Clearwater, Florida - Florida's state colleges remain more affordable than universities, averaging $13,264 for a 4-year bachelor's degree, according to the Florida Department of Education. But the governor is telling colleges they can do better.
On Monday, Governor Rick Scott challenged colleges to offer students a deal - a $10,000 bachelor's degree. So far, eight schools have jumped on board, including St. Petersburg College.
"College is important in today's society," says Josh Hanslik. The 26-year-old is back in school studying for a Business degree at St. Petersburg College. "We can't make a living off trade and skills anymore it's more tech based."
Getting college students employed is Governor Scott's goal but he opposes tuition hikes.
St. Petersburg College receives $100 million in federal financial aid each year. According to school officials half of that money is issued in student loans starting at $7500.
Josh says, "Everybody talks about student loans how rough it is to go to college if they could make it more affordable be great more people could come to school."
"We like the challenge," says St. Petersburg College President Dr. Bill Law who says the school will pilot a $10,000 bachelor's degree program next fall in Technology Management.
"There's still a great deal demand in technology support," says Law. SPC's president says it's a work in progress that requires change beginning with students behavior. "Can't start and later drop out start and stop that can be costly and end in disappointing results."
But colleges have been doing more with less seeing steady cuts in state funding. Law says to make the $10,000 degree challenge work colleges need legislators' help.
Law says, "I guarantee you we can't do it if the legislature is not part of the funding, we can't do it just on tuition."
Governor Scott disagrees, "I believe state colleges find a way to be more efficient in offering degrees individuals can get jobs. They can do it for $10,000 without help from the legislature."
It appears the battle lines have been drawn and legislators will have to work thru it when they return to Tallahassee this January.
College officials say there are many details to work out including establishing a tuition scale.
Law says high school students can start saving on college now by taking college courses in high school. The dual enrollment porgram allows students to take college courses for free, if they pass the exam they are able to earn college credit.