Editor’s Note: Scroll down to the bottom to view OnlineCollege.org’s infographic about rising costs and the $10,000 degree.
The latest news on Wall Street is that the occupiers want forgiveness of student debt. And while President Obama didn’t meet their demands in his recent speech, he is still focusing on the same side of the equation: more money for higher education.
But down the road, the best way to deal with the high cost of college education is to reduce it! And Texas governor Rick Perry has thrown out the gauntlet by demanding that his regents come up with a plan for a $10,000 degree—not $10,000 per year but $10,000 for a full degree.
Is such a price possible? At the Pope Center, we’ve looked at affordability—and the innovation that will be required to get prices to that level—from many angles. My view is that extreme reductions are possible, but they may be far in the future. Meanwhile, however, you can save a lot of money if you take care.
Duke Cheston recently wrote about an inexpensive model for online education offered by Western Governors University. It’s not as cheap as $10,000 in total (Cheston estimates the minimum total cost at about $15,000), but it comes closer than the average public university—which now costs more than $20,000 per year. And for even less, students can take courses directly through StraighterLine, a firm that partners with WGU.
Jay Schalin has a completely different idea for saving money: Be an apprentice rather than a student. Schalin suggests that a return to apprenticeships can help students save by providing education while they literally “work their way through” the program.
Schalin has also examined the idea of ultra-small colleges. If you really want a full immersion into specific disciplines with a few professors, that too can be a cost-effective alternative to more traditional private schools.
But even if the $10,000 degree remains a dream at present, students entering college should reconsider taking big loans. They may not need as much as admissions counselors and lenders are pressing them to take, and they may not need them at all. In the past, I’ve offered advice to students on ways to save money while pursuing a traditional 4-year degree, including ways to save on loans. And Miguel Palacios has explored the idea of human capital contracts as an alternative to conventional loans.
UnCollege, which calls itself “a social movement changing the notion that going to college is the only path to success,” lists dozens of free or cheap learning options for those who want education without a degree.
Now, OnlineCollege.org, a web resource for career-minded college students, has created an infographic that lays out the costs of various colleges around the country. And it offers pros and cons on Rick Perry’s $10,000 college degree.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments!