Rick Scott channels his inner Rick Perry with call for $10,000 college degrees

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Rick Scott, appearing Monday morning on News Channel 8 prior to an appearance at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, said that rising tuition costs are preventing too many students from enrolling in universities and pursuing the “American dream.”

“Think about your family,” Scott said during an interview with WFLA-TV’s Gayle Guyardo. “What you want is to make sure you can get a job, you want to make sure your child can get a great education so they can live the American dream, and we’ve got to keep the cost of living low.

“So today, what I’m doing is challenging our state colleges: Can they come up with $10,000 degrees?”

Want to know where Scott came up with the idea for a $10,000 degree? From his man-crush, Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Perry asked Texas’s top colleges to come up with a program that costs no more than $10,000 for four years. Community colleges and online instruction are part of the low-cost programs.

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, reports the National Journal.

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.

Critics doubt that the initiative will help institutions trim their own costs in providing an education, however. Experts worry that reaching the $10,000 goal involves a scholarship process for students and not real savings for the schools themselves in overhead and instruction.

“I question an artificially set benchmark of $10,000,” said Daniel Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, adding that the discussion of actually containing the costs of education for the institution is “often missing” from such initiatives.

Indeed, officials acknowledge that most of these programs would only reduce the price tag for the student, not the cost to the institution of providing the degree. While select students might pay less overall, institutions must deliver the same faculty, facilities, time, and knowledge they provide to students paying full price for their degrees.

“I would not frame this $10,000 degree challenge as a cost-efficiency measure for higher education,” said Dom Chavez, director of the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board. “It’s a cost-efficiency measure for students and parents.”

There’s more about Perry’s plan, which appears to be Scott’s model, here at the National Journal.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.