Gov. Rick Scott on Monday challenged Florida’s community and state colleges to develop four-year degrees that would cost no more than $10,000.
The mean level of tuition and fees at a community or state college was $3,328 during the 2011-12 academic year, according the Department of Education’s 2012 annual report for the Florida College System. A four-year degree would cost about $13,300. In comparison, tuition and fees for a four-year degree from a Florida university averages about $25,000.
Scott made his proposal at the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College, the first school to accept the challenge. He said the degrees should be “in fields that will provide the graduates with the best opportunity for employment.”
College of Central Florida President Jim Henningsen said his college will be offering degrees in two of their most popular programs: business and management.
Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser said the police academy, fire academy and EMT academy will be offering degrees for $10,000.
In recent years, the colleges have offered a limited number of four-year degrees, but the bulk of their students remain in two-year programs. Most of Florida’s bachelor’s degrees still are produced by the state’s 12 public universities. Their graduates, though, include thousands of former community and state college students who transfer for their final two years.
The Florida Democratic Party criticized the proposal, noting Scott supported a $300 million spending cut for state universities this year and reductions in merit-based Bright Futures scholarships.
Sasser said affordability should not hinder the quality of an education.
“Tuition is already low in Florida, so there is a point where we could not lower tuition anymore without lowering the services we provide,” Sasser said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.