Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The cost of an education

I am taking almost nothing this semester, at this point in school I'm retaking classes I did badly in and, SURPRISE!, with one exception they're all being postponed till next semester.

Yay.  My plan to graduate at the end of this semester will totally go according to plan.

So I'm taking that one re-take class that is available and another one to keep me sane but the one to keep me sane I'm taking at a low intensity level meaning it counts as, and is billed as, 1/3rd of a class.  So what does it cost to take 1 and 1/3rd classes? $1,559 US.  For those unfamiliar with local conventions for writing large numbers, that's one thousand five hundred fifty nine dollars, not one dollar, 55 cents, and 9 tenths of a cent.

Depending on where you live, you may think this is not that bad, or absolutely horrific.

For example, if you live in a certain theocratic absolute dictatorship that has no problem murdering its own people when they ask for equal rights, you probably find this horrific.  Because while having your own government kill you for having the temerity to freely speak your mind may be simple a fact of life, having to pay for education is downright barbaric.  If you live there odds are you're getting a much better education than I am and getting it for free.

If you live in much of the US you probably don't think it's that bad.  I go to a fairly cheap public university and so the cost of a bare bones no-minor four year degree if you somehow manage to play class schedule tetris perfectly and never take a class you don't need to and get all of the required classes without going a single credit over the minimum credits to graduate the total cost is actually less --you heard me: LESS-- than the median annual household income.  Cheap as cheap can be.  Of course I left out that I'm not counting the cost of books in the above figure of what it takes to take one and one third classes.

I'm not really sure why I'm writing this up.


I guess it's that two things happened today that are money related and I had to get them off my whatever somehow.

One was getting the exact figure (less books, of course) for school this semester.  Like I said before, this isn't an immediate concern.  I can in fact get away with paying late.

The other was getting a phone call from credit card company.  When my bank went all, "We're not doing any more online payments this month," the result was more than being hit with fees and having the payments revoked.  It also meant that payments got rerouted to my credit card filling it to the limit (possibly passed the limit, I'm still trying to work that out), this combined with revoking the previous payment to the card left it at just about double the fucking limit.

This wouldn't be a problem except unexpected running out of oil.  If I've run the numbers right I'm going to fall 200 dollars short of being able to fix things.  So fuck.


Actually, three things happened.  But the other one was yesterday.  I found out that I'm getting $180 a month less than I could otherwise be because of something my mother said, and I have been for as long as I've had an income.  So that's kind of annoying.  It might be able to be changed, but that does nothing for what's already been not gotten and it won't be in time for next month, that much is sure.


  1. So what does it cost to take 1 and 1/3rd classes? $1,559 US.
    Depending on where you live, you may think this is not that bad, or absolutely horrific.

    Well, let's see.

    First, I'll account for cost-of-living differences through multiplying it by the Albertan* minimum wage over the Maine minimum wage. (This tends to work suspiciously well considering the frequent claims that raising the minimum wage would be helpful.)

    1559x(9.95/7.50) = 2068.27

    So the price per course would then be 2068.27/1.3333 = 1551.24, not including books.
    Price per course at Athabasca University: $777, or $663 for Albertan residents, including books**.

    So, compared to my own experience it's neither "not so bad" nor "horrific", but somewhere in-between.

    *The location of my university, which I manage to attend despite never having been within two thousand miles of campus. (The minimum wage is slightly higher in Ontario.)

    **That does mean not being able to save on money by buying used or renting. Buying books new (from them, specifically) is mandatory.

    1. That's an interesting point of comparison, thanks.

  2. I'm confused as to whether things are worse or differently bad than I understand them to be. Please keep me updated.

    1. More of: just as bad but with a new understanding of how bad that is.