Ever since Texas governor Rick Perry provided the spur, the state’s public colleges have been working on creating affordable solutions to unacceptably high tuition costs. Back in 2011 Perry called for the creation of bachelor’s degree programs that would cost no more the $10,000. Several of the state’s public colleges have risen to the challenge. Texans are concerned not only with the affordability of higher education, but like the rest of America, the state also wishes to see quality improvements. The solutions that have been put into practice, as well as those still in the making, center around combining these two goals by linking academic success to affordability. This direction is exactly the one encouraged by the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s new report entitled, Toward Strengthening Texas Higher Education: 10 Areas of Reform.
The most immediate results of Governor Perry’s call came from Texas A&M’s San Antonio campus, which, in March of 2012 announced its new degree program in Information Technology for a cost of just under $10,000. The school was able to provide the degree for such an affordable price by combining the credits from college-level high school courses and the credits from one year of community college with upper level courses on campus.
University of Texas
The next evolutionary leap came from the University of Texas at its Permian Basin campus. This past fall UTPB began offering five bachelor of science degree programs, each for under $10,000, in: Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, Information Systems and Mathematics. These are not combo programs as at A&M, but are degree programs offered all on UTPB’s campus. The catch is that the program has very challenging admission standards and only accepts a limited number of students. As a result, students are encouraged to compete academically for entitlement to this affordable education.
Reinforcing this trend, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s report stresses the importance of an informed electorate in any democratic system, an idea that drives the report’s suggestions as to how to further link academic success to affordability. It’s an issue that has been on the minds of Americans for a long time now, certainly when we compare the education statistics of this country with those around the world. This concern was kicked up a notch by assertions in the attention grabbing study Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, indicating that college students are no better educated after college than before it. They are unarguably, however, far worse off financially.
It’s indisputable that something needs to change and certainly the growing trend in Texas is worth looking into; it’ll be interesting to see where the state goes from here. In the meantime, for struggling borrowers, there are student aid organizations that can help you manage your debt.