Paid Off: today’s perfect symbol for how we pay for American higher ed

How does America finance higher ed in 2018?  How about… a tv game show?

“Paid Off” is a real program, and might just be the perfect symbol for our academic financing situation.  I haven’t seen it yet, but the Washington Post offers a good introduction:

[actor and comedian Michael] Torpey and the cable network TruTV have devised “Paid Off,” a show that offers the elements of a classic trivia game show with a Sallie Mae twist.

This is an openly critical effort:

“One of the mantras is ‘an absurd show to match an absurd crisis,’ ” Torpey, who hosts the program, said in an interview. “A game show feels really apt because this is the state of things right now.”

The series will kick off the first of 16 episodes Tuesday, hoping to raise consciousness about the many students and graduates saddled with debt and provide a few of them some relief.

As Jezebel put it, “a game show that’s just a bit too real.”

Here’s more from the Washington Post:

“Paid Off,” which counts as its showrunner “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” veteran Leigh Hampton, follows the format of a traditional game show. Three contestants square off to answer a range of trivia questions. Categories often come with an education-related twist, such as questions on “-ology” or surveys about the best job you could have in college.

Contestants — most are in their late 20s or early 30s — must be carrying college debt to appear on the show. (Some of their loads run as high as $50,000.) Depending on how many questions the winner answers in a speed round, the show will pay up to 100 percent of those loans, with TruTV footing the bill.

Yes, this is where American higher ed financing has led us.  Remember that this is a new structure for us, historically.  Recall that no other nation has imitated the US, at least not to this scale.

I submit “Paid Off” as a subject for discussion.

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One Response to Paid Off: today’s perfect symbol for how we pay for American higher ed

  1. I believe season 2 will be more like The Hunger Games…last person standing gets their debt forgiven while everyone who dies will have their debt put upon their surviving families…

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