The Wall Street Journal reports on Masters degrees that incur massive debts but are unlikely to lead to the lucrative careers needed to pay them off. Among the worst: a film program at Columbia University that costs an average of $181k to attend whose graduates are heading into their thirties hoping to earn $30k a year.
The no-limit loans make master's degrees a gold mine for universities, which have expanded graduate-school offerings since Congress created Grad Plus in 2005. Graduate students are for the first time on track to have borrowed as much as undergraduates in the 2020-21 academic year, federal loan data show.
"There's always those 2 a.m. panic attacks where you're thinking, 'How the hell am I ever going to pay this off?' " said 29-year-old Zack Morrison, of New Jersey, who earned a Master of Fine Arts in film from Columbia in 2018 and praised the quality of the program. His graduate school loan balance now stands at nearly $300,000, including accrued interest. He has been earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year from work as a Hollywood assistant and such side gigs as commercial video production and photography.
In the discussion around this is an element of sneer at the liberal arts, of course, but the sheer ursurous greed of the educational institutions is leading to severe social costs, and something will have to give.