• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 8 comments on BU Economist on College Rankings, Student Loans, and “Shacking Up” with Mom

  1. So essentially he is advising students to blow off a school like BU unless they get a full ride scholarship and opt for a much cheaper state school instead. Okay.

    For the record, BU does indeed cost big bucks, even with financial aid.

  2. I was confused (but intrigued) by the comment on stocks and long-term risk. Is Kotlikoff saying we should be seeking out alternative investments to stocks? Does that include mutual funds? My thinking is mutual funds are the best bet because even though there is a risk of crashing over 20 years, the market always rebounds.

    1. He’s saying to leave money in stocks as you age, because the odds of losing it all are low. FYI, mutual funds (imo) are another terrible invention of finance; their fees are high and returns are not worth it. Stick to index funds. Then Kotlikoff’s advice is spot on, as you will (very likely) not lose all your money that way, while individual stocks may. Cheers!

      1. I think his wording is poor (or perhaps it was transcribed incorrectly). His message makes it sound as though investing in the stock market over 20 years has a high probability of losing all your money. This is the opposite of truth. However, I do believe he is trying to say not to invest in specific company stocks and instead in things like index funds, as you suggested. I just don’t like the wording of the article because it makes it seem like fixed assets are better over the long term.

        Unfortunately, as a business major from SMG (Questrom?), and I assume you could attest as an Econ major as well, I was never taught investment strategies like this (despite my $45k a year tuition) and had to learn it myself (for free).

  3. WHAT? US News & World Report going gaga in its ratings over Boston University’s “five-star dormitories”???? Has anybody from USN&WR, or from BU administration for that matter, ever bothered to tour the Warren Tower slum? The bathrooms? The showers? the rooms? The disgusting 1970s filthy curtains? Disgusting to be honest.

  4. He also assumes ALL goes well in life. No serious illness, no natural disasters to destroy a home that you paid ahead and it becomes worthless, and the part that if you didn’t get certain qualifications from a great education you might spend years in much lower paying job that lasts longer than time to pay off debt. He also seems to think there is a lot of interest or gain in throwing money into a savings account. All I can say, he comes from a time when savings accounts paid higher interests, companies provided pensions and insurance, and even investing could earn a single investor income. I agree with concept of living within your budget. Also, moving in with Mom probably helps young person more than Mom unless young person is paying ALL their own expenses. Otherwise it probably cost Mom more.

  5. To each his own. As in all things lately, stereotyping and generalizing results in much irrelevancy. Coincidentally, we have sent our kids to both BU and Oberlin, both on hefty scholarship as well as sucking our accounts, topped off with student loans. Yes, it was that ridiculously expensive. Result? Kids are earning out of the gate what took us over twenty five years to accomplish. Did we overpay? Absolutely. Would we have done otherwise? For our family, probably not. As old schoolers, we leaned into the dream of noteworthy credentials. But we are only one hardworking example. Our kids are high achievers with driven work ethic. Not every student/family benefits from such exorbitant expense and I’m sure there are plenty of examples of high achievers hailing from modest institutions. Inflation overall is a much bigger concern at this point.

  6. I think what Kotlikoff brings up is an important topic families need to have while choosing to send their kid to college and if so which college(private, public, community). Strictly looking at it financially it can be an overpayment, especially private tuition. However, the main thing I think families should consider is what their kid will be studying. As much as I would love for every student to study whatever they love, some major’s have a significantly lower ROI. As a result, students studying for lower paying careers are going to be exponentially more tied down to student debt, and future financial trouble. So I think what each student studies, sadly, is a very important decision and must be made smartly, balancing their enjoyment but also for their financial future.

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