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Gov. Scott’s Notion of Cheaper State College Degrees Termed “Walmart of Education”

| November 26, 2012

That’s no $10,000 cast.

Gov. Rick Scott “challenged” state colleges to create $10,000 four-year degrees, a continuation of his low-cost strategy for higher education that Democrats slammed as an attempt to turn the schools into “the Walmart of Education.”

Scott issued his challenge in a media blitz and a morning press conference at St. Petersburg College, with another event scheduled for Orlando in the afternoon.

“You should be able to work and go to school and not end up with debt,” Scott told WFLA TV, according to a transcript provided by his office. “If these degrees cost so much money, tuition is so high, that’s not going to happen. 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?'”

State colleges are generally what used to be known as community colleges, though many of them now offer four year degrees.

The proposal echoes a similar push by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Scott’s political idol, for $10,000 degrees in that state. It also comes as Scott has made containing the costs of higher education a top priority after colleges and universities say years of budget cuts have forced tuition hikes.

At the morning press conference, St. Petersburg College President William Law said his school would accept the challenge.

“St. Petersburg College is once again excited about the opportunity to be part of a statewide college pilot program that lowers the cost of a college education for the citizens we serve,” Law said in a press release. “Affordable education always has been at the forefront of the college’s mission.”

Scott did not appear to be offering any new funding to college to help cover the cost of the initiative.

Scott has talked about the $10,000 degree program before, and others have proposed a set cost for higher education. A blue ribbon task force set up by Scott to study the State University System — which doesn’t include the colleges — recommended a similar goal for Florida’s 12 universities.

“The state will maintain a full-time, resident, undergraduate tuition option with a targeted rate of approximately … $15,000 for a bachelor’s degree,” the task force’s report said.

But the Florida Democratic Party blasted the idea in an email, saying Scott should instead focus on increasing funding for higher education.

“We’ve heard these empty words from Rick Scott before and Florida’s middle class families are looking for real leadership — not failed gimmicks masquerading as sound bites,” the party said.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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8 Responses for “Gov. Scott’s Notion of Cheaper State College Degrees Termed “Walmart of Education””

  1. ohdave says:

    Question: are the wealthy foreign elite coming to the US to study at our community colleges or our fine research universities? Why is that?

    It is definitely possible to Wal-martize higher ed by staffing your university with part time staff, loading down full time faculty with a heavy teaching load, packing classrooms, and destroying the research mission of the university. Community colleges are great–I work at one part time myself–but they don’t meet the needs of all students, and they don’t do the heavy lifting of research and publishing that advances knowledge and contributes so heavily to the economy of the state and of the nation in general. This kind of attitude is penny wise and pound foolish… in the long run weakening Florida’s and the nation’s universities will hurt the country far more than it will help. Of course Scott and Perry won’t help lower the cost of college BY PROPERLY FUNDING COLLEGE EDUCATION THROUGH DIRECT STATE SUPPORT… that would be socialist.

  2. John Smith says:

    I’m going to Daytona State for my Bachelors and I don’t actually expect it to be worth anything in the job market, but I don’t really have much of a choice. Good luck with this not cheapening that even further. For me, it’s just something I have to do.

  3. Samuel Smith says:

    Here’s how meaningless this gesture was. Current yearly tuition cost at valencia is $2377, not including items like books, meal plans, and other sundries. That’s right: $2377. This means that right now, this moment, a 4-year degree from a state school costs less than $10k.

    That’s why state schools are jumping all over this. Firstly, it looks good to the average person that doesn’t know how much state schools cost and makes them look good. Secondly, the state itself restricts what kind of 4 year degree they can offer so that they don’t compete with universities, and what the smiler has offered may be the ability to offer degrees that compete with them.

  4. w.ryan says:

    Part timers come to work to supplement their income. Where will the dedication in part timers come from.
    This is lowering the bar once again. Why not pay the teachers what they are worth, cut the cost by funding
    and support a grade A education system.

  5. Dawg says:

    Wish Gov Perry would go jump in a lake. Then, Rick Scott would too.

  6. Liana G says:

    In today’s job market where working at McDonald’s now requires a college degree, this is a step in the right direction. Currently, over 50% of college grads are unemployed with no job prospects in sight. And with the new education guidelines that the Obama administration recently rolled out that lower the standards for certain minority groups, heck everyone will be getting a guaranteed college degree. Colleges are already diploma mills, why gouge the taxpayers and students even more. Of course democrats are in arms over this move! After all, they are the ones raking in the dough and are responsible for our out of control trillion dollar student debt that cannot be written off even in bankruptcy!

    Not too long ago, I read a very good article in USA Today about ever increasing tuition costs. The article cited George Washington University where tuition is $54,000? a year. Where students get less classes but more fluff offered – more cafes, social meeting places, gyms, bigger dorm rooms, etc., but LESS academic courses. In actuality, academic staff were reduced to approximately 60% over the years.

    As for research, this is another taxpayer/student rip off. Most of these public universities use hard earned taxpayers dollars and ridiculously high tuition costs on research that benefit the private sector and not gov’t, or the taxpayers, or the students. Let the freaking private sector pay for its own research! And let’s make public colleges affordable if the private sector is going to require a college degree to flip damn burgers!

    Name this local school…here we go again! This is so embarrassing for an ‘A’ rated school.

    “If student is absent they will need to bring in a parent note or doctors note when they return to school,
    Thank You for your cooperation”

    • Samuel Smith says:

      1. I think you’re referring to “no child left behind” which was a policy set by the Bush administration.

      2. GWU is a private university, not a public one, and it caters to lawyers. Your point is moot, and equivalent to complaining about the cost of tuition at Harvard.

      3. You’re wrong about research. Public dollars that enter research generates research that stays in the public domain. Want proof? Look at the gigantic volume of papers created by research scientists. Private sector does its own research by the way, it’s typically called R&D.

  7. Alex says:

    If $10,000 degree will lead a jobs, it should be developed.

    The proposal is coming from a businessman politician, I am very suspicious of the motive.

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