The Haves and the Have-Nots

Earlier today, I stumbled across “Debt by Degrees: Which Colleges Help Poor Students Most?” at ProPublica, the independent, non-profit news organization that does investigative journalism. It was published online on September 12, 2015.


Reporters Sisi Wei and Annie Waldman analyzed reams of data released by the U.S. Department of Education to show the financial burden of college students from low-income families.


The database is cool. From it, you get a sense of which schools are educating significant numbers of low-income students, how much their families are paying, how much debt the students have at graduation, how many of those students do not repay their loans, and their median income and monthly debt payments a decade after they entered school.


But it was another number that caught my eye: average annual spending on instruction per student. I looked up schools that I have attended or taught at and schools that my children have attended.


I looked at these dollar figures and thought back to yesterday, when two young men came to my office hour at Georgia State, where I am teaching Latin this semester. We sat together in the hallway, since there wasn’t room for the three of us in my tiny cubicle. Nearby, water dripped from the ceiling into a trash can. We worked on identifying the direct object of a verb. Drip, went the water. Drip. Drip.


  • Yale University, $106,214
  • Princeton University $48,021
  • Harvard University, $47,083
  • Pomona College, $34,930
  • Emory University, $33,796
  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, $25,891
  • Colorado College $20,972
  • Agnes Scott College, $13,989
  • Oglethorpe University, $8,645
  • Georgia State University $7,273


Princeton University:


Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 5.32.50 PM


Georgia State University:


Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 5.33.16 PM


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