Movement for $10,000 college degree

The value of a college education has been a hot topic, along with the issue of the college loan crisis. With that backdrop, we’re starting to see some momentum behind the movement for what’s being called the $10,000 college degree.

With the cost of going to college already more than $30,000 a year at many California campuses, is it possible to earn a bachelor’s degree for just $10,000 – total?

Assemblyman Dan Logue hopes so.

Borrowing an idea being promoted by Republican governors in Texas and Florida, the Republican Assemblyman from Linda has introduced a bill that would create a pilot program in California for what he’s billing as a $10,000 bachelor’s degree. The degree would be available to students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math disciplines.

Assembly Bill 51 calls for closer coordination between high schools, community colleges and California State University campuses and targets three regions for the pilot: Chico, Long Beach and Turlock. Participating students would earn some college credit in high school through Advanced Placement classes and greater access to community college courses. The bill calls for participating community college students to go to school full-time. CSU campuses, moreover, would be required to freeze tuition for those in the program.

Tuition at CSU right now is $5,472 a year. Books and campus fees cost another roughly $2,000 annually. A statement from Logue said his proposed $10,000 degree would include textbooks. It does not cover living expenses such as room and board.

You’ll note that it’s governors in Texas and Florida, both Republicans, who have started this movement, and it is being embraced by prominent conservatives. I would suspect that Democrats would happily go along, so this could be a significant bi-partisan movement.


Stagnant incomes struggle to keep up with rising tuition


Incomes are barely budging, while college costs keep rising. The median income has remained steady at around $33,000 since 1988, yet college tuition and fees have more than doubled since 1988. What’s worse is, college tuition and fees do not include room and board. According to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of financial aid sites and, as out-of-pocket costs of college education go up faster than incomes, it’s pricing low and medium income families out of a college education. Let’s look at the figures, provided by CNN Money:

Tuition: In 1988, the average tuition and fees for a four-year public university rang in at about $2,800, adjusted for inflation. By 2008, that number had climbed about 130% to roughly $6,500 a year — and that doesn’t include books or room and board.

Income: If incomes had kept up with surging college costs, the typical American would be earning $77,000 a year. But in reality, it’s nowhere near that.

In 2008 — the latest data available — the median income was $33,000. That means if you adjust for inflation, Americans in the middle actually earned $400 less than they did in 1988.

So, what can low to middle class families do to get past this obstacle? There are several popular and not-so-popular ways to cover college tuition costs without going broke. Let’s start with the popular ways. If the student does extremely well in high school, he or she may qualify for a number of scholarships that can help pay a portion of tuition. Some scholarships are also very specific, meaning, high school students with talents in certain areas such as technology, science, or even art may qualify for any number of scholarships.

If the student is into sports, many colleges will pay all or part of the student’s tuition for playing on the football team, basketball, track, or even the swimming team. There are also a number of scholarships and grants for minority students and women. To find thousands of scholarships, grants, and awards of all kinds, pick up a copy of the latest edition of The Scholarship Book: The Complete Guide to Private-Sector Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans for the Undergraduate.

Now for a few not-so-popular ways to handle tuition costs. Many parents would prefer it if their college bound kids didn’t have to work. But the reality is this, many college students do have to work to help pay for college and some even work full-time. This can help lighten the load on the parents and teach the student a thing or two about managing money and what it takes to earn a living in America. This can be an invaluable experience for students when the time comes to enter the working world.

Another not-so-popular way to save money on college is to live at home and spend the first 1-2 years at a local community college. First and second year courses such as history, English, math, science, and others may be taken at a community college, as most are transferable to a 4-year college. The best news is, most community colleges charge 50 to 75 percent less per credit hour than 4-year colleges. And finally, it’s possible to finish college in three years, but it will take some hard work and you will have to sacrifice summers, and possibly an active social life. In the end though, you will have one less year of tuition payments to worry about. For more ways to save on college tuition, visit


For-profit college scams

You need to read this article from The New York Times if you’re considering going to a trade school or for-profit college.

One fast-growing American industry has become a conspicuous beneficiary of the recession: for-profit colleges and trade schools.

At institutions that train students for careers in areas like health care, computers and food service, enrollments are soaring as people anxious about weak job prospects borrow aggressively to pay tuition exceeding $30,000 a year.

But the profits have come at substantial taxpayer expense while often delivering dubious benefits to students, according to academics and advocates for greater oversight of financial aid. Critics say many schools exaggerate the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty. And the schools are harvesting growing federal student aid dollars, including Pell grants awarded to low-income students.

The article goes on to quote a woman who left her job with one of these schools as she became concerned with deceptive recruiting tactics.

It’s stunning to me that these schools are charging $20,000 to $30,000 per year. Unfortunately, it’s another example of good intentions gone bad and the fact that Congress is bought and sold every day. We want to help kids and adults pay for school to improve themselves and find a career, but with all that money comes a new industry that preys on people looking for a new option in life.

Be careful so you don’t end up in a situation where you’re loaded up with debt that you can’t pay back.

One option we should consider is limiting financial aid from the government to public colleges, non-profit schools and accredited private schools.


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