Higher Ed: Putting a Dollar on Degrees Off to a Slow Start

College costs are the theme today. We've written before about the desired $10,000 degrees in Florida. The options appear to be limited with few takers thus far at the 23 state colleges (formerly known as community colleges). The savings for students would typically come at the end of their academic experience. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

A highly touted program to offer $10,000 college degrees is off to a slow start in South Florida.

The region's three state colleges accepted a challenge from Gov. Rick Scott in January to offer low-cost degrees this school year in fields where there is high job demand. But the degree options are limited, the eligibility requirements are often tough and the marketing efforts have been light.

Broward College opened the program up a month ago, but so far no one has signed up for any of the 80 open slots.

"We've gotten some interest. We haven't gotten any applications," said Linda Howdyshell, Broward College's provost. "We just started getting the word out.''

Palm Beach State hasn't started accepting applications yet. The college is still determining eligibility requirements and only plans to offer the $10,000 degree in one field, information management.

Both colleges have decided against offering discounts in nursing, one of the most popular high-demand degree fields.

"We only offer three bachelor's degrees, and the nursing one is extremely expensive," said Grace Truman, spokeswoman for Palm Beach State. "We felt the information management degree was the most workable."

Randy Hanna, chancellor for the state college system, said it's too early to measure the success of the program. He and a spokeswoman for Scott said they were pleased all 23 community colleges that offer bachelor's degrees agreed to designate at least one $10,000 degree.

"You have to have time to structure programs that meet the needs of students and the local workforce," Hanna said.

The $10,000 price tag is about $3,000 cheaper than the normal cost of tuition and fees for a bachelor's degree at state colleges, formerly known as community colleges. It's less than half of what four-year public universities charge.

Each college determines how to derive the $10,000 cost. Some schools, including Indian River State College, require students to take dual enrollment classes in high school to qualify.

At Broward College, students can sign up now, but they won't see any savings until their final year. Students must pay full tuition for their first three years, which totals about $10,000, and then they get their fourth year free.

Train Travel Proponents Have Something to ‘Rail’ About

Mention the word "rail" and let the discussions begin:

  • I edited some transportation copy yesterday for our next BizVoice that, of course, includes rail — along with highways, air and ports — as critical to Indiana’s infrastructure for moving commodities and finished products.
  • Add "light" in front of the "rail" and you have many wondering how cities, like Indianapolis, could be even better if there were efficient public transportation measures in place. Opponents rightfully point out the heavy investment needed to make such efforts a reality.
  • Switch light to ‘high speed" and the controversy soars to an even higher level. The very brief history lesson is Europe thrives on moving people quickly and effectively; the U.S. lags way behind and appears destined to remain that way.

The latest on the high-speed front, courtesy of Stateline.org:

Congress on Tuesday (April 12) revealed the details of the federal budget deal reached by Democrats and Republicans late last week, and a clear loser is high-speed rail.

Funding for the program, a priority for President Obama, was slashed dramatically in the agreement announced by the administration and GOP House Speaker John Boehner. Not only does the deal eliminate all financing for high-speed rail this year, it takes back $400 million of the $2.5 billion that Congress authorized for it last year, The New York Times reports.

"The cuts will not bring the rail program to a halt, as there is still unspent rail money that can be used on new projects. But they leave the future of high-speed rail in the United States unclear, to say the least," The Times says. "Roughly $10 billion has been approved for high-speed rail so far, but that money has been spread to dozens of projects around the country. If Congress does not approve more money, it is possible that the net result of all that spending will be better regular train service in many areas, and a small down payment on one bullet train, in California."

High-speed rail has been a favorite target for congressional and state-level Republicans who see it as a waste of money. The opposition in the states has been led by three GOP governors who rejected funding for projects in their states: Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.