, but too old a story) I worked throughut my university years to supplement and that was good for me.

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Obviously, when the government reaches into every area of human life, avoiding government benefits is quite tricky.

I am familiar with Rand's answer to the question of student aid. But if the premise is that the recipient of aid has already paid or will someday be paying for those goodies through taxes, is there then any form of government aid one should not accept?

What about free day care, Head Start, housing vouchers, weatherization subsidies, heating bill subsidies, cell phone subsidies, free legal advice, or food assistance?

Wouldn't all government benefits be fair game if one has paid taxes?

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The schools assume that you will receive federal assistance and have priced that into their business model. Federal aid - especially the widespread availability of federal Stafford loans - is the central reason why the cost of higher education has tripled over the past two decades. If you don't accept federal assistance, you are effectively subsidizing others by paying double for your own education. It's too bad that you have to get your own tax money (or your parents') back through the redistribution process, but you didn't create or endorse the system into which you were born. At least your use of the money for school is honest and productive, unlike all the "disabled" SSI/SSDI/welfare cheats and do-nothing public employees who surf eBay all day. I don't see anything wrong with using it.

Obviously, when the government reaches into every area of human life, avoiding government benefits is quite tricky.

I am familiar with Rand's answer to the question of student aid. But if the premise is that the recipient of aid has already paid or will someday be paying for those goodies through taxes, is there then any form of government aid one should not accept?

What about free day care, Head Start, housing vouchers, weatherization subsidies, heating bill subsidies, cell phone subsidies, free legal advice, or food assistance?

Wouldn't all government benefits be fair game if one has paid taxes?

There are plenty of government benefits that are fundamentally dishonest or promote unproductive behavior. For example, if someone is mentally competent, they should be ashamed to accept SSI/SSDI or a disability pension even if they are fully eligible for it under the lax requirements. In the 21st century, being able to use a computer means being able to work. There is an important cultural taboo that has been lost there over the past half-century. Public and military employees who do little productive work during the day should be similarly ashamed to collect their salaries and benefits, although I realize many of them are powerless to do much about it.

Student aid falls into a separate category because it, at least in theory, involves doing something productive and bettering oneself for reentering the workforce. It's also been priced into the higher education model (resulting in skyrocketing tuition in a vicious feedback loop), so anyone who doesn't utilize the assistance is essentially being penalized and paying twice.

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I am continually amazed how close the Objectivist mindset is to the many previous religious or pagan dicta which they disdain`He who does not work should not eat!

No, it's he who does not work shall not eat me.

--Brant

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I will start school next month as a freshman. My financial aid package comes from the federal government, the state government, and the Army. I'm conflicted with the morality of accepting government aid, and I would prefer to only use private loans, but the current market just isn't set up for this kind of loan shopping. Every single student who attends university will use some form of government-subsidized financial aid (unless the student attends a private university and pays all tuition and fees personally).

Is it moral to accept government-subsidized financial aid as a student? It seems literally impossible to pay for school without it, since students are *expected* to either pay for everything out of their pockets or accept government aid. I don't want to have to accept government aid, but it seems like the only available option whether I had more money or not.

What are you going to study and why do you want to study it?

--Brant

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There are plenty of government benefits that are fundamentally dishonest or promote unproductive behavior. For example, if someone is mentally competent, they should be ashamed to accept SSI/SSDI or a disability pension even if they are fully eligible for it under the lax requirements. In the 21st century, being able to use a computer means being able to work. There is an important cultural taboo that has been lost there over the past half-century. Public and military employees who do little productive work during the day should be similarly ashamed to collect their salaries and benefits, although I realize many of them are powerless to do much about it.

Student aid falls into a separate category because it, at least in theory, involves doing something productive and bettering oneself for reentering the workforce. It's also been priced into the higher education model (resulting in skyrocketing tuition in a vicious feedback loop), so anyone who doesn't utilize the assistance is essentially being penalized and paying twice.

Thanks for your comments. I agree completely.

I just want to point out that your thoughts on the subject vary somewhat from Rand's. In her 1966 essay, she wrote,

"The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it . . . ."

I take this to mean that anyone who has in the past been looted by the government may help himself to any portion of the government's treasury whenever the opportunity arises. I take the words "whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution" to mean "take anything that's up for grabs."

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There are plenty of government benefits that are fundamentally dishonest or promote unproductive behavior. For example, if someone is mentally competent, they should be ashamed to accept SSI/SSDI or a disability pension even if they are fully eligible for it under the lax requirements. In the 21st century, being able to use a computer means being able to work. There is an important cultural taboo that has been lost there over the past half-century. Public and military employees who do little productive work during the day should be similarly ashamed to collect their salaries and benefits, although I realize many of them are powerless to do much about it.

Student aid falls into a separate category because it, at least in theory, involves doing something productive and bettering oneself for reentering the workforce. It's also been priced into the higher education model (resulting in skyrocketing tuition in a vicious feedback loop), so anyone who doesn't utilize the assistance is essentially being penalized and paying twice.

Thanks for your comments. I agree completely.

I just want to point out that your thoughts on the subject vary somewhat from Rand's. In her 1966 essay, she wrote,

"The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it . . . ."

I take this to mean that anyone who has in the past been looted by the government may help himself to any portion of the government's treasury whenever the opportunity arises. I take the words "whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution" to mean "take anything that's up for grabs."

The assumption is your money is still in the government treasury and that's what you're getting back.

--Brant

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Aaron (Gohrek),

My advice is to get an education right now and use whatever is available to get it.

Then, once you move out into the world, fight for a way to make it so that your children will not have to face the same choice you had to make.

If you don't get your education, you will have to face that fight later at a serious disadvantage.

It's worth the feelings of discomfort you are going through right now. Seeing as how you are going against a massive machine of gobs of money and college educated bureaucrats, there is no way a gesture of going on strike as a freshman (or something similar) is going to make any difference to the world.

If you want to beat them and change the world for the better, I say prepare yourself now and worry about the battles later when you are fully armed. You can't be held responsible for the poor choices you have in front of you. But it's on you what you do with them.

Michael

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The victory is all the sweeter if you beat the bastards at their own game.

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Aaron,

I should add that if you have an independent entrepreneurial streak in you, just forget about college. Become an apprentice somewhere in the field you want to work in and move in the direction of opening your own business.

You don't need a degree for running your own business.

Also, if you have the spirit and drive to keep learning all the time on you own, you can get a college-level education for free right here on the Internet. And learn it at your own pace. And Amazon sells a ton of great books aimed at learning things along with systems for using the knowledge.

If you're in doubt, though, I still say get your education.

Michael

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The traditional advice those entering higher education received was "go to the best school you can" and take out whatever loans necessary to do so. More appropriate advice in the post-2007 economy is to go to the best school you can with the least amount of debt required. If the choice is between going to a local no-name school for free, going to a school with some name-recognition for half tuition, or going to Brand Name school for full tuition, paying full tuition shouldn't even be on the table unless your family is extremely wealthy and can pay your way in full. Take my word for it that there are plenty of unemployed Harvard/Columbia/Stanford grads out there along with everyone else, and coming out of school with debt sucks - hard.

My other advice is: don't go to law school or medical school, unless you can attend for free through scholarships and financial aid. Joining the military for a few years to get veterans preference and the GI Bill remains a good option. They don't need you, and it's not fair to everyone else, but it's play or be played in this economy and political environment.

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I'm in agreement with MSK and RB and others who have already posted but want to add that your repayment intentions are noteworthy. Everyone is assuming that you intend to repay the loans, and hopefully that is true. If it is not, however, and you don't intend to repay the loans, then absolutely it would be amoral to accept them. Of course, that is true of any kind of loan. I only bring it up because there are so many people out there who think defaulting on government loans is a victimless crime.

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I'm in agreement with MSK and RB and others who have already posted but want to add that your repayment intentions are noteworthy. Everyone is assuming that you intend to repay the loans, and hopefully that is true. If it is not, however, and you don't intend to repay the loans, then absolutely it would be amoral to accept them. Of course, that is true of any kind of loan. I only bring it up because there are so many people out there who think defaulting on government loans is a victimless crime.

If the government forecloses on their sorry asses it won't be so victim-less

Ba'al Chatzaf

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The traditional advice those entering higher education received was "go to the best school you can" and take out whatever loans necessary to do so. More appropriate advice in the post-2007 economy is to go to the best school you can with the least amount of debt required. If the choice is between going to a local no-name school for free, going to a school with some name-recognition for half tuition, or going to Brand Name school for full tuition, paying full tuition shouldn't even be on the table unless your family is extremely wealthy and can pay your way in full. Take my word for it that there are plenty of unemployed Harvard/Columbia/Stanford grads out there along with everyone else, and coming out of school with debt sucks - hard.

My other advice is: don't go to law school or medical school, unless you can attend for free through scholarships and financial aid. Joining the military for a few years to get veterans preference and the GI Bill remains a good option. They don't need you, and it's not fair to everyone else, but it's play or be played in this economy and political environment.

Overall, very good advice here. The old advice about going to the best school and worrying about debt later is indeed moot.

And let me add that you have proven me wrong by continuing to stick around here after 30 days. Given the general quality of your posts, I am glad to have been proven wrong.

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And let me add that you have proven me wrong by continuing to stick around here after 30 days. Given the general quality of your posts, I am glad to have been proven wrong.

Thank you. This is a fine forum, and I enjoy reading posts by the members here. Lots of good insights to be found.

I'm somewhat disappointed that my two comrades have stopped posting, although in Kacy's case, he has a pattern of taking his bat and going home in a huff, and in Serapis Bey's case, I think the moderation of his posts was warranted (and probably expected by him). As for me, I'll keep posting as long as the forum continues to hold my interest.

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This is a very illuminating discussion and I now realize how relatively cheaply I got my education.

A friend's son lives in San Diego and has two daughters in college. He and his wife are pretty much impoverishing themselves to support them there. The kicker is, the girls don't work part-time to share the burden. I admire the scruples of the OP.

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My parents made me get summer jobs all through high school and college, but my wages were so low that I think it was more to learn some humility and respect for a hard day's work. A "do well in school or else" type lesson through experience. I will say that my family and I never ate so well as I did when I made sandwiches for Quiznos. The perks of fast food employment aren't typically included in off-the-cuff minimum/living wage calculations.

After scholarships, I was able to finish college and law school with around $80k in debt. The amount sounds astronomical (and it is), but anyone familiar with the state of higher education will recognize that I got off comparatively lightly. I understand that average student debt for someone graduating medical school is now north of $200k, and there are lots of doctors quietly filing for bankruptcy as we speak. With the full force of Obamacare coming down the road, and Medicare/Medicaid eating up a larger and larger percentage of the field, the future of that profession is even more dubious.

I think the smartest course today - assuming you aren't academically in the 1% of the 1% of the 1% who can attend a T14 law school or medical school free of charge - is to figure out where you want to live first, then attend a school with local name recognition on free tuition and milk its alumni network in the area.

Engineering remains a safe major for those who can stand the monotony and degrading nature of the work. My experience interning at a living Dilbert cubicle farm was enough to turn me off that path forever.

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Engineering remains a safe major for those who can stand the monotony and degrading nature of the work. My experience interning at a living Dilbert cubicle farm was enough to turn me off that path forever.

The upside is that, if you're good, after a few years in the cubicle farm, you may graduate to having your own office. :cool:

So, there are two questions: (1) Is it ethical to take a loan? And (2) is it wise to take a loan?

With respect to question (1), I would agree with the previous comments that it is ethical so long as you don't support the system --- and better yet, if you actively work to end it. That was Rand's response as well when confronted with the morality of taking Social Security.

With respect to question (2), it is a trade-off between the cost of tuition and the value of your degree. The question is, what is the best value proposition? How do you get the most bang for the buck?

Are you going into business? If you are, an Ivy League school might be worth the cost because you want to rub elbows with the movers and shakers on Wall Street or in business (or their children). Do you want to be an engineer? While it helps to attend some place like MIT, Stanford or CalTech, there are a lot of solid state schools you could attend for less money and you should definitely look in state. Do you want to attend medical school? Again, most major universities have fine, solid pre-med programs. But, if yours doesn't, or if you get into some place like Johns Hopkins, it might be worthwhile to pay more.

Since you've already chosen a school, the second point might be moot, but sometimes changing course midway through makes sense, especially if you didn't think things through in the beginning. On the other hand, you may have made a solid choice, in which case you should stick with it, take the loans, and concentrate on getting good grades (rather than getting side-tracked).

Darrell

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Engineering remains a safe major for those who can stand the monotony and degrading nature of the work. My experience interning at a living Dilbert cubicle farm was enough to turn me off that path forever.

"Engineers remain broadly happy with their careers, with more than 85% reporting being somewhat or very satisfied with their jobs according to responses to EE-Evaluation Engineering’s 2013 salary survey."

Perhaps you simply don't have an aptitude for engineering (applied physics). John Galt was an engineer.

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I just came across a cool saying.

Don't let school stand in the way of your education.

I wish this was mine, but it ain't.

I think it's been around awhile.

But it's, oh, so true...

I know I have learned more on my own than I ever did in school. And I'm still plowing through books and courses as they interest me and/or are relevant to what I want to do.

Michael

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Engineering remains a safe major for those who can stand the monotony and degrading nature of the work. My experience interning at a living Dilbert cubicle farm was enough to turn me off that path forever.

"Engineers remain broadly happy with their careers, with more than 85% reporting being somewhat or very satisfied with their jobs according to responses to EE-Evaluation Engineering’s 2013 salary survey."

Perhaps you simply don't have an aptitude for engineering (applied physics). John Galt was an engineer.

Mikee - Besides the obvious selection bias inherent in a returned survey from those who subscribe to an engineering publication (the few law school grads who bother to return my alma mater's surveys are doing AWESOME btw), it had little to do with aptitude and a lot more to do with temperament. Many tech nerds are quite happy with their office life analyzing a SEM analysis of Part 47-B-2 of whatever plane or vehicle from the confides of their alotted cubicle space. I'm glad such people are out there, but I like human contact and persuasive writing, and it simply wasn't for me.

I went into engineering with an individualist John-Galt-type creativity in mind. By the end of college, I had learned that there is actually very little creativity left in the field, with most work being incremental improvements and data analysis as part of a much larger team. I'm not a big fan of "set" career paths working for corporate megafirms, so I switched gears a bit and I've been very glad that I did.

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