$10k degrees of education

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What do you think of the recent efforts in Texas (e.g. Texas A&M) to offer 10K degrees?, e.g., degrees that cost $10k in tuition including books. I think its a great idea to lower the cost of education, which has skyrocketed in the past decades. I'm not sure $10k is the right number though and maybe $15k-$20k seems more realistic? In Europe most degrees are far below $10k, though Universities are more subsidized than in the US. If you take into account pell grants the average actual cost per students may actually be lower. You could give every student a $10k loan for a degree, get rid of pell grants and use that money to support colleges at the federal level.

Any thoughts?   

They'd have to get rid of 2/3 of the administrators, pay the faculty less than most adjuncts get, and not have computers, labs, etc.
Think about it.  Say, you have a smallish university with 15,000 students.  For 4 years, they each pay $15,000.  That's $225,000,000 for four years.  On average there are about 13.8 students per faculty, so that's about 3950 faculty.  On average there are 64 students per administrator, and 22 students per clerical worker.  So that's 234 administrators, and 680 clerical workers.  So, the average faculty salary in a university with only undergraduate degrees, as about $65,000 a year, so that costs, over four years, $256,750,000.  the average administrator's salary is about $250,000 a year (top ones get $400,000+ but lower level ones can make as little as $45,000), which would be about $140,400,000 for four years, and clerical staff make about $35,000 per year which comes out to $92,480,000 over four years.  Total cost for salaries so far - $489,630,000.  Tuition paid - $225,000,000.  Total deficit so far - $264,630,000.  Then there are upkeep costs, custodians, campus police, heating, cooling, running labs, buying equipment replacing equipment, etc.
Texas now appropriates $5,670 a year per student, so, for 15,000 students for four years, that would be about $340,000,000.  That leaves about $76,000,000 for upkeep costs, custodians, campus police, heating, cooling, running labs, buying equipment replacing equipment, etc. 

That being said, there's no reason that you couldn't have an undergrad for $30,000-$40,000 total ($7.5K-$10K a year).  Of course, if states actually cared about education, they could subsidize degrees, and then they could cost a total of $15,000.  However, the chance of an increase in State funding of higher education in Texas is about the same as the chance of a progressive being elected as Governer.

Mousie, you forgot about the money that college athletics brings in!

Kidding aside, for a place like A&M (mentioned in the OP), the amount of money brought in on research grants and gifts is likely much larger than the tuition and state contributions. I couldn't find the A&M numbers, but the UT-Austin numbers are here and they are likely in the same ballpark.

I've never been quite clear on how much of research overhead goes to the university at large, rather than things that are needed to support the research indirectly (like keeping the electricity on the in the labs and paying the people in the sponsored programs office). 

It should be noted that it's not the main A&M campus offering this, nor is it a widespread "any degree for 10K" program. It's certain schools working in partnerships from some degrees. Have a look here. http://www.window.state.tx.us/comptrol/fnotes/fn1208/low-cost-degree.php As you can see, in one case students take some applied coursework in HS, then CC hours, then the last year at the university, which all together makes their degree cost 10K.

As others have posted, the whole "10k degree" fad does not show you final numbers. These initiatives tend to only cover (in state) tuition and maybe a few other items. At many public schools, tuition can be overshadowed by student fees, which are often *not* covered. Some of these programs only "work" when you transfer in as a junior, and assume that you already have taken 2 years of college somewhere else. There are caveats and exceptions out the whazoo, here.

It is a political stunt, mostly. A "10k degree" will cost you a great deal more than $10,000, when all is said and done.


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