States Slash Tuition for Bargain Basement Baccalaureates!
October 25, 2013

A couple of years ago, three Republican governors in Florida, Texas and Wisconsin issued a challenge to their state colleges to develop bachelor’s degree programs that would cost just $10,000. The good news is the university systems have taken up the gauntlet and delivered more affordable tuition for many degree programs in their states. Here’s a look at how each of the three states is tackling the challenge to educate less expensively:

Florida Programs

While almost 24 Florida colleges signed on to accept Governor Rick Scott’s $10,000 degree challenge one year ago, this year only 10 were ready to sign up students, but in 12 short months, that’s still impressive. One of the colleges that has set up their low cost shop is Broward College that’s offering four degrees, including teaching degrees in math and science as well as IT and global trade and logistics.

The requirements are that the student have a 3.0 GPA, be a first time college student, commit to continuous enrollment (not counting summer) and must maintain residency in Florida. These caveats are similar to those at other Florida colleges. And while news outlets have disparaged the programs as being off to a slow start, in fact enrollment doesn’t open up to incoming freshman until January.

Colleges that are participating include:

• College of Central Florida
• Edison State College
• Gulf Coast State College
• Indian River State College
• Miami Dade College
• Northwest Florida State College
• Pensacola State College
• Polk State College
• Seminole State College
• St. Petersburg College

Texas Programs

Governor Rick Perry of Texas said his goal was for 10% of degrees achieved in Texas to cost at or less than the $10,000 price tag. 13 colleges have signed on to participate, but many require credits to be earned while still in high school, which doesn’t help those who have already graduated high school and are seeking a degree. Seven of the 13 have a requirement for students to earn a significant number of hours either in high school or community college and don’t calculate those in the $10,000 price tag. Some of the schools that include community college credits did include them in the cost.

Some of the degrees that can be sought on the cheap in Texas include: early childhood education, IT, health care services, chemistry, computer science, geology, math, information systems, English, history, communication, psychology, Spanish and criminal justice. While they don’t seem to have their cost systems down as pat as Florida, Texas schools seem to be offering a wider array of majors for bargain seekers.

Colleges that are participating include:

• University of Texas, Arlington
• University of Texas, Permian Basin
• University of Texas, Brownsville
• Tarleton State University
• Texas A&M University, Commerce
• Texas A&M University, San Antonio
• Texas A&M University, Texarkana
• Texas A&M International University
• Angelo State University
• Sul Ross State University
• University of Houston, Clear Lake
• University of Houston, Downtown
• University of Houston, Victoria

Wisconsin Program

Governor Scott Walker took affordable education to task personally and developed a proposal that has manifested in the creation of the University of Wisconsin Flexible Degree Program. The key to this program is allowing students that can demonstrate college-level competencies to take an evaluation to prove their knowledge and gain credit for the course. Students can rely on life or on-the-job skills, MOOCs or independent study skills to gain mastery. The first bachelor’s programs that have come online include nursing, information science, information technology and diagnostic imaging.

There are two cost options – one allows you to pay $900 for a three month subscription to a set of assessments and the other is an All-You-Can-Learn Option for $2,250 that allows you to take as many assessments as you want during the period. For those that have the knowledge to do their job but find the lack of a degree is holding them back professionally, this can be great. Also for those that use high quality MOOCs to learn skills, this could be beneficial and offer a cheaper degree with no loss in quality. But for those who learn best in a classroom environment, it would be wonderful if Wisconsin offered an affordable option that included face to face learning.

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