Could a $10k BA Fix Our Broken Student Loan System?
March 6, 2013

If you’re looking back at your student loan debt and despairing over the number of zeroes at the end of what you owe or are just getting ready to start (or go back to) college and worry that the price tag may not be worth it, a $10,000 Bachelor’s could be a great solution. For all those in student loan debt owing $28,000 or more, a $10k BA could see you graduating owing nothing (or near to it). Federal aid such as Pell Grants and other free money could cover the cost entirely and you could graduate with that much-coveted degree with no debt and little out of pocket costs. 

A recent Pew Research survey “Is College Worth It?” found:

  • ♣ 57% of Americans say the higher education system does not provide good value for           money spent
  • ♣ 75% of Americans say college is too expensive to afford
  • ♣ 48% of grads with student loans say paying off their debt has made it harder to pay            other bills
  • ♣ 25% of grads with student loans say paying off their debt has made it harder to buy a         home
  • ♣ 24% of grads with student loans say paying off their debt has impacted their career            choice 

It seems like the goal of bettering yourself through higher education should be obtainable by all who want it. Just like no one should be priced out of clean drinking water or fresh air to breathe, so it should be with a college education. And if it’s only obtainable by taking on oppressive debt, that’s not much better than having no access at all. This is the beauty of the $10k BA.

One holder of a $10k BA is Arthur C. Brooks, PhD – a former Syracuse University professor – who shared his journey to higher education in The New York Times. He got his cheap BA old school via correspondence (aka snail mail university) but it’s still do-able now. A growing number of state governors (already including Texas, Florida and Wisconsin) have called on their state public universities to deliver cheaper education – hopefully many schools will heed the call.


Journalist David Alm offered a spirited rebuttal to Brooks with a blog of his own at He criticizes Brooks’ process as only made possible by all of the full paying students at the universities that offered him correspondence courses. He writes as if Brooks was some sort of leech on the traditional university process and deserves scorn rather than kudos for getting a quality education on the cheap. Alm says, “Great for Brooks. He played the system and won.” 

I don’t see Brooks’ tale as one of a cheat who gamed the system in any way. His path is likely no longer available – who mails anything anymore? But the sentiment rings true. If you really want a college education and have a pauper’s budget, wouldn’t it be great if you could find a way? Whether it’s online courses, a stint at a community college, work study programs or any other cheap alternative, if you want an education, you should be able to get it. 

And the push for the $10k BA seems to strike a chord. There’s a need and if schools can fill it, in addition to offering plusher degree alternatives, why not? I’ll revisit this topic in the future if the notion gains momentum. For now, if you’ve already paid more for school and have accumulated student debt, try’s free student loan management and optimization tool to help you tackle your debt more effectively.