Is a $10,000 Bachelor's Degree Feasible?

By Catherine Groux
Posted December 06, 2012 11:00 AM

Is a $10,000 bachelor's degree feasible?
Is a $10,000 bachelor's degree feasible?
At the end of November, while many Floridians were taking advantage of the sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Governor Rick Scott announced a new type of deal they may soon be able to participate in. During a press conference at St. Petersburg College, Scott revealed the Governor's $10,000 Degree Challenge, which asks the state's community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees to in-state residents for $10,000 or less.

"As I travel the state, families tell me that they care about three things - getting a good job, a quality education and enjoying a low cost of living," Scott said during the press conference. "As a former community college student myself, I know how important it is for us to keep costs low while working to connect students with degree fields that prepare them for great careers." 

Community Colleges Support Scott's Plan

Although Scott's plan is voluntary, more than half of the 28 schools in the Florida College System have accepted the challenge and are currently searching for innovative ways to offer $10,000 bachelor's degrees, Sunshine State News reports. Among them is Brevard Community College, which recently petitioned the State Board of Education to create its very first bachelor's degree program.

"We're strongly supportive of Governor Scott's plan and intent to start examining four-year degrees that we could offer for $10,000 that would put more educational and career opportunities within the reach of more students," Brevard Community College's President Jim Richey told Sunshine State News.

Other schools that have accepted Scott's challenge include St. Petersburg College, Chipola College and South Florida State College. 

Some Academics Remain Skeptical

While many colleges have embraced Scott's plan to make higher education more affordable, some professionals remain skeptical. Daniel J. Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, recently wrote to USA Today that when federal grants, tax credits, and state and institutional aid is taken into account, the net price students pay for a bachelor's degree in Florida is already under $10,000.

Therefore, Hurley states that the best way to make college more affordable is for states to invest in public colleges. This year, states across the country have made drastic higher education cuts, forcing schools to enroll more students and increase tuition rates.

"Students deserve, parents demand and employers require a quality public higher education," Hurley wrote to USA Today. "Putting an artificially set retail price tag of $10,000 on a bachelor's degree seems like a populist gimmick that diverts attention from more serious solutions for ensuring access to an affordable public college education."

In an article in The Famuan, students from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University expressed similar concerns. The students questioned how a $10,000 would be feasible, and wondered if schools would have to decrease the quality of these degree programs in order to offer them at such a low price.

"This is a great initiative that will motivate more people to attend college and earn degrees, assuming there will be jobs available for these people," the students wrote. "However, a college can barely keep the lights on with students only paying $10,000 in tuition each year."

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