Green Room

A $10,000 college degree? Rick Perry bets on it

posted at 2:59 pm on November 23, 2012 by

With costs exploding in higher education and student debt becoming a crippling fact of life, many are looking for ways to reduce costs while maintaining access and quality.  Texas Governor Rick Perry has challenged colleges and universities in his state to crafting baccalaureate degree programs that will cost no more than $10,000, including tuition and books — and may have found success already:

Texas is experimenting with an initiative to help students and families struggling with sky-high college costs: a bachelor’s degree for $10,000, including tuition fees and even textbooks. Under a plan he unveiled in 2011, Republican Gov. Rick Perry has called on institutions in his state to develop options for low-cost undergraduate degrees. The idea was greeted with skepticism at first, but lately, it seems to be gaining traction. If it yields success, it could prompt other states to explore similar, more-innovative ways to cut the cost of education. …

In the Lone Star State, 10 institutions have so far responded to the governor’s call with unique approaches, ranging from a five-year general-degree pipeline that combines high school, community college, and four-year university credits to a program that relies on competency-based assessments to enable students to complete a degree in organizational leadership in as little as 18 months.

At Angelo State University, admissions will begin in January for a four-year interdisciplinary-studies program through which students can combine three separate minors into one bachelor’s degree for an overall cost of $9,974. ASU President Joseph Rallo envisions the program as the perfect fit for an adult who is interested in broadening his skills in order to advance his career, not necessarily a student looking for the traditional college experience.

“The profile that we aim the degree for is the adult student who is interested in a broad degree and at the same time a degree that would be academically rigorous,” Rallo said, adding that students must have an ACT score of 27 or above to enter the program and maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average to continue.

At the University of Texas (Arlington), the university teamed up with Tarrant County community colleges and school districts to create a program that would allow students to obtain a degree in any field for less than $10,000. Students in their junior and senior years of high school will complete dual credit programs already provided by their school districts in order to earn some college credit. The students will go on to spend about a year at community college before finishing their degree at UT Arlington.

These are innovative approaches, and could help some students keep their education debt to manageable levels.  It won’t work in every discipline — law, medicine, and the hard sciences usually require a set curriculum at the college level — but it could help a lot of other students succeed without economically burdening them or taxpayers for decades.  It’s worth watching to see whether these programs can indirectly lower costs and reduce the strain on academic resources in those other areas, too.

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Good for him. This is the kind of program that we as a party need to promote.

gophergirl on November 23, 2012 at 3:03 PM

This is very good. But they should also include testing out on generic required subjects like history and the arts. For many the 1st 2 years of college are simply learning what should have been learned in high school. If you can show you have a proficiency in English, Writing, History, etc. you should not have to do this again to get a degree in Computer Science. Paying $400 a credit to attend an English Lit class in an auditorium with 500 others is ridiculous and wasteful.

Rocks on November 23, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Step one: Eliminate all classes and lectures for non-developmentally disabled students above the age of twelve.

Step two: There is no step two.

logis on November 23, 2012 at 3:08 PM

This sounds like a good plan Perry. I didn’t read all of this, but does illegal aliens get the same thing?

I wonder when holder will sue the state again for endless going around bho’s plans? The 10th alive and well it seems in our TX? Keep up the good work Perry and Abbott!
L

letget on November 23, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Rocks on November 23, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Agreed. Depending upon the major and future career plans of each student, there are already ways to dramatically reduce the costs of finishing a bachelor’s degree. One could knock out most of the courses of the first couple of years by taking CLEP or DSST exams, which are accepted at most colleges and universities, pay far less for courses online through something like Straighterline (accepted at about 30 schools so far), switch to a school like Thomas Edison State College for their bachelor’s while seeking a better name school for their master’s, etc. Check out many of the ideas on Degree Forum Wiki and DF Forum to cut costs.

Bear in mind, however, that some of these ideas will not work for jobs that require more hands-on-training or where having a degree from a better-known university is a must. Oh and certainly if you get a scholarship to a college you should take it. Yet for the bulk of college students, the alternatives online nowadays will satisfy most of what they need for their intended careers. What I really like about many of these changes nowadays is that the monopoly brick-and-mortar schools have had over higher education is being seriously challenged and competition is becoming more and more accepted.

JohnAGJ on November 23, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I like the TX state college system. The core curriculum is unified throughout the system, so credits easily transfer. The list of mandatory classes is broad-based and provides a comprehensive foundation in math, communications, humanities, history, government, science, social science/psych, and arts.

The only quibble I have is that the system is still structured to protect the revenue of the 4 year schools. Rates for community colleges are very low, particularly for students who remain in their own district. Two years ago, classes were $35/credit at our local college. However, once a student has been a student at any of the 4 year schools, he can no longer receive credit for community college courses once he has earned 60 credits. This makes sense for 4 year schools that are trying to prevent students from taking more cost-effective classes at other schools. It doesn’t make much sense for individual students, particularly those who leave the 4 year system but want to continue work on their degrees. Just amending this provision would improve the costs for many students, but the 4 year schools would pitch a fit.

obladioblada on November 23, 2012 at 4:27 PM

This is very good. But they should also include testing out on generic required subjects like history and the arts.

Rocks

They can do that now via CLEP and DANTES tests. Most students don’t know they have this option, and most colleges and universities make little if any effort to get this info to them because it means less money for them, and we can’t have that, can we?. It’s all about the money for colleges and universities. That’s why they pile on all these unnecessary courses in the first place.

xblade on November 23, 2012 at 4:28 PM

If only he could debate… Sigh…

southernms on November 23, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Wow, now we will have even MORE bartenders, waiters, grocery baggers, and retail floor staff with college degrees. Meanwhile, the population that repairs jet engines and locomotives is getting older and nobody graduates people with a “degree” in that.

crosspatch on November 23, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I bet there is little room in that curriculum for “consciousness raising” and the metaphysics of Star Trek.

Sekhmet on November 23, 2012 at 4:45 PM

I didn’t read all of this, but

That says it all.

Capitalist Hog on November 23, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Great article on Knowledge Transcripts which would go a long way to lowering college costs:

The Case Against the College Degree
Columnist Jack Hough: Today’s degree loses money and obstructs learning. … and compile the results on standardized knowledge transcripts.

hepcat on November 23, 2012 at 5:24 PM

This is progressive thinking. It now allows just about everybody to get a degree. Which makes everyone’s degree worthless. If we all have degrees, how does having a degree allow you to get ahead? Remember, in the phrase “get ahead”, it is understood to mean that you are getting ahead of the pack. The pack can’t possibly get ahead of itself.

keep the change on November 23, 2012 at 5:35 PM

This is progressive thinking. It now allows just about everybody to get a degree. Which makes everyone’s degree worthless. If we all have degrees, how does having a degree allow you to get ahead? Remember, in the phrase “get ahead”, it is understood to mean that you are getting ahead of the pack. The pack can’t possibly get ahead of itself.

keep the change on November 23, 2012 at 5:35 PM

You have to have a degree to get an entry level admin job now a days. That salary barely lets you live comfortably in a lot of places.

There are going to be a lot of people who can’t afford this either. What this does do is allow people to work and put themselves through school without taking loans. That’s what I did and believe me it was hard work.

gophergirl on November 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

You have to have a degree to get an entry level admin job now a days.

And the greater the percentage of job seekers with a degree, the less effective having a degree becomes.

keep the change on November 23, 2012 at 5:45 PM

I don’t see a downside to this plan. There are a lot of colleges that only require a student to graduate with a 2.0 and they pay up to $100,000 or more for a degree. I would think the kid who has to keep a 3.0 is going to have to work a lot harder for his “cheap” degree than some of these elite students at Ivy League schools do.

scalleywag on November 23, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Hooray except…why is the state involved in running higher education, again? And why does Texas need several separate state university systems?

Also, Mac Brown’s salary.

TexasDan on November 23, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Figures this would come around after we spent $200k on the kids’ higher education.

:(

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on November 23, 2012 at 6:25 PM

This couldn’t be worse than what somebody bought for sham Zero at Hahvahd.

viking01 on November 23, 2012 at 7:43 PM

As long as the government is involved in providing funds for any program, it’s costs will skyrocket. That’s the nature of the beast. People and organizations have no qualms about fleecing the government or a faceless bureaucracy with outrageous fees.

Get government out of higher education and watch the costs of a college education plummet.

ButterflyDragon on November 23, 2012 at 7:46 PM

This is going to eventually be the future of liberal-arts education.

Too often people bash the liberal arts as if they don’t matter; they do, and for centuries they were the foundation of a well-rounded education. But no one should be going into 6 figure debt for a degree in English or Philosophy.

Good Solid B-Plus on November 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM

I don’t see a downside to this plan. There are a lot of colleges that only require a student to graduate with a 2.0 and they pay up to $100,000 or more for a degree. I would think the kid who has to keep a 3.0 is going to have to work a lot harder for his “cheap” degree than some of these elite students at Ivy League schools do.

scalleywag on November 23, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Except that once 3.0 becomes the minimum grade required to continue in the program, 3.0 becomes the new 2.0. Professors — more likely, part-time adjunct instructors — will give out B’s like candy. They did when I was in college.

Brendon Carr on November 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM

I usually like Rick Perry. This would be a great addition to his legacy if this idea gains legs.

22044 on November 23, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Since college is the goal of 99 percent of parents. It would be good if we could get people a degree faster. High Schools could get smart kids a general college degree with one more year of schooling.

Mormontheman on November 23, 2012 at 9:43 PM

High School should stop 2 years early. A third of the country makes under 12 dollars an hour doing jobs that require little schooling.

Mormontheman on November 23, 2012 at 9:46 PM

These are innovative approaches, and could help some students keep their education debt to manageable levels. It won’t work in every discipline — law, medicine, and the hard sciences usually require a set curriculum at the college level — but it could help a lot of other students succeed without economically burdening them or taxpayers for decades. It’s worth watching to see whether these programs can indirectly lower costs and reduce the strain on academic resources in those other areas, too.

Do we really need more lawyers and scientists though?

nazo311 on November 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Do we really need more lawyers and scientists though?

nazo311 on November 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Scientists could discover new ways to get rid of lawyers.

viking01 on November 24, 2012 at 12:28 AM

Scientists could discover new ways to get rid of lawyers.

viking01 on November 24, 2012 at 12:28 AM

rofl.. :cool:

Dire Straits on November 24, 2012 at 7:05 AM

More vocation/trade schools… I can assure you the master carpenter who did my built-ins makes more than every one of the baristas in the three Starbucks in my town.

Roc on November 25, 2012 at 1:37 AM

This is a dangerous way of thinking. Reducing the cost of a college degree hurts only the little guy, cant you see that?

bictech on November 25, 2012 at 8:09 AM

High School should stop 2 years early. A third of the country makes under 12 dollars an hour doing jobs that require little schooling.

Mormontheman on November 23, 2012 at 9:46 PM

The sad thing is that in trying to give students general knowledge of everything, high school ends up just cramming too little on too many subjects, most of which – teachers forgive me here – they may never use in their lives.

We need to have students start choosing specific fields of study earlier, IMHO.

MelonCollie on November 25, 2012 at 9:23 PM