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Press ReleaseMonday, November 26, 2012
DOE Press Office
Governor Issues College Affordability Challenge
Tallahassee, Fla., November 26, 2012 - On the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College before an audience of college and community leaders and elected officials today, Governor Rick Scott issued a challenge to Florida's state colleges to create bachelor's degree programs that cost no more than $10,000. The goal is to address the problem of rising college costs and student debt.
"Florida must be focused on affordability in higher education. The efforts of our colleges to work to produce baccalaureate degrees at a lower cost should provide a major benefit to our students and help meet Florida's workforce needs," said Randy Hanna, chancellor of the Florida College System. "The institutions in the Florida College System are focused on providing a quality affordable education and our colleges are nationally recognized for their strong college transfer process and growing workforce program. Our colleges are ready to play an increasing role in producing high quality graduates who meet Florida's workforce needs."
Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said "The value of education has never been more important than in today's economy. Florida needs to ensure that students have access to college and are able to afford that next step. Aligning college accessibility with affordability enables our students to pursue higher education and join the workforce."
Gary Chartrand, Chair of Florida's State Board of Education, said, "The State Board of Education has the responsibility to ensure that Florida students have access to a high-quality education system that prepares them for college and careers in an increasingly competitive world. One of the challenges that face students in today's economy as they seek a college degree is the cost. Graduating with a large student loan debt deters some young people from going on to college, even though statistics show the value of a degree in lifetime earning potential. Governor Scott's $10,000 degree challenge is an innovative approach that will help keep a college degree within reach of a broader section of students."
Sally Bradshaw, state board member, stated, "The importance of access to affordable higher education cannot be overstated. It is critical for our students to be prepared for success in college and careers. Our public school system is focused on that. Our Florida College System is a wonderful next step for many of our students. State colleges are near their homes and often more affordable than other postsecondary options from that standpoint alone. The Governor's $10,000 degree challenge is going to make it even more affordable for students in our state."
State board member A.K. Desai, MD, said, "The Florida College System is a tremendous asset to our state. Our colleges lead the nation consistently in offering high quality education that prepares students for careers. Their willingness to step forward and accept the challenge to offer a high value degree for Florida students speaks to their commitment to our state and our economy."
Board member John Padget added, ""The Florida College System (FCS) will play a pivotal role as we build Florida's workforce for the future. High school graduates looking to acquire job-ready skills most cost-effectively need look no further than FCS. Already, 65 percent of our graduates pursue post-secondary education at one of our 28 accredited colleges."
"As a state board member and a business executive, I often speak with business owners about the needs they have in their organizations for well-prepared individuals. Often, I hear that there are job opportunities but there may not be people with the skills needed to fill the jobs. Our Florida colleges prepare people with the right skills for the jobs and they do that well. College affordability is a key strategy in being able to meet our workforce demands," said board member Barbara Feingold. "I fully support the Governor's education initiative. Having access to the high-quality colleges in the Florida College System is a conduit for high school students into the workforce. The $10 thousand degree programs lead to job creation and reducing unemployment."
"Our Florida state colleges lead the way in preparing students to join the labor force according to a national report card from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce," added board member Kathleen Shanahan. "They provide an important pathway to careers for almost two-thirds of the high school graduates in our state. We have some of the largest enrollments in state colleges in the country and some of the most highly honored colleges as well. The challenge to offer a high-value degree for a reasonable cost will bring these institutions within reach of even more students."
In response to the critical statewide need for baccalaureate degree production, the Florida legislature approved a process in 2001 that allowed community colleges to seek approval to offer bachelor's degrees. Today 22 of Florida's 28 state colleges are authorized to offer almost 150 baccalaureate programs.