Skip to comments.The $10,000 Degree: Instead of increasing financial aid, two states are decreasing college tuition.
Posted on 12/13/2012 7:15:13 AM PST by SeekAndFind
As college costs rise rapidly in most places, Texas and Florida are trying to implement something that has become a radical notion: a degree that costs only $10,000.
Texas governor Rick Perry announced this goal for his state last year. (Perry was inspired by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who had remarked that online learning ought to make it possible for students to pay just $2,000 per year for college.) In November, Florida governor Rick Scott announced that he, too, wanted to see state colleges offer bachelors degrees for $10,000 or less. In Texas, ten colleges have signed on (some of them working together in a partnership), while in Florida, twelve colleges nearly half of the 23 four-year colleges in the Florida community-college system, which includes both two-year and four-year institutions either have developed proposals or are in the process of doing so.
Considering that the nations public colleges cost $13,000 per year on average for tuition, room, and board, while private colleges cost an average of $32,000 a year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics 201011 academic-year numbers, Texas and Florida colleges have their work cut out for them. But there is plenty of demand for cheaper degrees: Some 57 percent of Americans think students are not getting enough value for the money they spend, according to a May Pew Research Center survey.
People have been worried about higher-ed affordability for a long time now, says Thomas Lindsay, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundations Center for Higher Education. But what thats always led to is calls on two fronts: one, to make it possible for students to pay for higher tuitions by extending them ever-greater easy money through federally subsidized loans, or two, for taxpayers to pay more money through greater support of higher ed at the state level. However, the $10,000-degree effort means that for the first time, were [addressing] the affordability issue by actually lowering tuition.
Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and a professor at Ohio University, points to a variety of tools that colleges could use to reduce costs including online education, reduction of administrative staff, and requiring professors to teach more hours. Theres no reason a public-school education cant be offered for $10,000 a student, he remarks.
When Perry first announced the push for $10,000 degrees, he wasnt greeted with cheers. When the governor issued this challenge two years ago, during his state of higher education address in 2011, there was almost universal panning of the idea, [based on a belief] that theres no way we can do it, says Dominic Chavez, a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The attitude toward Perrys challenge, he continues, was, Youre going to necessarily reduce rigor if youre going to do this, because youre basically going to be printing diplomas, and theres no way we can offer it at that price, etc., etc.
Of course, current colleges (at current rates!) are not necessarily delivering much bang for the buck either: According to Richard Arum and Josipha Roksa, authors of the 2011 book Academically Adrift, 36 percent of college students fail to show any significant improvement over four years as measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment.
So its not just that a college degree is unaffordable, Lindsay remarks. Its also very, very low-quality in all too many cases. The higher-ed establishment is an industry that is ripe for disruptive innovation, and thats whats happening.
Texas colleges are trying different ways to reach the $10,000 goal. In a September report for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Lindsay outlined the various approaches. For instance, Texas A&M UniversitySan Antonio is offering a program under which students first take college-level classes in high school, then attend community college for a year, and finally complete their degrees by attending A&MSan Antonio for the last year. University of Texas of the Permian Basin has launched a program that will cost $10,000 with all courses being taught at the university.
One significant limitation is that so far, the $10,000 programs cover only a few majors. The A&MSan Antonio program offers only a major in information technology, while UTPB has five majors available for $10,000: math, chemistry, geology, computer science, and information systems.
Through the Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Program which is run by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas A&M UniversityCommerce, and South Texas College the Lone Star State is looking at additional ways to reduce costs, such as online courses. Another change that looks promising is letting students test out of classes whose subjects they can master on their own.
A cheaper degree does not necessarily mean a degree that is worth less. Our colleges will not be developing programs where the academic quality is diminished, says Randy Hanna, chancellor of the Florida college system. Already, Floridas colleges have gained acclaim: In 2011, Valencia College won the award for top community college in the country from the Aspen Institute (an educational and policy studies organization), while Broward College and Santa Fe College made the Institutes list of ten finalists for the 2013 award.
Florida, like Texas, is looking at greater use of online courses. Already, says Hanna, Florida is a big provider of online education. Between 20 and 25 percent of all of our students in the Florida college system take one or more online courses.
Still, it remains to be proven that colleges can actually reduce the price to $10,000. Neither Florida nor Texas is giving additional subsidies to schools that offer the $10,000 degrees, but schools can draw on the resources (including government funds) they already have to finance the programs.
Its not going to be a silver bullet, admits Chavez. But he thinks Texas could gain in the long term. Were working on a number of cost-efficiency recommendations for higher education that, combined with this particular tool, we think will, over the long term, start to bend that cost curve, or at least start to control costs and the inflation that weve seen in the last decade or so.
Vedder thinks its important to view $10,000 degrees as an option for those already planning to go to college, not as a technique to attract more students. Vedder says he sees too many students with college degrees working jobs such as being bartenders or janitors that they are overqualified for.
But regardless of how these degrees are ultimately utilized, if Texas and Florida succeed, its likely that more states will look to introduce similar programs.
Now that parents and students have begun to hear that there is a $10,000 degree out there, Lindsay says, I think what you are going to see [is that] this is going to spread like wildfire.
Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.
I know where this will go.
Initially only those with GPA in prep courses of 4.0 will get into these programs. Then down the road that will be determined to ‘not be fair’ and only minorities will get into these cost restricted programs.
I can think of numerous reasons for online studies. The biggest one by far is the reduction of leftist “in your face” professors and the possibility that all of liberal studies will be online thereby eliminating a ton of worthless lefty instructors.
Back in the day I only went to college to get out of college as we couldn’t even get a job interview without a degree.
Colleges kept raising tuition to create a funding shortage, and immediately the Dems' first idea to fix it was to make the program means-tested.
Fortunately, they are the minority party.
Why should the taxpayer have to provide finical aid to students attending an expensive private college that has the means to provide aid but chooses not to?
Too big of an industry that provides too much of the grass roots support for Liberal Democrats. They’ll find some way to strangle this in the crib.
Check out the criteria for being named a ‘top community college’ and you’ll see there’s little to do with actual quality of education:
I went to a private college for my undergrad and I thought how it was so ****ed up where the tuition was high but there were heavy subsidies for students who couldn’t afford to go there. Back then, I mentioned the tuition should be reduced and subsidies taken out but was told it was fair that those should are well to do should help those that cannot afford the tuition. Of course we had many executive VP’s too.
RE: Here is a tax I could support. Private colleges that have an endowment over 50 million..maybe more?, who don’t provide a singinifact % of that as finicial aid, would have that endowment taxed each year.
And what is Uncle Sam going to do with that money? do we TRUST Uncle sam to do right by it or waste it even more?
My hope would be that private universities with large endowments would start funding financial aid instead of turning over the same amount or more in tax money. They could even turn it into a positive, “we give X amount back to our students”.
I like to see it all earmaked to financial aid programs but in reality I know you are right, they would just waste it.
Here’s an idea to cut college tuition almost in half. Eliminate the requirement to take liberal arts courses for all technical degrees. The idea of a “well rounded engineer” makes no sense. I would require English and Technical Writing and get rid of philosophy, psychology, art history, ecology and all the rest. The benefits would be twofold: An engineer would graduate sooner and the communist arts professors would be out of a job.
Those are fighting words - because it once it starts won't take a great leap of imagination for people to start thinkinggovernment is also an industry ripe for disruptive innovation.
Plenty of degrees can be offered 100% online for a minimal total cost with no less "rigor" than is being provided today. But a whole lot of expensive campuses would have to be remodeled into FEMA Death Camps to retain any utility whatsoever. :)