Colleges aim for low-cost education
State College of Florida and Edison College have joined 21 other Florida state colleges that offer baccalaureate degrees in accepting Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge to develop quality bachelor’s degree programs costing students no more than $10,000.
“Higher education is key to helping our students succeed in the 21st century economy and to grow jobs in Florida,” Scott said in a statement Monday. “Our goal should be that students do not have to go into debt in order to obtain a degree.” Scott had first issued the challenge to the state colleges in late November.
In a statement, new SCF president Carol Probstfeld said the college would work with its partners “to identify programs, existing and new, that offer the most immediate application to today’s workforce needs.”
SCF, which has three campuses — one in South Venice — offers eight bachelor’s programs in early childhood education, nursing, public safety administration, technology management, international business and trade, homeland security, energy technology management and health services administration.
SCF spokeswoman Kathy Walker said it was too early to name specific programs it would offer under Scott’s $10,000 challenge, but it was hoped that several would be in place by this year’s fall semester. Walker maintained SCF already offers competitive tuition rates. Currently, a student can complete an associate degree and a baccalaureate degree there for about $13,000.
“And that’s without even considering financial aid or dual-enrolled status,” she said. “So if a student were to come in and enroll as a dual-enrolled student, complete their associate degree and get some financial aid, chances are they’re not even out of pocket for $10,000 by the time they complete their baccalaureate.”
At Edison — where four years of standard tuition and fees toward a bachelor’s degree is $13,406 — president Jeff Albritten said the school would continue to look for ways to efficiently reduce the cost of providing services.
“During the past few months, we have been re-examining every aspect of the college to find additional efficiencies that ultimately benefit the students we serve,” Albritten said in a statement.
Edison, with four campuses — including one in Punta Gorda — offers four-year degrees in 10 areas of study: cardiopulmonary sciences, public safety administration, supervision and management, elementary education, middle grades language arts education, middle grades mathematics education, middle grades science education, nursing, secondary biology education and secondary mathematics education.
Erin Harrel, Edison’s interim vice president of academic affairs and dean of the school of education, said the first program Edison is considering to meet Gov. Scott’s challenge is secondary biology education.
“There is a critical shortage in secondary school biology teachers in Southwest Florida,” Harrel said. “That’s why we chose that degree, to help the local school districts fulfill a need that they always have. We’re excited to make this a unique opportunity to educate our students through a partnership.”
Harrel added Edison has not yet committed to a specific deadline for the implementation of the secondary biology education program.
“That will happen over the next couple of weeks,” she said.