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Why are federal student loans offered to non-STEM degree seekers?


@ Prof. Yet it would be madness to deny that some degrees and areas of expertise (like applied quantum mechanics) produce things for society that are far more valuable (semiconductors, etc.) than women studies degrees. Why then is the prospective semiconductor engineer and women studies major given the same amount of federal funding? Why is the women studies major given anything at all?

Update 2:

@ Jamie Since when has it become necessary for artists, musicians, actors, and the like to go to college to study what they want?

Update 3:

@ Jamie Private loans will cover most of the rest. It's possible that if most federal student loans were eliminated, this would cause tuition to drop, making tuition cheap enough for many people to out-of-pocket. Thus, many prospective liberal arts grads could pay for the degrees out-of-pocket.

Update 4:

@ Jamie You don't need an English or writing degree to be able to write a textbook on STEM. Don't you think STEM graduates are probably intelligent enough and knowledgeable enough to write their own books? People can still go to college and major in whatever they want, it's just that they wont get federal funding for most of it. Maybe education deserves federal funding.

Update 5:

Possibly law deserves federal funding as well. Arts, music, political science, business, and the like, are probably not worth federal funding. All of that can be privatized or paid for out-of-pocket. You don't need a college degree to be an artist, actor, writer, graphic designer, and the like.

4 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Because there is more to life than science and technology. The world could not function on those jobs alone and it's not the federal government's job to discriminate between the highly subjective realm of "valuable" and "worthless" degrees.

    Go move to the USSR 40 years ago if you want to government dictating what people should do with their lives.


    Here's a question for you: Imagine a world where student loans were only given to STEM degrees and therefore people did not go to college for anything else. Who would teach the STEM majors in elementary and high school without degrees in education? How would textbooks be written or published for these STEM majors without degrees in writing/editing/English? Who would convert technology into something usable without degrees offered in business, design, or marketing? How would science degrees really contribute to society without degrees in medicine, economics, design, or international relations? How does a degree in math contribute anything to society regardless? How would civil engineering ever have a project come to completion without degrees in architecture, city planning, or business administration? How would the government function without degrees in law, political science, or public administration? How would the world be understood and changed without degrees in history, philosophy, sociology, or social justice? What the heck would all these STEM majors do with their free time if people are no longer pursuing training/degrees in the arts?


    Response # 2: A STEM major might be able to write the textbook, but they wouldn't know sh*t about copy editing, formatting, designing, publishing, distributing, or marketing it. Same with converting inventions and discoveries into something actually useful to the general public.

    It became necessary for artists, writers, and performers to go to college when apprenticeships became extinct, the field became more competitive, and "lucky breaks" stopped happening. College provides concentrated training in a variety of areas that it is hard to get elsewhere (except conservatories, which are also funded through federal loans). It also provides resources, grants, mentors, networking opportunities, performance/exhibition/collaboration opportunities, and the ability to reach a large and diverse audience that are nearly impossible to find on your own. Go look up the top 20 contemporary artists of today and see how many of them achieved that without any degree whatsoever. Same with film or theatre directors. Same with bestselling novelists. It might have been possible to achieve that kind of expertise and renown on your own 50-100 years ago, but it's not really possible anymore. Acting and some music performance might be the only two left that are still based on raw talent and lucky breaks (and increasingly, good looks), but most people still go to college for it for reasons mentioned above. In fact, the people who probably SHOULDN'T go to college are talented STEM guys like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerburg, who found more success with raw talent, persistence, and an entrepreneurial spirit than with a degree.

    If federal student loans were eliminated, tuition might drop a bit, but probably not to a point that would be affordable out-of-pocket for most low or middle class incomes. So basically the 99% would go into "bankable" careers and oversaturate the market leading to high unemployment in fields that were historically considered stable, while the rich could pursue "the life of the mind": arts, academia, social sciences, etc and basically become the only authors and contributors to culture (arts, writing, philosophy), thus making our cultural expression the sole domain of the elite and privileged. That would be a sorry world indeed. If college was made actually affordable to all without federal subsidizing, the quality of US colleges would suffer the same fate as public high schools- huge classes, underpaid teachers, test-based assessments, cutting programs/grants/research opportunities, etc, and again the rich would benefit, the poor would become wagehorses and the income disparity that is already a huge problem would only grow. (If you want to create your own heterocosmic dystopia, I can create mine.)

    Splitting hairs over "worthy" and "unworthy" degrees is both stupid and short-sighted.

  • MM
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Okay. So go read up on the actual regulations governing federal funding, figure out what it would take to make the limitations you're proposing and what the concrete benefits would be, and then make your case to Congress. Better yet, run for office yourself and make your case the case to the people.

    Oh, wait. You'd need non-STEM skills like law and political science and economics and business and writing to pull that off successfully, wouldn't you?

  • 8 years ago

    Because the government has not made it a priority to declase some majors more or less valuable than others. And most politicians do NOT have a STEM degree.

  • 8 years ago

    I do not recall any language in the enabling legislation or appropriations for the USDOE [Dept of Ed] that authorizes them to differentiate between majors on a subjective measurement of "worth" or "sensibility".

    Quantum Physics and Womyns Studies would be judged as equal.

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