MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Governor Rick Scott has thrown down a proverbial gauntlet to all state colleges – come up with bachelor degree programs which don’t cost more than $10,000.
Making stops at the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College and appearing on a Tampa news show, Scott said his goal is to address rising education costs and student debt.
“You should be able to work and go to school and not end up with debt. If these degrees cost so much money, tuition is so high, that’s not going to happen,” said Scott. “I have put out this challenge to our state colleges; we have 28 great state colleges and say can you come up with degrees where individuals can get jobs that the total degree costs $10,000?”
Educators say many college graduates are underemployed and bogged down in trying to pay off student loans. This is debt that doesn’t go away. To make matters worse, the Bright Scholarships and other programs which would have helped students in the past just aren’t there anymore.
“Today what I’m doing is saying to our state colleges, ‘Can you come up with $10,000-degrees, where people can get great jobs, do what you want when you went to school, you went there to make more money, so you could live your version of the American dream,” said Scott.
Randy Hanna, the chancellor of Florida’s college system, agreed that they should work toward making tuition affordable.
“Florida must be focused on affordability in higher education. The efforts of our colleges to work to produce baccalaureate degrees at a lower cost should provide a major benefit to our students and help meet Florida’s workforce needs,” said Hanna.
“My goal is that we really think about how we can reduce over the overall cost of higher ed. Look, if you’re in business, your customer expects you to lower your prices every year. Figure out efficient ways of doing things. We have to have the same expectations of our state colleges and our universities. So I’m going to start with our state colleges,” said Scott.
The Florida legislature approved a process in 2001 that allowed community colleges to seek approval to offer bachelor’s degrees. Today 22 of Florida’s 28 state colleges are authorized to offer almost 150 baccalaureate programs.
The Florida College System said nearly 65 percent of the state’s high school graduates pursue post-secondary education at one the 28 accredited colleges.